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Little People, Big World exclusive interview: Zach and Tori talk the awkward barbecue, Amy’s oops and how a spinoff could totally work

Zach Roloff, Tori Roloff
Zach and Tori are up for it all including a spinoff and welcoming Amy’s fiance into the mix. Pic credit: TLC

Little People, Big World grows by the day, as Zach and Tori Roloff are now a family of four. Their second child, daughter Lilah, arrived in November 2019.

While Matt Roloff dotes on all his grandkids in the return of the series, we found out during an interview yesterday with Zach Roloff and his wife Tori Roloff that he’s currently quarantining in Arizona.

Nonetheless, we learn their firstborn son Jackson is adept at social media and COVID-19 workarounds to real-time visit with his doting grandad.

The two stars took time out of being busy parents to speak with us about that awkward barbecue coming up on the episode.

Matt and Amy have their new partners with them, and we learn how Zach felt about the on-camera moment between him and his mom Amy that he was never expecting.

What’s on their horizon?

The couple raises their kids like anyone else despite the fact both children are diagnosed with dwarfism.

It’s certainly never stopped Zach and Tori who have big plans for the farm and their futures, even the possibility of a spinoff series focusing on their family life.

The drama comes this Tuesday on the heels of Zach’s mom Amy Roloff getting her surprise proposal on the April 21 episode from her boyfriend, Chris Marek.

Zach talked about his mom’s engagement with Monsters & Critics, and he was super positive. He also shared some of the funny things he has to deal with as a parent during the production of the show, which might surprise you too.

Interview with Zach and Tori Roloff

Monsters & Critics: Gas grills, they are tricky! You have an upcoming scene Tuesday where its do or die with one…

Zach Roloff: [laughs] Yes, yes! It was dicey there for a little bit.

M&C: Will you be comfortable for Lilah and for Jackson to have a similar experience that you have, growing up in front of the camera?

Zach Roloff: Yes. With Jackson and Lilah, we don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know any of that at the moment, and we’re just kind of enjoying the [parenting] process right now.

We’re drawing in strength in our story. And we think our fans are great. We get a lot of great feedback from them. I feel we give them a lot of inspiration and things like that.

That is kind of where we are with all of that. And maybe down the road as the show continues… Yes. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

M&C: A lot of the great franchises in the Discovery family of networks get legacy spinoffs like Parker’s Trails and Bloodline. Do you think that you and Tori might be in a position to have your own show once your mom and dad divest themselves from wanting to be on TV?

Zach Roloff:  Yes, Tori and I are open to everything. We would definitely sit down and think long and hard about it too because we enjoy doing the show we have.

And doing a spin-off? Yes. That could definitely be fun and something enjoyable.

But, there’s a lot of other things that go into that. Responsibilities and things that we would have to consider. But yes, anything is possible.

M&C: What are your conversations like with your siblings that have kind of backed away from the show?

Zach Roloff: Yes, we have really good relationships with Jeremy, Molly, and Jacob. We’re all pretty close. Jeremy lives in the same neighborhood as us.

Everyone has to make their own decision. I know why. Like, I respect why they had to step away or what their reasoning was to do it. Every one of them had a different reason.

But we all get along great. Jeremy’s super successful right now with his book. His wife Andrey came out with a book. Molly lives the quieter life with her husband. She rides the bus to work.

They all just took different paths.

We’re all super close so we Facetime. Everyone loves the babies and the families and all the cousins’ love and everything.

M&C: With COVID-29, what are the Roloff family get-togethers like? How are you connecting?

Zach Roloff:  Yes, we’ve Facetimed quite a bit with grandpa. Grandpa Matt has been down in Arizona. He got down there in January and he has been quarantined down there. But we have all been FaceTiming him a lot.

And grandma as well, and then Tori’s parents too. Just a lot of Facetime and Jackson loves it. He knows how to work the Facetime now. [Laughs] He has had a lot of Facetiming and just connecting with people.

And then we find ourselves connecting with other people. We’ll Facetime our friends. It’s been fun.

M&C: The episode this week, you have a slightly tense moment with Amy when she lays the news about her fiance Chris on you. You reminded her about the privacy pact that you had made. Talk about that scene.

Amy Roloff, Chris
Chris proposed last week on Little People Big World, but how Amy shares this news is this week’s drama. Pic credit: TLC

Zach Roloff: Yeah. It’s tough. My mom, I think, was caught up [in the moment]. Yes, she was very excited, which I was excited for her as well.

But there are limits, and I think the longevity of our show…we definitely share a lot and I don’t hide much.

And I don’t have anything to hide, really. There was one thing that I was like, ‘Hey mom, dad, if this is something that you guys do during the season, I don’t want this to be an on-camera reaction.’

Unfortunately, she kind of forgot about that.

Yet in the episode, you’ll see we makeup and we resolve our differences. I’m excited that she has someone that she can live the rest of her life with and she has that companion.

M&C: How do you feel about your dad’s girlfriend?

Zach Roloff: Caryn has been with the family for a while. She was our farm manager. Caryn’s great. Her daughter is one of our list of babysitters that we have for our kids.

We all get along great with her, and she’s around, and we all get along. She is great!

M&C: Do you think Matt’s going to pop the question?

Zach Roloff: Hmm. I don’t know. I mean, my dad’s all about being a grandpa right now, so that’s mostly our conversation.

But, I know he’s enjoying that season of life right now for him. Just being able to be a grandpa, taking care of all of his grandkids, spoiling them. So I’m not sure what his future holds there.

I think he’s enjoying the moment that he’s in right now and able to kind of do what he wants to do and go where he wants to go without worrying about anything else.

Caryn’s been very nice to all of us. We get along with her really well.

M&C: Is the Roloff food line an aspect of the farm business that you might expand – what is your ambition for the farm?

Zach Roloff:  Yes. The food business. The salsa. I think it’s in a thing that my mom and dad tried. It continues on. My mom did have a lot of things going on, speaking engagements, the farm pumpkin business.

My dad has a stool business, my mom has her own thing going. I don’t know if we would expand that, but I think we’re definitely maintaining it.

I don’t know if we would go to other products per se, but at least right now, I think we would maintain the salsa.

As for the future for the farm…we obviously want to keep it in the family. The farm is a safe haven and it is just a spot that we can all gather for years on end.

It could be our family reunion, it could be a graduation, birthday parties. We definitely want to keep the farm in the family, keep it fresh, keep it clean, try to keep the standard that my dad’s kind of set for it.

While my dad spends a lot of time in Arizona, Jeremy and me, we step up to kind of help. We will manage it, mow the lawn, spray the weeds, keep it looking good.

M&C: The Portland area, where you all are, gets that perfect growing weather.

Zach Roloff:  I brag about this all the time. Portland gets that perfect season weather. You got three months of rain, three months of spring, three months of winter [and] three months of summer.

M&C: Tori, do you want to be in the public eye and what are your aspirations for your business? 

Tori Roloff:  Marrying Zach, you kind of are married into the business and everything…and I’ve always been really supportive of him and his family and what they’re doing and it’s been fun.

They’re just kind of like, [Tori,] ‘get involved’ and we have some of the best fans, in my opinion. It’s good fun.

Getting to talk with them and meet new people and try new things that would have never happened otherwise. It’s been a fun experience for sure.

M&C: And you’re okay with Jackson and Lilah growing up in front of the cameras? Noo issues as far as you’re concerned?

Tori Roloff: As long as they both enjoy it, then I’m here for it. Yes.

M&C: How’s Jackson taking to baby Lilah?

Zach Roloff:  Jackson loves being a big brother. He is very orderly. Dad has his things, mom has her things, Lilah has her things, and then there’s Jackson’s things… and none of those things mix.

He’s very big on that. He knows Lilah’s blanket, he knows this is his blanket. He loves keeping the order of the house and making sure Lilah is okay and taking care of her.

Tori Roloff:  He always makes sure she’s comfortable and make sure she’s got her blanket. He worries, does she have her binky there? Does she need to be fed?

M&C: In the next episode, you said something interesting. There was a moment where you guys were in discussion, and you said you don’t give children choices about dinner when you were planning the big barbecue. Talk about that.

Zach Roloff:  Yes, totally. Some of that was tongue-in-cheek, but I’m not going to do a backyard party and cater to 15 three-year-olds and have 60 different options for them.

I think Tori and me, and our parenting style, for example, Jackson, he’s three years old and we [will] give him choices sometimes. Like, ‘Hey, tonight, do you want Mac and cheese or hot dogs?’

But then there’s other times you say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing.’ He is under our direction, and we’re going to raise him to be the best he can be. And part of that is the fact that we are the parents and he is the child, and that’s family order that we have.

M&C: What’s one of the most interesting things about filming a reality show that’s so personal that maybe fans don’t realize, or something that maybe fans wouldn’t, would least expect?

Tori Roloff: For me, it’s the behind the scenes, like we’re all really close with the crew. We are really appreciative of the crew and what they put into our show.

They get involved. I think that the question earlier about Jackson and Lilah being included in filming. It has a large part to do with our crews just because they are part of our family.

Zach Roloff:  And there’s one story. It’s when Jackson was upset in his big boy bed episode when we put him to sleep. And part of that was…well, you have nine other people in the room. You have your cameraman, you have your audio guys.

And to him, those are his friends or whatever. And so like, and he didn’t say good night to everybody. He didn’t say bye. There wasn’t closure.

Like, when our friends are over, we say goodnight. Everyone says goodnight to him, and then he goes to bed.

So it adds a wrinkle that’s reality… but also not a reality that you talk about on the show. Acknowledging that there are other people in the room. There’s someone behind that camera, which is interesting.

It’s fun also because then sometimes you get feedback. Like…if I say something funny and yes, nobody laughed…then I kind of get a little insecure because the cameraman didn’t giggle. But that’s not his job.

Yet, at the same time it’s so human, you know?

So yes, just having other humans in the room, it does add an interesting life dynamic. And Tori and I, if we have a personal argument…there is someone else there behind that camera and that’s listening.

M&C: When the producers interview you after an important scene, has a surprising thing ever happened or when you’ve had a chance to kind of think through what just happened in the scene previous?

Zach Roloff:  No. Not in the last five, six years. It is part of what we do. I’m a pretty methodical and intentional person. I think I respond to things instead of react.

There’s times if I do something, if I argue with a Tori, I know what’s coming. I know what he’s [producer] about to ask me.

So. there’s not a lot of surprises. we are doing a reality show, so I just play ball.

Like, if we act just statues, that doesn’t make a very good show either.

We have to reveal our feelings, that’s part of what we do, and that’s how we create the relationship with our fans. We become relatable that way, so it’s all part of a dance.

Little People, Big World airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on TLC.

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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