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TRANSCRIPT FROM CHAT WITH ANNA (6.6.01)



american_high_host: Hi everybody! Welcome to tonight's chat with American High graduate Anna! She is prepared to answer YOUR questions LIVE in just a few minutes! Keep sending in your great questions. You can type them in in the box at the bottom of the page. Tonight's guest is American High grad Anna. Find out what she has been up to since high school. We're joined tonight by Anna. Welcome Anna!

Anna: Hi guys!

sugar_rush01: is it weird watching yourself on t.v. and knowing that millions of people are watching you go through high school life?

Anna: It was weird tonight, that's for sure! At the same time, it's exciting to know that I can relate to some people.

gemsing: do u wish things were different wit u and Kiwi romantically in H.S.?

Anna: No. I'm happy how things were. We were the best of friends and if it was anything more than that, it might have hurt the relationship. I do regret not spending more time with him second semester because he is a great guy and we missed that time to spend together.

gemsing: what does it feel like with a mixed (but great!) background?

Anna: What do you mean -- racially?

rosden1204: were you sure that you wanted to be in the video diaries?

Anna: The video diaries were, in my opinion, the best part. It was very therapeutic to spill your guts to the camera every night and to have people respond to your deepest thoughts. So I definitely miss that.

maxx832000: Can you ask how the show has changed her life?

Anna: It really hasn't changed it highly at all. I've been at school mostly so I haven't been around the heights. But the actual filming changed my life. The time spent in front of the camera and doing the video diaries affected me. The time doing the diaries is what shaped the person I am now, but the actual showing of American High hasn't affected me because my life would have happened anyway, the experiences I had would have happened anyway.

hamilton200: Hi Anna, do you regret or feel like your life has been invaded by millions of viewers?

Anna: No. The truth is ..... I've been at school most of the time. Maybe they've seen a snippet of my life and that's great. Hope they can appreciate that time and privacy I gave up, but you have to realize there's a lot more to me and everyone else on the show also.

gemsing: sorry, i meant ur racial background in general :O)

Anna: I guess sometimes I take it for granted, but I'm really lucky to be able to relate to a lot of different people on different levels, but I don't like to be put into any specific group ... racially, socially, politically, ............ because sometimes it's hard for me to have to defy people's stereotypes or meet their expectations about what I'm supposed to be. It's constant battle to create an identity because of the person I am and not because of the race I am.

groovyguy888: Anna, congrats on being prom queen, were you more suprised than they made it seem?

Anna: I hope I didn't come across cocky! It really was a big surprise! And honestly, I didn't want to build it up and make a big deal about it. It was a small, little perk to the prom.

KimbaBoomBoom: What happened with Brent after prom? Are you guys still friends?

Anna: I plead the 5th.

brentmcguire2001: This is more of a comment then a question I just want to say no show has ever brought more truth and realisim to TV then American High! I hope you feel very very proud to have been part of that!

Anna: Wow! Thank you. That makes me feel really proud to be a part of it. I'm glad you all like the show.

tom_by_day_francois_by_night: Do you like the publicity and being famous? The possibilities of young people looking up to you?

Anna: I love the possibility of having young people learn from my mistakes, but I'm really not famous! People don't come up to me at all.

rosden1204: did your family have a problem with you being on tv?

Anna: The truth is that when they were filmiing, it wasn't at all like it was going to be on tv. it was about filming a documentary.It was important to my family and to me to be able to express myself in a new way.

brentmcguire2001: Must be cool to have that past kinda frozen in time for you to look back on by just pressing play!

Anna: Absolutely! That's the best. I have boxes of my full diary entries. There's only the snippets on tv. They remind me of how far I've come, which is great. Since the day I graduated, I've been working my butt off. I went to summer school. I went away to college, which kicked my ass. I'm trying to relax a little bit and hopefully next week, I'll start working again.

relissamochelle: How is your relationship with your parents now that you're away?

Anna: Now that I'm away, in a lot of ways, it's been easier to have some distance and space. For me and for them. I hope it won't be too hard for me to be living at home this summer after having this independence and freedom.

gemsing: if u could change anything about ur H.S. experience, what would it be?

Anna: After being away at school, I realized that there were a lot of amazing people out there in the world and I wish that I'd had more balls and talked to some people I was curious about who I saw in the hallways and never made more of an effort to spend time with.

maxx832000: In your school when you had the camara and filmed people did they act different or did they stay themselves?

Anna: Depends on who you were with, to be honest. The people who were on the show ... I feel .... from what I can see .... were honest.Of course, my friends were. Once they were comfortable with the cameras ... then it's a lot easier to be yourself. It wasn't so much at school, because the cameras were always there. It was more strangers on the street who didn't know anything about the documentary. It was more of them .... it was harder to have an honest conversation with them.

american_high_host: We're chatting tonight with American High Grad Anna, keep sending in your great questions.

eyeobject: Does romance ruin friendships?

Anna: In some cases, I think it can. But at the same time, romance can be the most ultimate perfection of a friendship.

CyberTone: How was your time spent on Capitol Hill?

Anna: I love talking about DC and if anyone wants to be a Senate Page, go for it! If anyone has any questions, please contact the Page office. It was amazing. The best friend I had and ever will have are from my time on Capitol Hill!

sublime4233: Do you think the show could be benificial to parents or educators to see what kids are like and what they go through?

Anna: Oh, absolutely! I think for some parents and adults, it could be the best kind of education. The documentary shows honest feelings at a vulnerable time and it's often something that educators and adults aren't able to see. I hope they watch the show with an open mind.

miz_thang_420: Are you and Kiwi still friends? Or did you guys drift apart?

Anna: No, we're definitely still friends. I actually talked to him just an hour ago. Our second semester, we drifted a lot and I wish that we could have stayed as tight as we were at the beginning of the year. We stayed in touch during the summer and during the first year of college, so I'm looking forward to spending time with him this summer.

buffmonkey12: What was it like when Kiwi called you when you saw the first episode and you were talking about how you hadn't talked to him for a long time

Anna: I remember him calling and I was so happy to talk to him. It had been a long time. This was the first time I saw that making of the video ... STories of the Field. I never knew that he was so touched by watching us interact early in the year and it almost had me in tears just now because I reacted the same way. I started crying when I saw us on tv just because he was such a dear friend and I don't want to forget that. Ever.

tennisblondy: Anna, when you just said "learn by your mistakes" what did you mean?

Anna: I watch the show very differently from a normal audience. I'm very critical of my decisions. So I guess there are some things I fussed about that are not important AT ALL and it's almost embarrassing for me to think that I spent any time dwelling on it in the first place. I hope people can be proud and they're independent and it's not important if someone has a boyfriend. If it happens, wonderful. If not, wonderful. But I wish I didn't make a fuss about it.

cbdmel: what is a senate page???

Anna: A Senate Page is almost like a "gofer" in the U.S. Senate. All Senate Pages are 16 years old from all states, they live together for a semester and work together in the Senate running errands and copying amendments and taking role call and helping out the Senators with busywork. It's intense and work doesn't end until 10pm. But it's so much fun! Everyone should try to be one!!!!

alcatrazbasball: Did you feel that you had to change yourself or your image to be liked

Anna: To be liked? God, no!!! I really hope no one feels they need to do that. It's really important to be confident in yourself and like who you are and be satisfied in that.

michael_e_kelly: You always hear "It wasn't like they showed it on T.V." What came out the most altered, in your opinion?

Anna: In my opinion ... it's hard to say anything was "altered" at all. A 30 minute segment of 5 people's lives ... it's hard to encapsulate all the emotions in the entire situation. Not that anything wasn't real or true to life, sometimes it leaves holes in the story.

sublime4233: What do you think of the soundtrack they've used for the show? Is it fitting?

Anna: I don't always recognize the music, but there are some key moments, specially in silence, that they have great songs.> And Ally! She has great taste in music! She plays the right songs to fit our moods!

michael_e_kelly: Where any parents or students upset by their depictions on the show?

Anna: For me, I wish that I could have expressed more than how I feel about relationships. I wish I could have expressed more about other things that were important to me.

groovyguy888: Do you keep in touch with all the other "AH" gang?

Anna: We have had an incredible experience together, so whenever we see anyone else from the documentary, there's at least a conversation. I have a few friends from the show who I have been friends with for a long time and will always keep in touch with. Like Kiwi is one. And I've known Ally, Brad, and Scott since kindergarten, so they will always be important to me.

eoaui: Anna, how do you become a Senate page?

Anna: It depends on what state you live in. In Illinois, there's an application process through the Senator's office. I was appointed through Senator Durbin. But some states are small enough that you don't have to apply.

eyeobject: Do u want to be in politics?

Anna: Definitely not! I wanted to be a Page for the experience of living independently with people my age! But if you are, it's great! It's a great way to learn about government!

mastahav: who was your rolemodel??????

Anna: No name pops into my head right away which makes me want to say I don't have one. But there are people who have had an impact on my life. My friend's parents in particular have helped me figure out some of my problems. I've been pretty independent in my thinking and in achieving my goals. And knowing what makes me happy. I haven't really needed or wanted a single role model. Although I don' t have one role model, there are some people who I'm so awed by their grace and their talent and their intellect. For example, people like Julia Roberts or even Hillary Clinton, although I don't agree with everything she says.

afterglow1812002: HI! I will be graduating this upcoming year (c/o 2002 rules!) and I was wondering what kind of advice you could give me to make my senior the best?

Anna: Wow. I don't think that ..... it's very important to get an education but there are different ways to do it. I don't think it hurts to once in a while take the day off with friends

Anna: and make some awesome memories. i really think it's important to try to get to know people in your school who you normally wouldn't talk to. Like once a week, say hi to someone new maybe by the end of the year, you'll have a new friend. And don't stress out. Academics are important, for sure, but there are MANY different things to do after high school and don't let anyone make you think that you have to stick to one, or going to college. Have fun.

brentmcguire2001: So out of the whole American High experience what one word would you use to sum up the whole experience?

Anna: I guess ..... When people ask me questions about the show, that's usually the first thing. It's so hard to encapsulate everything I feel about it and all the emotions into one word. Or even one sentence. Or even in one conversation. To express my gratitude to the filmmakers and to RJ.

brentmcguire2001: Did you find having all that attention with the camera's and all did it give you more confidence?

Anna: No! No. I don't think so. Not for me. If any thing at times, it made me self-conscious. Like if I was walking down the hall alone and tripped, there was a crew watching me. But like I said, they were my friends and I was natural. My reactions and emotions were natural and I don't think I felt any extra confidence or self-consciousness in most cases.

eoaui: Did the producers or directors of AH ever intervene and stop a student from doing something "inappropriate?"

Anna: No. There is a fine line being filmmakers and adults. There were cases where certain students' health was in danger at parties. But they never took charge. This is my experience. I don't know. To me, there was never any problems with them needing to intervene.

american_high_host: We're chatting with American High grad Anna. Keep sending in your great questions.

hpwatcher99: Hey anna, miriam and a bunch of people are at my house... (Marco M from HP) they say hi... they wanna know how u are doing?

Anna: Hey guys!!!! Everything is great and I'm going to California for the weekend! But call me next week! Marco, I have a concert I want to go to with you!!!!

scottsgirl143: is college harder than highschool

Anna: It depends for everyone. For me, academically it wasn't harder than I expected. There's a lot more to juggle when you're away from home and a lot of responsiblity that you're not used to so be careful with how you deal with it and it should be fun.

afterglow1812002: I thought it was sweet that your dad would have asked you to prom if you didn't have a date. Would you have said yes to him?

Anna: Oh, God NO!!! Totally not!!! It's my DAD! Can you imagine? I didn't even know. But it was kind-of sweet.

eyeobject: What song got you through your worst moments?

Anna: I guess The Promise by Tracy Chapman. It's the song I listen to when I'm sad. But usually when I'm sad I try not to listen to sad music. Blink 182. Queen gets me through everything. Any kind of loud, upbeat music is what I like to cheer me up.

Xandar2: Anna, do you speak any other languages besides English?

Anna: I can understand and write Spanish almost fluently, but it's harder for me to speak. I'm working on it. I want to be fluent. I'm planning on studying abroad my junior year. It's frustrating having a last name of Santiago and not being able to speak Spanish, that's for sure!

aud4283: What do you hope to accomplish with your life?

Anna: Everything, I guess! I have everything to change and to pursue. And I think ....... I don't have any fancy goals yet beside finishing college and getting a place to myself. But there are things that I think personally as an individual ... it's important to change every day. To constantly revise the bad qualities of your personality. I guess it makes sense to weigh what makes you a beautiful person. I guess the tough part is trying to figure out what is good and bad about you as an individual but I think it's important to take the time to figure that out.

angelsweet24_7: do you have a personal motto?

vvurugrat: How weird is it that people you don't even know are asking you questions about your life?

Anna: It's hard for me to pick out one phrase that i always remember, but song lyrics are very important to me and I guess every month I have a new song lyric that I hold to. Right now, even though it's an old song, I've been singing to myself, REM I'm pushing Allison up the stairs. To me, it reminds me that I know I'm struggling through a lot, and that I have to realize that some things can't be fixed and I have to deal with that. And about it being weird that people are asking about my life .... to be honest, it's tough. I guess I'm talking to strangers and I don't know what they're going to think about me and I think about people not liking me after they sign off and that's unfair but I hope that through my rambling, that someone will be happy with something I've said. These questions are hard for me to answer. The documentary was hard filming 2 years ago. And it's hard for me to remember all the feelings that I had and to articulate them, but thank you for caring enough to ask what's on your mind.

brentmcguire2001: What has been the biggest misconception about you?

Anna: That I'm boy-crazy, maybe? LOL! :)

magnus45music: Is there something that someone has said to you that changed your life?

Anna: "I love you."

sublime4233: What are your thoughts on the "reality tv" trend?

Anna: It's entertaining. But American High does not fit into the stereotype. It's not "reality-based". It's the real lives of me and my peers that have not been tainted by corporate crap and filmmakers with their own ideals.

angelsweet24_7: if you were stranded on a desert island, what one luxury item would you bring? and why?

Anna: A journal, I guess?

ktgchance: What is your biggest fear after school?

Anna: I'm trying my best not to worry about something that far away. If I have to think about it ... it's important to have a good job and to be able to support myself. But who knows. It's too far away to care about right now.

aud4283: Do people on the street recognize you from the show?

Anna: Once in a while. I really haven't been home that long at all. Just a couple of days. At school, just once in a while.

eyeobject: If you had a teenaged daughter (years from now) would you let her be apart of an american high series?

Anna: I can't think of a reason why not unless she was a juvenile deliquent or something. Absolutely! It's very therapeutic and it was really important to me so I hope she'd be able to have the same experience.

concealed_innocence: do you think the students on the show are stereotypical and immoral or do you think they represent the teens of today's america

Anna: I think it's neither! You can't say that a handful of 5 or 10 or even 100 represents teens in America. Maybe certain aspects of their lives and personalities As far as the stereotypes go ... No one should be stereotyping them anyway in the first place,

gemsing: do u have any other siblings and if so, what did they think about all the cameras?

Anna: I have an older brother who missed the entire filming because he was away at school. I don't know. He didn't really understand the whole process.

rjent_10: Out of all the experiences that happend which would you say was the best one to you?

Anna: That's hard to say. For me, some of the best experiences never aired. I have tapes of things that were amazing to me that never aired. Certain special moments with my best girlfriends.

am2fun2: Were you suprised at the changes you saw in yourself and others from the beginning of American High to the end?

Anna: Yes. In some cases. And others, kind-of what I expected. For me, more than a surprise,.... it wasn't a surprise that I was more confident at the end of the year. The only way to become more confident is to struggle a little bit, and I definitely struggled my senior year.

american_high_host: Well we've reached the end of our chat. Anna thank you so much for joining us. What a great chat. And thanks for your great questions.

Anna: I just want to say thanks to everyone for taking the time to talk to me, and I'm glad that the show has brought up interesting questions. Good luck to everyone! And HI to Miriam and all them! And Travis and Haley!

american_high_host: And join us next week for another American High chat. We'll be chatting with Pablo. In the meantime be sure to visit the American High web site at www.pbs.org/americanhigh See you all next week.