How Does Hometown Pride Work?

Have you ever heard of someone famous who seems a little familiar, and then you realize that they are your age and grew up in your hometown?

That happened to me twice recently. I have this feeling of “hometown pride” despite not knowing these two people at all (and it’s a complete coincidence that we grew up in the same area at the same time), so I’m trying to understand it.

The first person is Constance Wu of Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians fame. She’s my age, and she went to high school at Douglas Freeman High School in Virginia. I played against their soccer team a few times each season.

The second person is Jenny Han. She’s a bestselling author, and a movie, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, recently release on Netflix to rave reviews (it’s great). She went to my high school, graduating a year before me. I vaguely remember her, but I don’t think we knew each other personally.

I love that these two people are successful and are creating amazing content. But I also feel this sense of hometown pride for them: yay, Richmond, Virginia!

But I don’t quite understand it. Why does the place where you grew up have any impact on how you feel about that area? I could understand it if the place itself had a specific, formative impact on me or them, but that’s not the case. They’re literally just two random people who randomly happen to grow up near where I grew up.

I would also understand if it was a “I knew her when…” situation, but I really didn’t know either of these people. I’m sure I crossed paths with Jenny a number of times (I attended a small magnet school), but I don’t remember.

Yet I’m rooting for them because of our shared, completely coincidental location. And maybe that’s okay. It’s not hurting anyone, I’m happy for them, and for some reason it feels good to have that very loose connection.

What do you think? Is there someone your age from your hometown who has made it big? Have you examined your sense of hometown pride for them?

4 thoughts on “How Does Hometown Pride Work?”

  1. A good friend of mine from high school just wrapped production on his first big feature film as director. I am very proud of him as I helped him years ago produce some music videos and a short film that we debuted together. Film is hard work and his persistence has paid off.

    As a Saint Paul-ite from MN, the Leder Games folks have been having a killer year in the board gaming world with the great kickstarters of Vast:TMM and Root killing it at Gen Con. Seeing all of the posts and the accolades online has made me very happy for them and I hope to continue to volunteer and help them succeed in any way possible.

    It’s great to have these folks make ripples on social media and have it spread. It makes me feel proud to be able to consider them a friend.

  2. Jamey,

    For me, it’s Will Smith. He grew up in West Philly, while I grew-up not far away in the Northeast. While there was little chance that we would’ve crossed paths (but I have this really cool idea that in the afterlife, I can access all of the footage of my life and others and see where we may have crossed paths long before I actually met them), I’m genuinely happy for the guy who has had an astonishing career from hip-hop artist, to TV actor, to a blockbuster movie icon. Go Philly!


  3. The year is 2003. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in their history. But they are playing against a team for whom it is its third final in four years. And their goalie… Martin Brodeur. The guy you will finish its career with the most wins in NHL history.

    The first two games in New Jersey are not great for Anaheim. Zero goal. Let’s hope they at least get one in the third game, at home, in front of their fans. And they did. Three minutes in. And the scorer? Marc Chouinard. A guy with whom I had classes in high school. Not alot of people know this bit of trivia. Put anyone else in this place in time and I don’t know this. But because it is someone I went to school with, I will always remember the name of the player who scored Anaheim’s first ever Stanley Cup goal, and against one of the best goaltender ever. 🙂

    I cannot explain this sense of pride. We were never friends and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know who I am. But i’m still happy about it.


Leave a Reply

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading