Name: Othell J. Miller
One Word That Describes You: Innovative
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
The most immediate way that I impact is by serving as a secondary school teacher. Being in an inner-city high school on a daily basis gives me a unique opportunity to interact with and impact the lives of young men of color. I routinely engage them in conversation, offer sound counsel, model balanced masculinity, and join them in activities like pick-up games of basketball.
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
As a theater artist and arts educator, I’m a storyteller at heart. I am acutely aware of the power of stories. Therefore, seeing men of color represented in media in a just, accurate, three-dimensional manner is of utmost importance to me. So to be part of an initiative that identifies, celebrates, and inspires men of color is a distinct honor and a great encouragement.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
I devote a considerable part of my life to empowering men of color, instructing and mentoring young black and Hispanic male students at Plainfield Academy for the Arts & Advanced Studies in Plainfield, New Jersey, leading the men’s ministry at my local church (Abundant Life Family Worship Church in New Brunswick), and I was recently approved to serve as a volunteer at a corrections facility. I will be offering inmates public speaking instruction and actor training over the course of the summer.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
When I stand before my colleagues to give a presentation, lead my students through a lesson, record a professional voice over, or deliver a commanding performance, it is believed by most that I have always possessed a distinctive voice and great diction. Nothing can be further from the truth. Superb enunciation did not come natural for me. While pursuing my MFA in acting, I struggled mightily to agilely and consistently produce all the vowel and consonant sounds of spoken English while watching many classmates form them with ease. It was very frustrating and discouraging at times. As a theater artist, your voice and speech is your money. However, I maintained an inner resolve that I would eventually master phonetics and display great speech. By the time I completed the program, my voice and speech were among my greatest assets. Now, private clients pay me to train them to acquire broadcast standard speech, overcome speech anxiety, and eliminate regionalisms. Now, companies pay me to record voice overs. An area of struggle became an area of profit.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
The most important quality I look for in relationships with others is humility. My closest relationships are with people who possess this trait. I have observed that humble people are more self-aware, honest, considerate, and collaborative than arrogant or know-it-all people.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I am currently working on developing an innovative and challenging theater arts curriculum for the 2017-2018 school year that will aid students in discovering and owning their unique voices. Each year I seek to enhance the way in which I impart theatrical knowledge and deliver theatrical training. In addition, I’m currently developing two public speaking workshops, to be conducted over the summer, for working professionals. These workshops will aid adults with speech anxiety, accent reduction, speech prep, and speech writing.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Don’t keep your product or service in the lab forever trying to make it perfect. Put it out and let the market offer feedback on how to refine it.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Use whatever you currently have. Don’t delay your engagement in the lives of others waiting on more money, additional resources, status, a bigger platform, etc. If you can breathe, than you are ready to make a difference. Start using your words and small deeds to empower and uplift others.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I first ensure I have a thorough understanding of the purpose of the meeting/event and the particular role I am expected to play to guarantee the meeting’s success. Then I research as well as hone existing knowledge in order for me to effectively and concisely convey my thoughts, ideas, and perspectives during the meeting or event.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation?
I unwind on vacation by divorcing myself from our culture’s obsession with busyness. I have learned that in order to be truly productive, I must embrace times of rest and relaxation—to not feel at all guilty for sitting back, putting my feet up, and rejuvenating. So I often vacation where I can be surrounded by sun, relax on the beach, listen to good music, and enjoy good food. My best vacation to date happened last year as I traveled to La Romana, Dominican Republic. The beach in La Romana was ideal for a beach bum. Wonderfully clear, warm, and inviting water (just the right height, speed, and amount of waves) kept me relaxed and upbeat. Coupled with the scenery was the fact that I was fortunate to travel with drama-free, easy-going people who were equally invested in relaxing. I’m heading to Cancun this August. Hopefully, it will top my experience in the DR.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
At this time, I would have to say Jamaica. I have heard a great deal about the country, having many friends and students who are Jamaican. However, I have never been so I would like to experience it firsthand.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I would just like to say I am thankful for this initiative that is providing a space for men of color to converse with, challenge, enlighten, and encourage one another.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @BEModernMan and join the conversation using #BEModernMan.
Come celebrate the BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction at the first-ever Black Men XCEL Summit, Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.