Friday, 27 March 2015

MAN OF THE MOMENT: Is actor Glen Campbell having the best Easter ever?

HEAD OF THE CLASS: Campbell (centre), with costars, in Saving Alligator High

For Glen Campbell, starring in the vibrant TV ads for Maxfield Easter Bun that always come on this time of year brings him the kind of attention usually reserved for spotlight regulars, meaning things get really weird sometimes, but in an amazing way. "Some people think that because I'm in the commercial I work at [Maxfield] and always have bun to give away. So everywhere I go no, people are asking me for Easter bun," Campbell recalls, laughing. They even show up at his house, he adds, asking his mom for the bun Glen left for them. Like I said, weird. 

While starring in Patrick Brown's now-classic comedy series Titus, Campbell and his co-star Rosie Murray were approached by marketing personnel from Maxfield to appear in the TV ad they were working on. Of course they said yes. 25 years later, Campbell is still tight with the Maxfield fam. "It's a family business, so the mother has now passed on the responsibilities to the son, who has seen it fit to continue the association with Skatta, the character that I play." 

In 2015, Glen Campbell has more or less becomes the face of finger-lickin Easter, given his association with not just Maxfield Bakery but the immensely popular Tastee Cheese as well. And it's purely by coincidence - and a stroke of good fortune on Campbell's part. Much deserved, too, when one considers the actor's high-wattage theatre and TV career that spans decades and has arguably made him the quintessential Jamaican leading man of his generation. 

"The best part for me is the visibility because as actors we do need it," Campbell explains. "As you know the industry is very fickle and there are actors who have spent years and years performing on stage and then they are just forgotten. So it feels good to be recognized and to get this kind of support." 

And speaking of acknowledgement, the much-laurelled comedy veteran could be adding more shiny hardware to his collection later this month when he vies for Best Actor at the March 30 Actor Boy Awards. "My thing is that once you're nominated it says something about the level of work that you're doing; your peers figure your work is of such a standard that it warrants recognition," reflects the star, who is nominated for his memorable turn in Saving Alligator High and is up for a Thespy for Funnny Kind 'A Love. "But the work is what drives me and keeps me motivated. We have a thing here where every night before we go on stage we remind ourselves that we were born to do this." 

As he tells it, the high point of Alligator High this season has to do with the rare chance to slip into the guise of one of the most challenging yet rewarding professions ever - the role of a schoolteacher. "I have given workshops, done seminars and given talks at different schools, and I take my hat off to teachers. They are made of a different mettle than the average human being. Mi nuh have that at all. Teaching takes a lot," Campbell, who turned 50 last year, admits. 

But that doesn't mean he didn't knock himself out researching the role of cricket-loving maths prof Jeff Jones - and turning it out on stage every night for the audience. "The preparation was very eye-opening as to what Jamaican teachers are faced with, particularly the tools they need to get the job done and the lack thereof," Campbell observes. "So I think the play, and Patrick's writing, very cleverly highlights the plight of students and teachers and how we can improve the education system on a whole."

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