By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree
Hollywood’s doors just recently began to open for Philip Michael, after he received the Golden Ticket among foreign actors: a U.S. work visa. Now, Michael believes that the sky is the limit for his career.
With a wealth of confidence in his abilities (after all, he did graduate from Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts), Michael is living in California and ready to break out in Hollywood. “What's funny is that we have this idea like when you see American films, like the blonds and the models were in the certain way. And I thought, ‘Nah, they can't really be like that,’” the actor said in a recent phone interview. “And I got over and I'm like, 'Oh, my gosh, it's so true.' It's such a whole different brand of people, it's so funny.”
Although he’s in California now doing what he loves, his road to becoming a well-known actor has been relatively rough.
Growing up between a poverty-stricken predominantly Muslim-Arabic area in Nigeria and living on little in London, Michael always had a passion for acting, but felt as though he had to hide that passion, which didn’t make his childhood any easier.
“Growing up my dream was to pursue acting, but in that culture it's really shunned upon. That's something you don't really want to do. You either become a doctor or a scientist, something you can really be more respected in the profession with. So it was like a joke for what I wanted to do,” Michael said. “For a number of years, I had to keep that [hidden] within my heart … . I began to find different ways of being creative, which is like, my martial arts, my acrobats, things like that. And eventually, eventually, I was able to start pursuing acting, and that's what really pushed me forward to come here.”
After a run on the Irish soap opera “Fair City,” Michael landed a small but memorable role as Pepper in the 2008 film “Mamma Mia!” But immediately after that, he found himself stuck in audition limbo because of his lack of a visa.
“The problem initially is that, for example, because I lived in London without a working visa at first, the opportunities closed right then and [there],” the actor said. “Back in London, you'd be doing auditions realizing that you're doing auditions just to make the numbers, but there's no way you're going to get the role.”
And then the actor got his two-year working visa, something that he says is “not guaranteed” with foreign actors, also noting that the process takes a really long time.
“When I got the visa two days later, I booked my flight and just came over. Not knowing anyone at all,” he said.
Even so, the sailing has been much smoother for Michael since landing in the U.S. “I’ve had many meetings, and because, obviously, now having the new visa, the doors have just opened.”
Currently, Michael is working on a superhero project with a director from London, a role that should suit him well. Michael, a taekwondo champion who also has incredible acrobatic and acting skills, should revel in this opportunity. It might just be the role Philip Michael needs to help launch his career.