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The In-Carnay-tion of the Ultimate Multi-Tasker
Creativity and foresight catapulted Oliver Carnay to the unparagoned stature possessed by no other Filipino-American in the cutthroat world of mainstream entertainment print journalism, public relations, talent managing, and event coordination.
Talent gained him entrance into showbizness but it was strategic planning that kept him there.
“My thinking is always advanced,” the entertainment writer/publicist pronounces without a shred of false modesty.
It was this “advanced thinking” that sealed his longevity in the industry. A pioneering Fil-Am member of the National Press Photography Association, the Press Photography Association of Greater Los Angeles, and an active participant in the Motion Picture of Association of America, Oliver has paved the way for more Asian and Filipino-Americans to develop a more up-close relationship with mainstream Hollywood.
You should hear him speak about his overarching quest. It’s refreshing to know not everyone who wants to penetrate the Hollywood elite circle is after just the glamour and glitz of Hollywood itself. For sure, Oliver wants to help bring more opportunities for Filipinos in mainstream entertainment. But more than this, his aim is to bring Hollywood to the Filipino-American community.
He helps foster this integration by featuring Hollywood breakout stars (with Filipino pedigree) to the Fil-Am community through his entertainment columns and articles. Over the years, he has helped introduce to the Fil-Am crowd rising stars such as Lalaine (Lizzie Maguire), Cheryl Burke (Dancing with the Stars), Michael Copon (One Tree Hill, VH1’s But Can They Sing?), Honey Labrador (Queer Eye for the Straight Girl), Paolo Montalban (Cinderella, Mortal Kombat), MiG Ayesa (Rockstar: INXS), Apl.de.ap (Black Eyed Peas), Billy Crawford (Pokemon, Dominion) and Cris Judd, just to name a few.
How Oliver landed a reckoned place in entertainment publishing wasn’t always a deliberate plan. But he believes it was part of his calling; his purpose. Back in1998, while attending the OUTFEST Film Festival, Oliver struck a conversation with Ms. Ana Lee Paolo of mPRm (now Exec. VP at 42West -Editor). Ms. Paolo insightfully pointed out the lack of Filipino press representation in film festival coverage. Oliver instantly stepped up to correct this oversight by volunteering to represent Filipino Americans and Asians in the press pool of film festival reporters and photographers. Call it being at the right place at the right time. Soon after, Oliver started to get invited to many events, including film festivals, movie premieres, and special events such as the Oscars, Grammys, among other important events in Hollywood. Subsequently, he started to build his network of entertainment industry connections.
With nominal effort, Oliver gained the coveted all-access pass to the press line but capturing readership for the Hollywood events he covered was a bit more challenging.
Oliver experienced the pains of convincing an entire Fil-Am generation to read entertainment news that was relatively foreign from what they were used to.
“Back then, some Filipinos would ask me, ‘Why would we want to read Hollywood news off a Filipino newspaper when there are magazines like People or Star for that?’’
But Oliver was never swayed by this limited thinking. Because he had a foresight that in their own sweet time, Filipinos would develop a taste for Hollywood news; that they would come to not just tolerate it but crave it like an irrational addiction.
True to his prediction, Filipinos are now among the World’s most curious population when it comes to Hollywood news and gossip.
And by Oliver’s example, other Filipino entertainment reporters followed suit.
“I never let the negativity get in the way of something that I was set out to do. Otherwise, where would I be now if I let every little criticism discourage me?”
Earning the recognition and respect was certainly a long, topsy-turvy journey for Oliver.
It was no overnight feat but Fil-Am communities in the US as well as avid readers in the Philippines have come to enjoy Oliver’s tidbits about these up-and-coming stars, marveling at the fact their triumphs speak very highly of the Filipino as a world-class talent.
Oliver’s career in publishing has been the most enduring among his peers. Fil-Am entertainment reporters in the U.S. have come and gone. Oliver has only gotten stronger, with a credibility that reverberates across Fil-Am communities. He is the only one among his colleagues to simultaneously maintain seven columns in various publications.
Oliver’s approach to entertainment coverage has always been the same throughout the years: simple, unpretentious and direct to the point.
He himself admits, he’s never one to use highfalutin words in writing his stories. He believes that he is widely read because he keeps it basic, factual and fascinating.
Although he’s earned the bragging rights to do so, you will rarely hear Oliver speak of his encounters with Hollywood’s biggest A-listers. Believe it or not, this is not the highlight of the time he spends on the press line.
“I take more pride in meeting the up-and-coming talents. Those that I see potential in. There is innocence about them. You can see it in their eyes. They are hopeful and full of dreams. It’s very inspiring,” says Oliver.
Oliver takes pleasure out of meeting the talents at their rawest form, and helping them blossom into superstars. Some of his early discoveries include actors such Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas), Charlie Hunnam, George Stultz, Randy Wayne (Sons & Daughters), pop star Billy Crawford, Cam Gigandet (The OC), and MTV VJ Nick Zano, among others.
“I knew them when they were struggling actors/artists. I have a relationship with them built on the spirit of encouragement and support. I believed in them from the start. And look at them now…,” Oliver beams with a sense of pride tantamount to that of a father of an accomplished son.
Oliver’s professional career encompasses two continents over two decades. Prior to 1984, Oliver was supervising manager with the company Zuellig Pharma in Manila, Philippines. After meeting Philippine matinee idol/actress/singer Sheryl Cruz in 1992, Oliver decided to pursue his passion in entertainment as road manager and booking agent to Ms. Cruz and later on, other hot, young stars of that time.
The career switch sent him to and fro the U.S. and the Philippines for engagements, slowly building his network in the entertainment industry. While being one of Ms. Cruz’s handlers, Oliver landed a writing job for the now defunct L.A. Monitor newspaper.
When Ms. Cruz took a showbiz hiatus after 1995, Oliver found other talents to handle such as Ruffa Gutierrez to whom he served as booking agent and show producer.
During his years as talent manager, he produced many shows of which he was also director, scriptwriter, and talent.
Simultaneously with talent management, Oliver maintained his link to the literary world as columnist in regional U.S.-based and global publications. His byline has appeared in Jingle Extra Magazine, Celebrity Chronicle, Diyaryo Pilipino, Lifestyles Magazine, Pilipino Reporter, Asian-American People’s Journal, Asian Journal, and Balita Media Inc. He has also written for Buzzine Magazine, Audrey Magazine, S Magazine (circulated in Manila, all over United States and other parts of the world), Para Todos Magazine, Pinoy Gazette (published in Hong Kong, Japan, and its vicinities), Philippine Observer (Europe), Philippines Today newspaper and FAME Magazine (both based in San Diego, CA), and Planet Philippines (based in New York).
Through his columns and photo coverage, Oliver has spread awareness of trends and milestones of Fil-Am talents, whether they are making waves in the regional front or the world stage.
Besides print publishing, Oliver has also conquered another frontier: the World Wide Web. He helped establish the widely popular Fil-Am entertainment website, Carousel Pinoy Entertainment (www.carouselpinoy.com), of which he is also one of the moderators. The site attracts as many as 80,000 visitors per week.
His online photo gallery www.picturetrail.com/
It takes passion to be in Oliver’s position. And that fervent passion he certainly has. Since high school, Oliver had already developed an interest in film, theater and the performing arts. He dabbled in acting and even tutoring fellow thespians. He was also known for his impersonations of famous performers like the Jackson 5. His fascination with performing landed him leads in several local plays. This was only the beginning of Oliver’s exhaustive training in entertainment/show business.
“It was fate,” he believes.
Fast forward to 2006, Oliver’s fascination is now a flourishing career in public relations, event/concert production, and print journalism. At one point, he even had a successful travel company, International Artists Tours and Travel, which he had to give up some time ago.
Oliver is unabashed to proclaim that whatever he sets his mind to, he accomplishes. “I won’t accept a job if I am not confident enough to do it. It’s all just a matter of time management.”
Nowadays, Oliver is upbeat full-tilt on the public relations and marketing firm that he started in 1995, the International Artists PR. He feels that now more than ever, a lot of aspirants either in entertainment or in business will find his professional services very useful. (See updated Oliver’s activities below)
“I’m here to help,” Oliver says.
His clients can attest to his unwavering integrity and professionalism. Oliver’s former and present clients include Gandi Villareal (Gandi Skin Care), the Reflections Fil-Am Awards, the Uliran Awards, Pro Derm, and couturier David Tupaz, Perlas ng Silangan Club & Restaurant in Woodside, NY, and Belo Medical Group, Donita Ganzon, The Bold & The Beautiful 6-time Emmy winner couture designer Angelo Santos, among others.
Ultimately, Oliver believes it’s not in riches or material wealth that success is measured. “Success to me is leaving something good behind for posterity. Your legacy. How many people you helped. People, like our talented Fil-Am artists have dreams to make it to the top of their field. It is my dream to help them get there.”
A big part of Oliver’s future is pursuing more humanitarian work and community building efforts. He hopes to establish PEPA USA, Inc. or the Philippine Entertainment Producers Association, U.S.A., Inc., a nonprofit organization designed to unite all Fil-Am producers into the common goal of raising ethical standards of how producers operate and do business.
Through PEPA, Oliver plans to hold fundraisers and charity auctions that will benefit unfortunate populations in the Philippines.
At the same time, with the strength of PEPA, USA, Oliver foresees a firmer voice for Fil-Am talents in mainstream Hollywood.
(written by Marian Maraya, 2006)
(Editor’s updated note .. fast forward to 2021: Oliver went back into concentrating as a part-time Talent Manager in 2007 after laying low in the PR business. In 2007, he also joined and became a member of the Talent Managers Association – TMA www.talentmanagers.org but resigned after 10 years due to a conflict with then current President and VP. In 2012, after having invested working at two U.S. government agencies for years, he went into retirement and went into working as a full-time Talent Manager in his own company ‘International Artists PR & Talent Management’ www.iatalent.com. Today, he enjoys life working at his own pace (watching movies at least 15 times a week) and pitching and submitting his actors on a daily basis, at the same time maintaining his columns at hollywoodflip.com. He is still multi-tasking.)