Some Like It Utt

By Jerry Donato

Contributed by : Chris

Some like it Utt

For the past 12 months, the local entertainment scene has witnessed a trend many called "Asian invasion." The Philippines has become the playing grounds of such Asian/regional artists as F4, Asos and 5566. It was the first-time that American and European boy bands and solo artists took the backseat for a while, although Mandy Moore could still give them a run of their money. This "shift of taste or preference" was seemingly unusual in a country whose people are fond of anything Western. As a college friend put it, "this could be a sign of times."

Recently, another Asian invasion was made by another regional superstar. His name is VJ Utt of MTV Asia, also known as Greg Uttsada Panichkul to fans in Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines. If my hunch is correct, Utt could have plans of trying or testing the waters of the local entertainment.

"I'm just biding my time to see what's going on here in the Philippines," says Utt of his visit.

"If I'm welcomed here, then that's great."

If there are offers like doing a soap opera, a commercial or a film, many wonder how Utt will handle them.

"For my career, I have my managers (representatives) who have the vision for what I should do," says Utt.

"I'll talk to them first." "I think it's a matter of logistics and time because I'm also being managed in Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong," explains Utt.

"What about a soap opera? I would like to do one or tackle something different."

However, Utt's dream project now is "to do a regional show in English that transcends borders." Given the chance to make it big here and doing a film or a drama he truly wishes to do, Utt says

"It depends on the project and the script. Sometimes you'll find a project which has nothing to do with what you are looking for which is interesting because the arts are there. If it's a good enough project, it speaks of itself. "A good project for me is something right for me at the time in terms of logistics, what I'm doing now, the people the company is looking for and the company I'm working for," he elaborates.

If Utt seems to be playing safe with his answers, it's because he has been doing TV and movie, commercials for a decade back in Thailand.

Who is VJ Utt to his legions of fans? More than his wacky and bubbly personality shown on and off camera, Utt is a 29-year-old "Amerasian" – American on his mother side and Thai on his father side. His mixed lineage makes Utt enjoy both cultures, the liberal mind of the West, and the deep, grounded attitude of the East. Thus, it's no doubt VJ Utt has become successful all these years. Before he became a VJ, Utt spent his childhood and young adult life in the States. At 18, he went to Thailand and tried to experience a change of lifestyle. He also wanted to go back to his roots. During his stay, the then happy-go-lucky California lad concentrated on other important things in life. One of them was his education. He finished a degree in Arts at the Assumption University in Bangkok. He entered the local showbiz scene and started to create his own niche in the minds of the Thais. Eventually, Utt has become one of the youngest pillars of the Thai TV and Movie industry. To his fans, Utt is best remembered as a matinee idol who has appeared in more than a dozen soap operas and movies in Thailand. Utt also has become VJ or presenter of music and TV shows like Bangkok Jam, MTV's Most Wanted, Asia Hit List and MTV Screen and Start. Adding to his achievements, Utt is also a strong endorser of a host of products like Giordano, Pepsi with Britney Spears, Ferrero Rocher, Yamaha Motorcycle, Sunsilk, Epson, Gatsby, Adidas (Singapore) among others. In fact, Utt is the local counterpart of Aga Muhlach in terms of popularity, expanse of talent and versatility. In other words, Utt is a multi-media artist whose face has been a "secret" to the success of many products.

From Thailand to Singapore, Utt has never waned in pursuing his interests. He still does veejaying and acting in TV drama series. During these times, Utt has realized what work ethics best fits him as an artist and as an individual.

"I just describe myself now as a puppy," jokes Utt. "I'm loyal, faithful. At times, I'm quite innocent in looking at things. I think it's rare for someone my age. I'm 29 but I feel I'm still 19."

Jetsetting in at least three countries every month and working at that, Utt must have been in love with what he does for life – and for living .

"It's the passion," says Utt.

"One has to have passion in one's work. Once one doesn't have it, it will reflect in one's work, and the way one handles it."

But what makes Utt hold on and stay with his work, he says are the endless possibilities that could happen along the way.

"It brings me to places like the Philippines, or places I don't expect to be in," says Utt.

"Reaching many people and fans comes with it. That's why I consider my profession coolest." "Being on TV, as a VJ, I'm not a spokesperson. I'm not there to save lives. I don't have any agenda. I'm just there to entertain," says Utt. "If someone reads anything about me (through a write-up) or listens to me on TV and learns from it, that influences him in a good way, that's good. And I'm not responsible if he goes the other way or goes astray. But I still have a social responsibility not to promote things that are bad."

Asked what is the one thing he hopes is not part of his profession,

Utt replies,"(That) I have to deal with people who are `plastic.' (You know) I'm probably a transparent person." "There's a slight difference in me on and off TV. On TV, there's a cut. There's a portion that could be and couldn't be shown. On a personal level, I could stumble with my words... and say, `Ooops, sorry.' And, that's the part of me one can see. As VJ, it would be hard if a lot of my personality won't come out."

If Utt's visit to the country could mean another Asian invasion, his "tried and tested formula" to make Filipinos love him is,

"Be who you are. One should know one's craft well."

(For inquiries, e-mail to mary@u... or call at 0917-7957900. Utt is managed by Publicity Asia Ltd.

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December 2003 - January 2004