I’ve had the pleasure of being on staff at Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City for over 25 years. One of my favorite memories comes from when I first joined the team in 1992 as a case manager. During my first year, I had the opportunity to interview Raffeal Sears as a new Little in our program.
When I first met him, Raffeal was only 10 years-old, but he was already incredibly outgoing. He had recently been to a Janet Jackson concert and was inspired by her to become an artist and performer. At the time, he loved to draw, and would sketch Janet Jackson onstage at the concert over and over again.
Sometime after my interview with Raffeal, BBBSKC had an opportunity to create a commercial for a promotion with Pizza Hut. I remembered my interview with Raffeal and his passion for performance, so even though he was still on the waitlist, we decided to give him a call and offer him the opportunity to be in the commercial — he said yes.
Raffeal was matched with a Big Brother for many years, and eventually ended up moving to New York to pursue a career in acting. I had the opportunity to meet up with him about 7 years ago when he reached out to say hi when I happened to be traveling through New York. We met over a cup of coffee, and he told me all about what he’s been up to since our first meeting.
As we talked, we both reminisced about the Pizza Hut commercial and Raffeal’s first brush with acting. He told me that the opportunity to be in that commercial actually ended up being his big moment — it’s what inspired him to pursue acting as a full-time career.
Fast forward to the present day: Raffeal is still in touch with his Big Brother, Jef Gross, who also lives on the East Coast. They still even manage to make time to get together and strengthen their years-long friendship. Earlier this week, Jef reached out to me to brag on the successes of his Little.
“I have great news to share!” said Jef. “My little brother, Raffeal Sears, whom you matched me with back in May 1996, will make his television acting debut on NBC's Chicago Fire! He's an amazing talent who's destined to become a well-known actor.
On behalf of our match, thank you for playing a role in this lifelong brotherhood.”
An acting career 25 years in the making, and a decades-long friendship that is still as strong as ever. These are the stories that drive our agency forward and remind us why we do what we do. We’re inspired by the hundreds of Kansas City Littles like Raffeal who dream and achieve personal success, and we work to defend and empower the potential of the next generation each and every day.
Want to see Raffeal’s television acting debut? Watch Chicago Fire tonight, November 14th, on NBC at 9/8c.
We also found the footage from his original Pizza Hut commercial, too — check it out below!