The Untold Truth Of Our Little Family

In February 2015, Our Little Family introduced the world to Maryland's Hamill family, and the Hamills made a big impression on viewers. As the show's website points out, all five Hamills — parents Michelle and Dan, son Jack, and twin daughters Cece and Cate — have achondroplasia, described in TLC's press release for the show as "an extremely rare form of dwarfism that is believed to only affect around one in 25,000 people."

Viewers immediately realized that what made the Hamills different was also what made them so relatable. "Despite life's obstacles, the family faces every challenge thrown their way together and always with a positive attitude," declared TLC. Speaking with Capital Gazette, Michelle shared the simple message she hoped viewers would take away from the series: "We're just like everyone else — just smaller."

Find out how much there is to learn about this inspiring family by delving into the untold truth of Our Little Family.

This is how Our Little Family stars Dan and Michelle got together

Long before they wound up on TV screens, Our Little Family's Dan and Michelle Hamill met by chance when they both happened to attend a 2004 event in New Jersey hosted by Little People of America, which describes itself as a "nonprofit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature and their families."

"Little People of America has an annual national event but then there are smaller regional events in the spring and fall, and we met at a regional in New Jersey," Dan explained in a 2015 interview with Channel Guide. "That was the first Little People event I ever went to."

While the two became fast friends, Dan admitted that romance did not spark immediately. "She's from Maryland and I'm from Canada, so we became friends at first," he continued. "We had mutual friends and we hung around a lot and dated other people for maybe two years and then at some point we started dating and the rest is history. Engagement, marriage, kids..." According to Capital Gazette, the couple wed in 2007, three years after their first meeting.

Our Little Family was originally meant to focus on Dan Hamill's woodworking

Had things gone according to plan, Dan Hamill wouldn't have been featured in a show alongside his wife and kids, but would have instead been the solo star of an entertainment series focusing on his furniture, cabinetry, and woodwork. As Capital Gazette reported, Our Little Family's producers initially discovered Hamill on a Facebook site devoted to furniture design. "The show was originally about Dan's work in people's houses, but its focus gradually changed to the family. Some of Dan's handiwork is still in the show," Michelle Hamill explained.

"The people at Discovery Communications posted something on Facebook that they were looking for a little person contractor and a friend of mine posted my name," Dan elaborated in an interview with Channel Guide. "They asked for my permission to call me and they did. We talked on Skype and they sent people out to speak to us. I guess they liked what they saw and wanted to share it with America!"

Our Little Family all began with a demo reel

As Dan Hamill told Capital Gazette, the ball started rolling for Our Little Family when he received "an email that someone from Discovery Studios wanted to Skype with [him]," with the studio looking for someone to star in a reality series about a "short-statured architectural woodworker." 

After that initial Skype conversation, Hamill assumed that would be the end of that. Then came another call, followed by more calls, and plans were made for a camera crew to visit the Hamill home. The crew spent eight hours filming the family as they basically lived their lives as they normally would, with that footage then edited into a four-minute demo reel pitched to TLC executives.

Months later, the Hamills heard back from TLC. The cable channel was interested and wanted to feature the family in a new reality series. "We were drawn to the Hamill family because they always bring heart and humor to everyday life and the challenges that all families face," said TLC executive producer Cindy Kain. "After getting to know them even more, we knew they would be a great addition to our TLC family." And just like that, the Hamills joined the network known for shows likes The Little Couple, 90 Day Fiancé, and My 600-lb Life.

Why the stars of Our Little Family decided to do reality TV

Once the plan for the TLC show shifted away from just Dan Hamill to include the whole family, he and wife Michelle Hamill gave the whole notion some serious thought, and they understandably had some reservations. "We certainly didn't jump right on it. We had a lot of questions and discussed it a lot between ourselves. But we weren't totally against it the whole time either. We were reassured pretty quickly that it would be interesting," Dan told OK! magazine. "Yeah, we certainly gave it a lot of thought before we said yes," Michelle confirmed.

As Dan explained, the deciding factor that led them to agree to Our Little Family was having the opportunity to share all aspects of their lives, not just their statures. "We want to tell the story that we're little, but we don't want that to be the only story that we tell," he told Channel Guide. "We want people to see how our lives are different from theirs because we're little and things we run into, but we also want people to see that our lives are really close to theirs — probably closer that they think."

What it was like to be filmed for Our Little Family

While shooting the sizzle reel for their show was relatively painless, filming Our Little Family was a different story. "They were here non-stop for nine weeks. All day for six or seven days at a time," Dan Hamill told Capital Gazette.

The crew also made some extensive adjustments to the Hamills' home, which included taping over recessed lighting fixtures in the ceiling with paper in order to filter the light, while framed prints of artwork had to be taken off the walls and replaced due to difficulty obtaining photo rights from the artists. "It was interesting, a learning experience that outweighed any negatives," Dan added.

Meanwhile, the Hamill children quickly adapted to the presence of a camera crew in their home. "They adjusted really well. At first it was so funny, the girls acted like they've been there their whole life. There was no question like, why are these people here, you know? It was really funny," admitted Michelle Hamill to OK! magazine. "And we had talked to Jack about the process before the cameras actually came."

Why Our Little Family star Michelle Hamill was initially hesitant about reality TV

For the Hamills, participating in their TLC show did not come without some trepidation about the reality of having cameras pointed at them all day long.

When Dan and Michelle Hamill did commit to opening up their lives for Our Little Family, they decided it would only work if they went all in, candidly sharing their lives with truth and honesty in order to provide viewers with an accurate depiction of their day-to-day struggles and triumphs. 

There was one area, however, in which both Dan and Michelle agreed to be a little more circumspect: the confessional interviews that have become a reality TV staple. "I guess with interviews sometimes ... we would sort of be careful what we talked about," Dan told OK! magazine. "We want to make sure what we say about little people is accurate and truthful and honest and of course the same applies for our children. We want to make sure how our children are depicted is accurate, but the rest was fair game."

This was the biggest concern the Hamills had about Our Little Family

As parents, Our Little Family stars Dan and Michelle Hamill had some apprehensions about putting their children in the spotlight, particularly when it came to their son Jack.

"The girls are too young to realize what is going on, so my main concern was for my son Jack because his life is going to be out there and he's in kindergarten and what people might say and comment and things like that. He was my No. 1 concern," Michelle told Channel Guide in 2015, noting that the sensitivity on display in TLC shows such as The Little Couple and Little People, Big Worldone of the best TLC shows, alongside the likes of I Am Jazz and OutDaughtered — helped allay her concerns. 

"Because of those two shows and how wonderfully they have been done, I was almost positive that this show would go in the same direction," she added, noting, "And then, as I thought more about it, Jack is in kindergarten and for all those moms out there who have little-people kids, I want them to see how a six-year-old can develop and become just like everyone else."

How the stars of Our Little Family help their kids navigate an average-sized world

Arguably, the most compelling aspect of Our Little Family isn't the fact that Dan and Michelle Hamill are little people, but that they're also raising three little people. From a parental perspective, the Hamills have a unique viewpoint to impart to their children based on their own experiences as little people navigating a world that hasn't been designed for them. 

"It's certainly different than if you're an average-size parent with a little-person child — you're probably much more concerned than we are in some respects," Dan told Channel Guide. "We've been there and that will help at any crossroads we come to, but we also look back on our childhood and we went through it relatively unscathed. Of course, it's still scary and you want everything to go well for your child and even better than what you had. But we didn't have any big nightmare memories, so we don't have as much fear going forward with our children as an average-sized person who is new to all this might."

How hailing an NYC cab exposed the Our Little Family stars to prejudice

In the Season 2 finale of Our Little Family, the Hamills visited the Big Apple, and mom Michelle Hamill had a fun-packed day in store that was to begin at Times Square. But things did not get off to a stellar start when she attempted to hail a cab, The Wrap reported.

As Michelle waved and gestured, taxis just sped past. "How come they turn their light on and then drive by us at 100 miles per hour?" Dan asked. "[Are] they afraid of little people?" Finally a cab slowed down and rolled to a stop — but only so the driver could take a photo of the family before driving off. "Why do they keep passing by, Mom?" questioned Jack. 

Leave it to Michelle to save the day in a manner both lighthearted and heartwarming. "Why don't you try?" she encouraged Jack. "Let's see if you're any better." He proved that he was, hopping off the curb into the bike lane to perform the kind of attention-grabbing dance moves that only a child can master, and a taxi immediately pulled up. "See," Jack told his mom. "I have better technique than you!"

The truth about Our Little Family's ratings

Our Little Family ran for two seasons on TLC, concluding in October 2015.

Ratings for the first batch of episodes were solid, with a TLC press release proclaiming that the first season drew 1.7 million viewers and became a "top 5 cable program in its time period with women," citing data from Nielsen Media Research. This led to a fast renewal, although fans hoping for a third season were disappointed when Our Little Family didn't return after the second season ended.

Ahead of the second season's premiere, Michelle Hamill told Capital Gazette about some of the upcoming episodes, including a special crossover with the Roloffs from Little People, Big World that saw the Hamills travel from their home in Maryland to visit the Roloffs' Oregon farm. "That is my favorite episode," admitted Dan. "It was amazing." Dan also explained why he thought Our Little Family had connected with viewers. "Every life has drama, but we don't have over-the-top drama, just a lot of family activity," he said. "People who watch are realizing being little people affects our life, but doesn't hinder our life."

How a dinner with the stars of Our Little Family and Matt Roloff sparked controversy

The Roloff family from Little People, Big World paved the way for Our Little Family, and the Hamills became friendly with fellow TLC star Matt Roloff, joining him and girlfriend Caryn Chandler for dinner in July 2018. Roloff, father of Jeremy, Zachary, Molly, and Jacob Roloff, previously finalized his divorce with ex Amy in 2016. "Had dinner last night with my great friends... the Hamill family from Baltimore," wrote Roloff in the caption for a photo he shared on Facebook, adding, "#ourlittlefamly rocks."

That seemingly innocuous social media post, however, yielded unintended consequences. While comments to Roloff's post were overwhelmingly positive, there were also a few haters who spewed bile at Chandler, blaming her for the Roloffs' split. "I think he was having fun with Caryn long before the marriage ended. [She's] out for the money. And no she doesn't need to be in all the pictures," wrote one of the commenters criticizing Roloff's girlfriend. However, there were far more positive comments like this one: "All these Caryn haters, Matt divorced Amy not you! Let it go! There's many more things in this world deserving of your anger and indignation."

The Hamills didn't do Our Little Family for the fame

While some people would jump through flaming hoops for the opportunity to appear in a reality TV series simply to become famous, that wasn't a motivating factor for the Hamills. As the couple told OK! magazine, their primary goal for Our Little Family was to get out the message that little people are just people. "We certainly want to create awareness. I've said this before, I think because of other shows like Little People, Big World, we're a little more accepted on the street from people that never witnessed somebody like us before," explained Dan Hamill. 

"So the more awareness we could bring [to little people] that would be great," he added. "But we just want people to think we're entertaining and fun and that it's worth their time to watch. I think they'll pick out the things in our lives that are directly related to being little and I think they'll see a lot of things that have nothing to do with being little."

Why Our Little Family's stars avoided social media

While most reality TV stars are all over social media, that was decidedly not the case for the stars of Our Little Family. "We are not on Twitter or Instagram, we're just on Facebook," Michelle Hamill told OK! magazine in 2015, ahead of the show's premiere. "And we're fairly private on that," added husband Dan Hamill, who has since started a Twitter account

However, they both admitted they would probably become a little more engaged on social media after the show began. "So I'm sure we probably will," said Dan, "if we can do it in an interesting, polite way." 

Michelle noted that she "would like to do maybe Twitter." She went on, "To see if people care about what we do and what we say." Added Dan, "I don't mean this in a negative way but I'm a little afraid to join just because of time. I'm afraid I wont get my work done if I spend too much time on it." That's a valid concern, given as how people who give up social media find themselves being more productive throughout the day.

How the Hamills' lives have changed after Our Little Family premiered

While sharing their lives for Our Little Family led to some big changes in the Hamills' lives, in some ways, things remained much the same as they were before. For example, Dan Hamill told Capital Gazette in 2015 that, during filming of the series, he continued to work full time. "They haven't gotten rid of me yet," he joked.

On the flip side, the family were recognized whenever they left the house, with Michelle Hamill recalling the time they walked out of a restaurant and "a man said, 'You guys are everywhere! On my TV, in the parking lot.'" Dan noted, "People have asked us for autographs," jokingly adding, "[By] next season, I'll have to learn how to write." He also quipped, "People want pictures with us. Under 30, they want a selfie. Over 30, they have a friend do it."

As for their children, Dan revealed at the time, "Jack realizes he's on TV, but the girls don't." He continued, "They think they're watching home movies. They wonder how people know their name." Overall, however, Michelle declared, "My life hasn't really changed all that much. It's good."