RICHMOND, Va. -- Alana Thomas is still glowing after a surprise proposal by her longtime boyfriend and VCU sweetheart Eric Briggs.
The two were first introduced by mutual friends nearly seven years ago while attending VCU.
After leaving VCU, Thomas moved to New York City to pursue show biz. She continued her relationship with Briggs despite the long distance.
“When I moved to New York it was really rough. But it really made us strong and focus on our dreams and aspirations,” she said.
About three years in, Thomas said she knew Briggs was the one.
“I knew that I wanted to be with him for the rest of his life,” she said. “We're proof that distance does make the heart grow fonder and definitely stronger.”
The 28-year-old actress returned to her adopted home on Sunday, July 9, to perform in the Virginia Repertory Theatre’s production of "In the Heights."
Little did she know, her boyfriend of nearly seven years had been planning a proposal for over six months with her family, friends, co-workers and the theatre.
“I only thought that my mom, dad, nephew, and brother were going to be at the show,” Thomas said.
After the first number, cast mates revealed that Briggs and his friends were in attendance as well.
“I was just excited that he was here,” she said. “My family is all here. My boyfriend and friends are all here. This is an amazing show.”
The magical moment happened during the curtain call, when Briggs stood up, walked on stage, took the mic, and the crowd of nearly 600 went into a frenzy.
“He's certainly not the type to be on a stage in front of hundreds of people, but he was and stole the show,” she said.
Briggs, a self-described introverted, took center stage and poured his heart out to Thomas.
“There was a time when I was trying to find myself and you didn’t try to make me into a man that you wanted, but you allowed me to grow into the man that I needed to be and you stood with me throughout that process. I love you and there’s something I want to give you,” Briggs said.
That’s when he got down on one knee and said the magic words “Alana, will you marry me.”
After letting out a euphoric scream, Thomas said yes!
“I almost blacked out a few times," she said. "I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
The life changing moment was captured on camera and has since been posted on YouTube.
The proposal has special significant because it brings their relationship full circle to their time at VCU and at the Virginia Repertory Theatre.
“It’s just amazing because that theatre means so much to me. That’s where I started my professional career,” said Thomas.
“The night of my first show, almost seven years ago. He walked me from our dorm to the theatre. We were just talking, right before I went in for the show, he said I would like to date you,” she recalled.
The rest is history.
Thomas said she couldn’t ask for the proposal to be done any other way.
“For it to be the place where I started this journey is so meaningful,” she said.
Thomas said she wanted to share her story because it’s proof that there are true love stories.
“Crazy love stories can still happen, it might happen when you least expect it and with someone you least expect.”
She said she hopes this story will help other people believe that "Virginia is for Lovers."