In his three-decade career, Billy Crawford has done it all — acting, singing, dancing and hosting. While his other talents have taken a back seat for some time now, there is no denying that Crawford is one of the most recognizable and sought-after hosts today. In fact, when his new game show "The Wall" premieres its second season on GMA this Sunday — on top of his daily hosting stint on TV5's "Tropang LOL" — his fans will see the former child star turned international R&B artist on TV every single day of the week. Talk about the pinnacle of TV exposure.
Besides appearing on free TV's major networks, The Wall Philippines has allowed Crawford to "come home" to GMA, his original mother studio.
It can be recalled that Crawford — then known as child-wonder Billy Joe — debuted on GMA on the teen variety show of his discoverer and longtime manager, the late TV legend German Moreno's "That's Entertainment."
So even if he has achieved much success as a total entertainer, not just in the Philippines but in Hollywood and parts of Europe as well, GMA will always have a special place in Billy Crawford's big heart.
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"I will never get tired of saying that I feel welcomed and I feel at home," Crawford expressed when asked at a media conference how he feels working with the studio again.
He likened his return to the network to revisiting a renovated home, sharing how nostalgic he felt on his first day.
"Pagpasok ko nung unang araw pa lang in GMA, when we did the promo shoots in the GMA building, I saw where we would rehearse for 'That's Entertainment,' since I was four years old. Nakasarado na siya ngayon but still..." the celebrity trailed off.
A hard worker through and through, Crawford did not shy in calling himself the "Pambansang Katrabaho," given his current status as a "freelance artist."
With no exclusive contract with either network, Crawford — who has been under Viva Artists Agency since 2018 — can't be more grateful to have shows on both TV5 and GMA. For the longest time, he had numerous programs on ABS-CBN before the network's franchise ended, making him one of the few artists who have defied bans on working with competing entities.
"This collaboration between Viva and GMA has given me, as a host, an opportunity to become a freelancer again and so be able to work with anyone in the industry," the 40-year-old acknowledged.
"It's unexplainable. It feels unfair [to have this much work], but it feels more like a blessing so we should accept them and thank God for being so good," he added.
"The Wall Philippines" is the local adaptation of the hit US game show of the same title. It premiered on TV5 in 2021 but will move to GMA for its second season.
In moving to GMA for season 2, is Crawford anxious about starting over?
"In any show, ang pinakamahirap is adjusting. Yung unang araw namin sa The Wall, natapos kami almost 5 a.m., everyone worked so hard to make this work. But at the end of the day, we felt at home, we felt welcomed and sobrang saya namin."
Helping Crawford adjust is his years-long experience in hosting, which was honed when he transferred to ABS-CBN in 2008. Initially, he recalled getting tips and advice from Boy Abunda, Vic Sotto and even his contemporary, Luis Manzano.
"I try to put everything in every show I do, I try to find kung ano yung magma-match, kung kailangan ba mataas yung energy, kailangan ba galawgaw, kengkoy ba ako dito or kailangan ba seryoso ako dito. [Hosting] it's familiar, pero may nerbyos pa rin kada tapak ko sa entablo kahit saan."
In ending, Crawford — relating to his daily TV shows — said he wishes to see Filipino families sharing a common activity like before when the internet and mobile phones hadn't taken over the world. If that can be watching The Wall or any one of his other shows, Crawford will undoubtedly be honored.
All the same, he insisted, "Kahit ano naman ang programa na pinapanood nila OK yon, basta sana sama-sama silang mag enjoy sa mga content na produced today.
"The Wall Philippines" Season 2 premieres on GMA tomorrow, Aug. 28, at 3:35 p.m.