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Pudding Man of the Year Milo Ventimiglia Talks Family, Gender Equality

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Hasty Pudding Institute Chairman Andrew L. Farkas ’82 had to stop his introduction for the Pudding’s 2019 Man of the Year celebration within minutes of beginning his talk. After introducing Milo Ventimiglia, the Pudding event’s honoree this year, Farkas mentioned the unprecedented co-ed casting of the Pudding’s 2019 musical — and the crowd burst into a long round of cheers.

“I’m done,” Farkas said after the applause died down, throwing up his hands and smiling.

Friday marked both the debut of the Pudding’s historic 2019 show — “France! France! Revolution” — and the 53rd round of their Man of the Year festivities. Ventimiglia is known for his current role as Jack Pearson in the NBC drama “This is Us.” He has previously acted on “Gilmore Girls,” “Heroes,” and “American Dreams.”

In both the roast’s opening remarks and in the press release after the celebration, Ventimiglia and the Pudding members mentioned the Pudding’s newly-complete gender inclusivity. Three of the six women cast in “France! France! Revolution” took part in the Man of the Year celebration’s annual celebrity roast, lead by Pudding producers Elizabeth C. Mann ’20 and Mariana C. Sanchez ’20.

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In the roast itself, Mann and Sanchez made fun of Ventimiglia’s name, his acting career, and his “Sexiest Vegetarian Alive” title (bestowed on him by PETA). Ventimiglia sang Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry” — a nod to his role in the music video — and rapped the theme song from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” When Ventimiglia gave a lap dance to Pudding cast member Eric J. Cheng ’20, Cheng made a joke about Ventimiglia’s mother watching from the audience.

“It was so hilarious — and definitely unexpected!” Cheng wrote in a later email. “I liked that he played along; it was fun, funny, and very sexy!”

In the press release afterwards, Ventimiglia spoke to both the historical nature of the Pudding’s show and to his own role as Man of the Year honoree.

“It’s absolutely the right thing to do,” Ventimiglia said of including women in the Pudding cast. “It’s the greatest thing to do, because the heart of an artist isn’t only in one type of person, one way of being. It’s really in all of us.”

Ventimiglia also talked about his mother — who, according to the actor, was fine with watching her son’s lap dance.

“My mom was more than excited,” Ventimiglia said. “I barely got the word ‘Hasty’ out and she knew ‘pudding.’”

After discussing his production experience and his upcoming projects, Ventimiglia ended with his thoughts on his current role as the father in “This is Us.”

“I think people want to feel good, even in pain and sadness. I think people want to know that there’s a community of family, the one that you’re born with or the one that you find or create yourself,” Ventimiglia said.

“It’s a gratifying thing when I as an artist know that the work that I’m a part of is creating positivity.”

— Staff writer Iris M. Lewis can be reached at iris.lewis@thecrimson.com.

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