FEATURED PHOTO: MIGUEL OSBORNE AS THE MACY’S TOY MANAGER IN ‘ELF THE MUSICAL’
mxoentertainment.com, By Ms. Osupa Nia, Posted December 23rd 2021
MIGUEL OSBORNE IN THE MACY’S TOY MANAGER CHARACTER IN ‘ELF THE MUSICAL.’
MXEONTERTAINMENT.COM (MXO) had the opportunity to interview Miguel Osborne (MO) one of the cast members of ‘ELF THE MUSICAL!’
MXO: Good afternoon, Miguel. I’d like to thank you so much for this interview
MO: No problem, thank you.
MXO: My name is Osupa pronounced o-shoe like in shoes-pa and I represent Max’nOut Entertainment. And first I’d like to say wow 45 years in the performing arts that is a mile stone.
MO: Yes, it is I’m quite proud and humble.
NXO: Yes, and you have quite a few credentials too! But even if you started at the age of 15 you would be 60 years old and you don’t look a day over 45! What is your secret?
MO: Lots of water, less stress as possible and mint julep facials.
MXO: Oh man do you like facials excuse me (laughter)… You do them yourself?
MO: Yes, I do. I initially started as a cosmetologist. When they started adding the acrylic to the nails the fumes had me passing out on the floor waking up with curling irons in my hand! So, I had to find a new occupation. Let me say that wasn’t my first occupation I started off as a singer and a dancer. My first performance was at six years old At Marion Correctional Institution. My Aunt Joanne Azadi Bray was a poet for the Black Panthers back in the day and had a business called Peoples Busing Program where she took civilians to prisons to visit the inmates because there was no transportation other than Greyhound. Sometimes they would leave you out stranded on the road. So, she developed that business and they asked her for some entertainment.
So my aunt and my cousins would go up on stage in hot pants and velvet vest. I was in my little dashiki and was doing some Michael Jackson medleys and preaching love peace and soul. Another one of her poems was called ‘Call Me Militant Because Nigger Just Won’t Do. I think I have those poems somewhere in my archives because I wanted to keep them alive. So, my aunt and my cousins were in their little hot pants and velvet vest with big Afros. I’m in my little dashiki singing power to the people. When the prisoners came in to the show, they just went crazy. Then I went wait a minute, I kind of like this affect that they are applauding what I’m doing! So long story short from that when they said the little boy was finished singing, they started rioting and wanted more. So, my aunt was in a wheelchair they sat my little butt in her lap and we began to get out of the prison! So that was my first level of performance as a six- year-old kid. It was crazy and I’ve been doing it ever since and now I’m 53 years old.
MXO” (Laughter) OK interesting and as I was doing my research on you, I said Miguel is quite a man of mystery. There is no digital footprint of you online. I did fine AzadI unique on Facebook and you took a screen grab of my website on your Facebook page in anticipation of this interview. Thank you so much for that!
MO: No problem I’ve got people waiting to find out what this interview is all about! (Laughter).
MXO: You were saying your aunt was the founder of this bus program and my question was going to be are you related to her but you just explained everything and you named your fashion line after her.
MO: Yes, that was my oldest aunt and she was my main mentor In my life. She was the first person to put me on stage. The first person to take me to the theater. It’s because of her and the seeds she planted in me that I am who II am, and the man that I am today. There were other positive adult figures in my life but she was the first to put it in me and ignite that spark.
MXO: That’s great that is so great! There’s always somebody in your life who is going to have an influence on you. Whether it’s a good or bad influence it’s going to be an influence. That was really a great influence that your aunt had on you. Are you from East Cleveland?
MO: I was born and raised in Cleveland and from East Cleveland. My mother Eve Westbrook is vice president of the East Cleveland school system, retired police officer and a retired investigator for the county. So, I had a lot of strong women in my life. My mother once told me if you get arrested for something you did get comfortable. If you get arrested for something that just happen to get swept away and it wasn’t your fault, I’ll come you get you! So, I had to make sure every hustle I had was a in a legitimate one! (Laughter).
MXO: Well, I love your Afrocentric fashion designs at Azadi Unique. Can you tell people how they can purchase your products?
MO: Thank you! I used to have a website but it became more of a hassle than it was a benefit and I was the only one doing everything. But you can find me through Facebook at the Friends Who Like Azadi Unique page. And I’m also the leading designer at The AfricaHouse International on 81st in Hough Avenue. That’s where I’m at now this is my second job.
MXO: So that’s what you’re doing in the daytime.
MO: Well in the mornings I’m holding down the front desk at the Intercontinental Hotel.
MXO: Omg! When do you stop?
MO: Yes, I will rest when I’m dead! I’ve got a legacy to leave! So, I’m going to work until it happens. And work after that! I would love to have residual income and I can just sit on the couch and eat bonbons and wake up and there’s a check in my bank, but that hasn’t happened yet and I‘m still working for it and praying for it. So, right now I’m at the hotel in the mornings until around 3:30 in the afternoon and then I go to the AfricaHouse International and I sew for about three or four hours and then I go home If I’m not going to the theater.
MXO: Well I would like to say that you are quite a talent in the theater, film and ensemble productions. What did the ensemble production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ entail?
MO: Oh wow that’s the music of Fats Waller one of my favorite shows ever! And I say one of my favorite shows because it’s our history, it’s our legacy. A lot of our youth right now are missing our roots. They’re going out singing Lil Kim…Lil Kim is okay…but Nicki Minaj and all that other stuff. They’re viable talents in their own rights but I like music that has meaning and some soul and substance. Fats Waller music came from blues and jazz and the Cotton Club days when every man had on a suit and their hair was as my granddaddy used to say ‘fried dyed and laid to the side!’ They were always wearing suits, there were no t-shirts, jeans, sneakers and saggy pants and all of that stuff. The ladies were very elegantly dressed in furs and you know… The Cotton Club era! I like that class and I like to maintain that class. We have evolved away from that class. But I like going back into that period of time and those period pieces like ‘Dreamgirls.’ I’ve been Jimny Early in ‘Dreamgirls’ a couple of times and I can do Jimmy Early in my sleep!
MXO: Now the ensemble production of Ain’t Misbehavin’ where was it performed it?
MO: It was performed at Karamu House and I’ve been in and out of the Karamu House as an actor and as a costume designer since 1988. Ain’t Misbehavin’ was produced and choreographed by Reggie Kelly at the Karamu House . Reggie Kelly is another one of my mentors.
MXO” So theater film, live entertainment and ensemble productions which one of these genres is you passion?
MO: All of them. The ones that I can get paid for (laughter). I love them all I like to entertain! Sitting at the front desk at the Intercontinental Hotel every client that walks up to me is a different show. So there are people that are coming there for procedures or coming to see somebody that is getting treatment there and I like to let them leave (as far (as my portion of the front desk is concerned) with a smile on their face or an afterthought later on and they chuckle from something I said or animated. To be able to translate a piece to somebody and have them feel it is a joy to me. To be able to create something or exude something that makes people feel good about it and can walk away with something because of something I’ve done I think that is what most artists enjoy about the craft. I can’t say all artist because some people have other reasons as to why they do what they do. For me and mine it’s just about sending someone away with joy.
Even with the role as small as the Macy’s toy store manager in Elf It’s a small role I but I try to give them the most as I can. As soon as I open my mouth, I try to give them all that I’ve got.
MXO: And you are very humble but let us not forget you have to share the screen with Nelly, Dean Winters, Zoe Saldana, Bruce Willis, Pamela Anderson, Madeline Stow I mean we’re talking a number of celebrities that are heavy hitters here! So do you prefer live theater as opposed to film?
MO: I prefer my theater as opposed to film. One, film pays a little more (laughter). However, in live theater I can hear the gasp and the laughter. I can hear it right there! I have performed with those people. I’ve met a number of folks that are quote unquote celebrities. However, at this particular time I’m not in California. I’m nowhere near there. I’m right here in Cleveland Ohio. When people hear that about me they say oh you’re a star! And I say no baby I’m in Cleveland and just a ball of gas right now! I’m not out there doing that anymore. I like to feel that I have their blessings for me. I sat at Phyllis Hyman’s dining room table and she cooked fried chicken for me while I was living in Philadelphia. She’s gone on, but I felt more in a celebrity status sitting at her dining room table playing spades and eating fried chicken. She had a little rag on her head and little house coat and whatever (laughter). She was just regular people.
That time has gone now and I don’t really get caught up in the stardom.They asked me for a bio for ‘Elf’ and I had to go back and find all of my files to remember what I did.
MXO: And here you are performing at the Beck Center for the Arts for the holiday production of ‘Elf The Musical.’ Tell us about ‘Elf The Musical’ what can we expect?
MO: It’s a joyful Christmas musical where an elf named Buddy on the North Pole grows up to find out that he is human after all. So, he comes to New York from the North Pole to find his biological father and he runs across me the Macy’s toy manager, the love of his life and others. It’s a series of fun filled holiday moments. It’s very Christmassy, they even have snowflakes falling down on the set. It’s an interesting run, I got a call from Scott Spence out of nowhere saying give me a call I need you. I saw the elf advertising on the website and I said I’m not gonna play no elf! I’m too big to be an elf (laughter)! He said no I need you as the Macy’s toy store manager. It’s a small role and I know you’re busy? So, I said okay it’s a small role, I don’t have to do a lot. All right I’ll do it. So here I am!
MXO: And are you singing?
MO: Yes, I’m singing in two songs with the major cast. But I have one little cameo moment where I sing three lines. But like I said every time I open my mouth I make it the most! I can hear the audience go oh my goodness!
MXO: You should of had more lines.
MO: I should have had a whole song (laughter)!
MXO: OK well I don’t want to reveal too much in this interview because we want people to go and see ‘Elf The Musicial’ at the Beck Center for the Performing Arts. This is an all age show?
MO: Yes it is all ages.
MXO: Great well much success on the staging of ‘Elf The Musical’ and again thank you so much for this interview Miguel.
MO Thank you no problem.
MXO: Break a leg!