'This Is Us' Star Niles Fitch, AKA Young Randall Reflects on Dad's Death
In the age of constant information at the public’s fingertips, it’s easy to get lost in the world of celebrity voyeurism. As a whole, society is captivated by similarities between themselves and the rich and famous. Magazine sections sporting titles like “Stars! They’re just like us!” litter the glossy centerfold of popular gossip grocery-checkout-line-material with candid pictures of celebrities buying lattes, sitting in traffic, and strolling in parks.
However, rarely does the public get to connect to a celebrity on a somber and personal note quite like they can with Niles Fitch, an actor in the hit TV show “This is Us.” After losing his father, Fitch opened up to share his story and to help preserve the memory of his father.
Earlier this year, Niles Fitch traveled back to his hometown of Atlanta in a way that closely mirrors the plot of the show he stars in. Previously, it had been two years since he had been in Atlanta. The death of his father was the catalyst that brought him home, a somber experience that can be felt by others who have suffered a profound loss.
While Atlanta has been missing Fitch for two years now, the sense of warmth and home is present everywhere Fitch looks. “The camaraderie of folks, and how kind you are in the South, that’s what you can’t find in LA,” Fitch explained to 11Alive’s reporter Matt Pearl.
Fitch currently resides in LA in order to continue his work on the NBC hit “This is Us” as a Young Randall Pearson. Upon returning home to Atlanta, he has found himself not missing the palm trees and the cupcake stores punctuating the street corners, but heading straight for “The Varsity,” a local drive-thru fast food restaurant that just celebrated its 90th birthday. While the food is what keeps most of its Atlanta clientele coming back for more, Fitch was there for a much more somber reason: to celebrate his father. It was his father’s favorite place.
While grieving the loss of a parent can be one of the most devastating things a person can go through, Fitch tries to spend much of his energy focusing on the happier times. While flipping through some of his photographs from years before, Niles picked one out of his father helping him to tie his tie. Niles seemed lost in thought, and when prompted to tell 11Alive what was going on in his mind, Fitch smiled. It reminded Niles of how his father took care of him. “Oh [he was] making sure I was always 100. He never let me leave the house unless I was 100.”
This support and protection extended beyond what Niles was wearing. When Fitch wanted to try his hand at acting, his parents were beyond supportive. In fact, they picked up their whole lives, moving to New York while Niles grabbed acting roles on TV and Broadway.
“He went from living really good in Atlanta to living less good in New York,” Niles remembered, adding “and that was all for me.”
At 12, when most kids are trying to figure out how to rebel against their parents, Niles had to grow up fast when his father, Frederick, got sick. He was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease lupus enteritis when Niles was only 12. Lupus is basically what happens when the body’s defense system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues, whereas they are supposed to attack viruses and bacteria. This can cause harm to joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and the brain. While it is not contagious, it impacts a person diagnosed with lupus’ day-to-day lives.
Specifically, lupus enteritis is a form of systemic lupus erythematosus that causes inflammation with the small bowel. It's considered a rare complication and can cause mild to severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Read on to learn more about Niles Fitch's relationship with his father, and how he copes with the loss of his father today.
Photo source: NBC