the hard concrete and all-too-common off-blue
skies, Nagoya’s artistic heart is beating
vibrantly. Chances are that if you have felt
the city’s artistic pulse, you have
come across Oliver Millingham, one of Nagoya’s
favorite ex-pat sons.
affectionately as ‘Olli’, this
Worcestershire native has spent his last
25 years pursuing his dream of becoming
an actor. Since the age of five, when his
parents took him to the local theatre performances,
Olli has spent much of his time as a performer
(on and off the stage).
if there are any other thespians in his
family, Olli responded, “Well, just
me but I suppose mum and dad have been acting
as parents since I was born.”
informed that he was ‘on the record’,
Olli added, “…acting as beautiful,
where is this passion for acting going to
any actor will tell you, it isn’t easy
getting a break. However, Olli has taken the
initiative and created his own ‘break’.
At the end of this month, he will be leaving
his friends in Japan to join the elite Bristol
Old Vic Theatre School. It was only just recently
that Olli learned of his acceptance to this
prestigious academy- quite an accomplishment
when considering that only 12 of 3000 applicants
asked how he felt about his achievement, Olli
shared, “I was elated. Actually, last
year I applied, and made it to the short list
but didn’t make the final cut. I think
there are a few good reasons for why I made
it this year. First off, I really knew what
the selection panel was looking for. I worked
extremely hard on carefully selected pieces
for my audition and took vocal lessons with
a singing coach. Compared to last year, I
knew I had a better chance this time around.
However, in the end I was still overjoyed
and even a little humbled. After all, there
were a lot of talented people trying to embark
on the same journey as myself, but I ended
up getting in.”
someone strives so hard for a particular goal,
the question “why?” begs to be
acting?,” asks Olli, rhetorically. Well,
acting is one of the very few things I look
forward to doing every single time. I mean,
with sport I had a few days where I couldn’t
be bothered. With my jobs, there were more
than a few of those days. However, with acting,
I always get excited. Another main reason
is that actors have the ability to give something
special to their audiences. It can happen
at the time of the actual performance, but
if an audience member goes home and thinks
about what they have seen and feels how it
affects or relates to their life, it really
highlights the significance of what it means
to be an actor.”
have had the opportunity to work in many capacities
since leaving University. No small part of
my experience has come from living in Japan.
Every job I have had here has led me down
a road that has contributed to my growth as
a person. I really have loved my time doing
so many different things here in Japan. With
my last full time position in a Japanese company
I reached a point where I could touch the
ceiling. I wasn’t the head of the company
or anything and I knew I never could be. At
that point I started thinking carefully about
my future and at one time even considered
opening a bar in Japan. In the end though,
my thoughts brought me back to the one thing
I have always been passionate about- acting.
Although never truly letting go of the idea
of being an actor, the series of jobs I had
didn’t really allow my skills and energy
as a performer to be fully expressed. However,
these jobs did force the realization that
acting is my true passion and served to solidify
my commitment to pursuing it as a career.”
I asked, “what would you be if you weren’t…”
letting me finish Olli interrupted with, “Acting
is not starting his career inexperienced by
any means. He has been acting since his high
school days. During University he was a part
of sixteen stage shows and after graduating,
performed at the Edinborough Fringe Festival.
Since then he has put on several shows for
charities, including Habitat for Humanity,
and has been an integral part of the local
community theatre troupe, Nagoya Players,
performing in six shows and even directing
the troupe’s last show, What the Butler
such a variety of experience, I was dying
to hear about his most memorable performance.
After some serious pondering, Olli offered,
“I think Lend me a Tenor was the most
memorable. There are a couple of reasons.
First, I was welcomed into the Nagoya Players
by being cast in the lead role of that show.
That was a real honour. It was also a brilliantly
executed performance to which audiences responded
course, I also had to ask about his least
ME!?” gasped Olli, incredulously.
recovering and reassuring me he was joking,
Olli continued. “I played a miniscule
role in Julius Caesar where I was cast as
Lucius, a character who sings and plays the
lute to help restless Caesar fall asleep.
What was hilarious about the whole show was
that we had to perform the entire thing in
tunics…and only tunics. As Caesar and
I fell asleep, I ended up giving the first
three rows of the audience a glimpse of my
While that may have been least memorable for
Olli, ETJ suspects it may have taken more
than a while for the first three rows to remove
that etched-in image from their memories.
where should we expect to see Oliver Millingham
in the near future?
generally, I will be extremely happy to get
paid to act. If it takes me to the London
stage or to Hollywood, so be it. I’d
be thrilled either way. To be honest though,
I would like to start in theatre and then
maybe progress to movies, T.V. or even radio.”
wanted to know who Olli would want to co-star
with, be it on stage or on the silver screen.
wasted no time in answering, “Sir Anthony
Hopkins. I have great respect for that man’s
talent and the emotional investment he makes
in each of his roles. His rendition of Titus
was especially good!”
are some of the words Olli lives by?
if you were to sum me up in a nutshell, you
would need not look any further than Rudyard
Kippling’s poem, If’. There are
a few quotes I live by. First off, ‘keep
it true’. Next, ‘do unto others
as you would like them to do unto you.’
Finally, ‘there are no strangers- only
friends we haven’t met yet.’
if those are some of the expressions Olli
rates as valuable, what is one expression
the English language could do without?
those of you out there interested in pursuing
a career in acting, Olli has some advice.
what I have gleaned from my limited experience,
I can say acting is really a choice that requires
you be true to yourself. If you can really
understand yourself as an actor and as a person,
you are on the right track…Oh and you
have to work bloody hard at it!”
an era has come to an end for one talented
ex-pat in Nagoya. However, a new chapter is
soon to begin- one which will see Olie make
his way back to his native England. From there,
who knows?- perhaps to a stage, screen or
even some airwaves near you.
all you have given to this great city, we
wish you all the best, Olli.
All of us in Nagoya will surely miss you.