Carlos is a young guy with a prominent nose ring sitting in his car in Las Vegas, smiling as he reflects on what he enjoyed most about the YouTube clip he just watched.
“I really like the fashion aspect, and I would like to see more of that,” he says.
For Kiana, a young girl based in Manila, it was the message of empowerment. “(It) was an example of, if you really work hard at something, you will be able to get it,” she says.
The feedback from Hinesh in London was simple: he liked the “random question” in the clip. Miami-based Ivan, meanwhile, says he could totally relate to the part about looking at your phone the minute you wake up.
This global focus group is not hidden behind the scenes but featured prominently in “The Shuffle,” just one of the segments on Your Time With Thomas, a docu-series that made its debut on YouTube this past summer. “Thomas” is Thomas Orlina, an LA native currently living in Hollywood whose career started at TMZ but is now aimed at becoming a Filipino-American successor to the likes of Ryan Seacrest.
Unlike Seacrest, however, whose early audience interactions were limited to listener call-ins on his radio show, Orlina wants to build a digital feedback loop directly into the content he’s producing.
Your Time With Thomas includes plenty of Orlina’s life — including more serious subjects like his coming-out story — but he transcends the navel-gazing narcissism of many Vloggers with “The Shuffle,” where he directly asks for video submissions via Snapchat and Instagram.
“I feel like right now I haven’t seen so many YouTube shows where they’re engaging with social media,” he says. “In this day and age [with] a lot of companies going the digital route, a lot of people are looking for fun, short-form content. I always knew in the back of my head that I wanted to create a show, but I also wanted to make watchers feel that this show is something they can directly connect with.”
Just as viewers can help shape and influence the direction of the show, Orlina says he gets most of the inspiration for his personal style choices via Instagram and other social channels.
“I go for things that are very young, very fresh, very timeless. The goal is to be wearing things now and when you look back later and it still feels very current,” he says.
Orlina’s knack for what’s current extends to other areas of his work. When he’s not creating Your Time With Thomas, he’s working at Warner Bros. and as a host and red carpet correspondent for AfterBuzz TV. That puts him in proximity to a lot of stars, but it doesn’t generate a lot of envy.
“I’m inspired by people who are in the industry,” he says. “As far as fame goes, I’m not doing the show for that purpose. I think that comes along with success, but when you really see some of the top people in the industry, they were just focusing on the craft of what they were trying to accomplish.”
Orlina says his drive comes in part from his family, where his parents and others worked multiple jobs. “Right now I’m technically two to three — or is it four jobs? I don’t even know,” he says, though he doesn’t spend a lot of time complaining about balance. “Working in Hollywood, I’ve learned there’s definitely other people out there with even crazier schedules.”
His other key learning? Skip the Hollywood feuds. Instead, Orlina says he’s proud of all the friends he’s made in previous roles who are rooting him on as he pitches Your Time With Thomas to the networks.
“I definitely hope the show is going to be the platform that really takes off that takes me to the next step,” he says. If it does, audiences may soon find themselves spending even more time with Thomas.
Follow along our #KingsofSWAGGER series, featuring both American up-and-coming, and established men who not only have Swagger in their style, but also live the Swagger lifestyle. Stay tuned!