By RYCH McCAIN in Hollywood
On TV he is ‘Oscar’, the wise cracking front desk manager on the popular Nickelodeon Network hit TV series, “True Jackson VP”, starring Keke Palmer. In real life he is the son of Bahamian superstar singer, guitarist, songwriter Ronnie Butler, AKA “The Godfather of Bahamian Music” whose hits include ‘Goin Down Burma Road’, ‘What We Ga Do’ and ‘Sweet Music Man’. Even after over 50 years of performing, mainly in the Bahamas, the elder Butler still packs them in wherever he performs.
Born and raised in the Bahamas, the younger Butler is not one to let moss grow under his feet living, as he is, in the shadow of his famous dad. He has carved out a niche of his own.
After graduating from Trinity International University with a B.A. in History and Economics, he began his acting career. This led him to the U.S., where he trained in theater, performed on stage and became a member of the prestigious Atlantic Theater Company in New York City.
Hollywood soon beckoned and Butler started to amass an impressive list of TV appearances including appearances on “Boston Legal”, “Everyday People” and “Ugly Betty”. He is also a Barack Obama impersonator and he has performed his routine on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and at major events.
Butler has fond memories about beginning his career in show business and performing with his father.
“He (Butler, Sr.) would take me on stage and I would perform with him. He would let me pick songs that I wanted to sing. I was only 11 years old but that’s how I got my start performing.”
Butler has perfected various modes in his acting range, from drama to comedy. Does his role as Oscar on True Jackson VP cause him to make major adjustments to his acting style?
“Absolutely. It’s funny because all of my friends know me as a comedian and a clown in real life. But when I first got out here (Hollywood), all of the roles that I booked were very serious. I used to have a real day job as a business person and wore a business suit so I know how to do that well. So I got hired for that part of my personality.”
Then he describes his character. “Oscar is great. He’s the flip side of everything. At one part he is very pulled up and tight like a business person, but then he’s got this incredible flamboyance and over-the-topness that people associate with the fashion industry.”
The part of Oscar, he adds, allows him to be “big, brash, bold and (to) let it all fly”.
The family feeling on the set of True Jackson VP is seriously genuine because the producers create a relaxed, fun but business atmosphere and that feeling trickles down to the cast and crew, he says.
“We get to be impulsive. We’re very lucky because our producers and writers really encourage us to bring all of our ideas to each script. They want us to be improvisational and let stuff happen because it brings the characters and the writing to life. That’s the joy of comedy and I’m having the time of my life.”