Autumn Allen, 13, hasn’t seen her mother since she was 6 years old — her mother stayed in the U.S. while Allen and her father moved to Cambodia.
Allen, a singer who has performed on Cambodian television, was invited to meet her mother on a Mother’s Day edition of the Cambodian variety television show "Penh Chet Ort" (Like It Or Not). She was told she would finally get to meet her mother.
"She held me and kissed me and told me that she would always love me,” Allen tearfully told the audience, describing her only memory of her mother.
Instead of Allen’s mother, comedian Chuop Rolin, one of the show’s judges, showed up on stage, dressed in drag. Allen had a good sense of humor about the prank, which was captured in a video (below).
“On that day I was very excited because I thought (my mother) was actually coming,” she told The Phnom Penh Post. “Initially I was disappointed, but Rolin made me laugh so I had fun on the show. My dad was very proud of how I handled myself in the situation. He took me to a nice restaurant afterward.”
Many viewers were less forgiving than Allen. “Such a brainless and shameful trick from MYTV! A—, how can you play with her feeling like this?” Kanika Chhit wrote on Facebook.
Ou Virak, a political analyst and founder of the Future Forum, wrote on Facebook: “The producer was stupid and brainless and heartless by playing around with the mind and heart of a 13-year-old girl in this way. They lied to this girl that her mother she hasn’t met for a very long time will be reunited on live TV, only to be presented with a cross dressing comedian. The joke of the cross dressing is also a sickening joke of people of LGBT and it is just all too common on Cambodian TVs.”
"Penh Chet Ort" producer Taboi agreed that the prank was a mistake and said he would apologize. “We produced that program to make Allen and other people happy. We wanted to send Allen a message that although she has no mother, our team loves her as family so that we play with her to make her smile,” he said.
“It was a surprise for her and I just told her to sing one song on that day. She didn’t know about it at all because she just knew that she came to sing. I know it is wrong and we will have special program for her on 'Oh La La' program.”
Allen believes her mother lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, and still hopes to meet her.
Image via YouTube