What is “Little People, Big World”?
The TLC reality series “Little People, Big World” first aired in March 2006, and follows the most famous family of little people in the world: the Roloffs. For as long as many viewers can remember, the Roloff clan lived an idyllic lifestyle on their Portland, Oregon farm, although things have changed recently. The stars of the show are parents Matt and Amy and their son Zach, who all have dwarfism.
In August 2010, it was announced that “Little People, Big World” would come to an end after season six, but after a change of plan the show has continued for a further 17 seasons. As of December 2022, over 370 episodes of the series have aired.
The Roloff family have also starred in three specials that were released after season six, namely, “Conquering Mount St. Helens”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, and “Breaking Down the Walls”. In November 2012, the spin-off miniseries “Little People, Big World: Wedding Farm” followed Matt and Amy as they delved into the entrepreneurial world by launching a wedding business on Roloff Farms.
The Roloffs were approached by TLC in 2004 or 2005, as the network was looking for a show that could inform people what life with dwarfism is like. The Roloff patriarchs initially agreed due to a lack of media representation of people with their condition.
Matt, Amy, Zach, Jeremy, Molly, and Jacob are the members of the Roloff clan; some of the second-generation Roloffs have also formed their own families in recent years. Molly and Jacob are both of average height, and it’s interesting to note that Jeremy is as well, despite being Zach’s fraternal twin.
Most of the filming takes place in Roloff Farms, a sprawling 36-acre property which, for years, has also been used to harvest and sell pumpkins. Matt, who spent his childhood in and out of hospitals, converted most of the farm for his children to enjoy when they were younger.
Matt and Amy Roloff
Born in California in October 1961, Matt Roloff is an author, motivational speaker, farmer and TV personality. The patriarch of the Roloffs was born with diastrophic dysplasia, a rare degenerative dwarfism condition that caused him to need over a dozen operations during his formative years. Despite missing out on school and many other normal childhood experiences, Matt credits his condition to having made him a stronger individual.
Matt’s parents, Ron and Peggy Roloff, appeared frequently in the show until Ron’s tragic death in August 2022. Ron was of average height, as are Peggy and their oldest daughter Ruth; however, Matt’s younger brother Sam was also born with diastrophic dysplasia, and the middle brother, Joshua, died of severe heart malformations in 1999, when he was just 34 years old.
Matt met Amy while attending a Little People of America convention in 1987, and they hit it off immediately; months later, they’d become engaged and married. After almost three decades of solid union, the famous couple left fans heartbroken in March 2014, when they announced their separation. The divorce announcement came in June 2015 and was finalized in the following year.
Matt and Amy bought Roloff Farms in 1988. Some of its key features include a volleyball court, full-size medieval castle, regulation soccer field, and a mine shaft, which were all installed by Matt in happier times. In late 2022, the TV personality angered fans and family members alike when he listed part of the farm for sale for $4 million. Although the farm is no longer on the market, Matt partnered up with a company, and will be using the property for short-term rentals as early as 2023.
This is a smart business decision, given that the farm is visited by up to 30,000 people a year, but one that also drove a wedge in the Roloff family, as some members wanted to keep it in the family for following generations. It doesn’t help that Matt’s new girlfriend, Caryn Chandler, has been supportive of the idea; in fact, some fans have even called Caryn an opportunist, who is in the relationship for the wrong reasons.
Matt is definitely more of a showman than his ex-wife Amy, which is little surprise, given that he had various acting credits prior to inking a reality show deal with TLC. Matt played an Ewok in “Ewoks: The Battle for Endor” and was an extra in “Under the Rainbow”; for decades, he’d also been friends with the famous actor Martin Klebba, who possibly helped him get his foot in the entertainment industry.
Matt and I at a dinner after golf event in memory for friends whose son passed away earlier this year. Very special.
However, acting has never been Matt’s passion in life. In the late 1980s, he worked for Altos Computer Systems as a programmer, and sold systems software to Fortune 500 companies. Later on, a friend recommended that he relocate to Oregon to work for Sequent Computer Systems, and avoid being burned out by the demanding work pace in Silicon Valley.
In April 1990, Matt and Amy relocated to Portland during her first pregnancy. As of late 2022, the TV star is the co-founder of Direct Access Solutions, a business that sells the hospitality industry accessibility products to be used by little people.
Amy Jo Roloff, née Knight was born in Michigan in September 1962. She is a motivational speaker, author, baker, TV star, and proud mother and grandmother with thousands of fans around the globe. Her father, Gordon Knight, worked for the Ford Motor Company, while her mother Patricia was a housewife who devoted herself to raising Amy and her other three children: Roger, Cyndi and Katherine.
Amy, who was born with achondroplasia, matriculated from Franklin High School, and graduated with a degree in business studies from Central Michigan University. She is less open to the limelight than her ex-husband Matt, but has given occasional interviews or promoted her projects on “Good Morning America”, “Oprah”, and other popular shows.
In 2012, Amy became an author upon publishing “Short and Simple Family Recipes” with WestWinds Press. The cookbook contained 75 original family recipes, and was a roaring success. Other of Amy’s works include “Little People, Big Values” and her autobiography, “A Little Me”. Four years after publishing her first work, the TV star opened an online bakery, named Amy Roloff’s Little Kitchen.
Throughout the course of her media career, Amy has also been committed to using her platform for good deeds. In 2009, she founded the Amy Roloff Charity Foundation, which ran for over 11 years and helped hundreds of people. These days, she champions noble causes such as the development of low-income senior housing and homeless shelters. Another charity close to her heart is the Dwarf Athletic Association of America.
Motivational speaking is yet another of Amy’s talents. To date, she’s been a keynote speaker for a Dr. James Borland Convocational Series for Adrian College, a Lakes Health Conference, the Women’s Power Launch, and an Empowering Women in Business Conference. She is also a regular speaker of the Get Motivated series, a business seminar aimed at all demographics, regardless of their background.
While married, Amy and Matt overcame many hurdles together, such as a 2009 lawsuit filed by a visitor to their farm, who alleged that the couple had neglected safety procedures; the case was quietly settled out of court in 2013. Fans wondered who would keep Roloff Farms when the divorce was announced; Matt purchased Amy’s part, and she relocated to a new place. In September 2019, she became engaged to her long-term boyfriend Chris Marek, and their wedding ceremony took place at Roloff Farms in 2021.
With millions of followers on social media and having been part of “Little People, Big World” since he was just 15 years old, Zach Roloff is on his way to becoming the star of the show. The TV personality was born in May 1990, and was the only sibling who stayed with his parents while the others made their own way in life; however, his outlook was changed by recent circumstances, namely his parents’ divorce, and he’s currently living away from the farm.
In summer 2015, Zach married his long-time girl friend Tori. In the following four years, they would welcome two babies to the family named Jackson and Lilah, both of whom were born with dwarfism. Prior to meeting Zach, Tori worked as a kindergarten teacher; these days, she is a housewife and part-time photographer. Before moving out, Zach helped run operations at Roloff Farms, and was a youth soccer coach.
Sadly, 2022 wasn’t a particularly good year for Zach. By that point, Roloff Farms had become a bone of contention for the family, especially because Zach wanted to purchase the north end of the property, but Matt would only sell it to him for a hefty price. News of a rumored feud between Zach and Matt began circulating online, and in a June 2022 episode of the show, the patriarch tried to patch things up with his son by buying him a lawnmower.
— People (@people) July 26, 2015
“It’s nice that my dad brought the lawnmower, but the relationship is still tense. It’s not like what it was,” Zach confirmed in a confessional in the same episode. Previously, he has also admitted that it felt like Matt didn’t consider him capable enough of running the north end of the farm, which understandably hurt Zach’s feelings.
Some of Matt’s responsibilities included providing guided tours of Roloff Farms, but that all came to an end when he and his family moved. It’s unclear what he does for a living these days, but in recent years he’s hosted several soccer fundraisers for dwarf athletics. He is quoted as saying: “Everything comes back to soccer. It taught me a lot about teamwork and sacrifice… A lot of my life philosophies can be traced back to soccer.” For now, the TV star appears to be more focused on using his fame to do good deeds, rather than lining his pockets.
Zach’s twin brother Jeremy, is another social media phenomenon thanks to his attractiveness and generosity. Upon matriculating from high school, he briefly attended Portland Community College, before transferring to the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara. In 2012, a year after graduating, he began working as a camera operator for Human Not Hollywood Productions.
Jeremy’s longest job to date has been a seven-year stint as an operator working at Cloudless Weddings. In the early 2010s, he also obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in photography. Understandably, Jeremy put his TV appearances on the backburner to focus on his professional and personal lives.
In 2010, Jeremy met his future wife Audrey on a blind date arranged by mutual friends. They tied the knot four years later, and welcomed their first child Ember Jean in September 2017. Although by now Jeremy was barely appearing in the show, he decided to leave altogether when Ember turned one. In January 2020, Jeremy and Audrey completed their family unit with the birth of Bode James. Despite being offered the opportunity to purchase part of Roloff Farms, they turned it down.
Jeremy and Audrey launched their podcast, “Behind The Scenes”, in November 2018. Other joint projects include their two books: the New York Times Bestseller “A Love Letter Life”, and “Creative Love: 10 Ways to Build a Fun and Lasting Love”.
Molly and Jacob Roloff are the quiet siblings who haven’t been in the spotlight for years. In December 2020, Jacob caused a social media stir when he accused a former producer of “Little People, Big World” of molesting him when he was underage. The producer in question, Chris Cardamone, had previously pleaded guilty to a child sex crime in 2008, but was somehow allowed to keep working on the show.
Fans of “Little People, Big World” were outraged, with some of them blaming Matt and Amy themselves for not realizing. However, Jacob emphasized in an Instagram post that the fault lay entirely with Chris, not his family members. As can be expected, the Roloff family rallied around Jacob and supported him during the difficult time, whereas Chris and TLC declined to comment, perhaps wishing to sweep the unsavory incident under the rug.