Phillip in his own words... (from childhood to Broadway)
My mother is originally from Germany. My dad, a soldier from North Carolina, happened to be stationed in my mom's hometown (Kassel, Germany) and he was also the first black man she'd ever met. They fell in love, and got married in 1959, before it was legal for interracial couples to wed in some American states. I was born twenty-five years into my parents' marriage. (So needless to say I was a pleasant surprise!) I grew up in a family of artists. My brother was a child actor who was in the Mickey Mouse Club in the 70's, and my sister is a self-taught musician. Although I was born two decades after them, my parents suspected that I too was "bitten by the bug" from birth, so they put me in dance classes when I was three years old to see how I would respond. Not only did I love dancing, but I soon took on acting and singing. After graduating from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (with a few childhood film/tv credits under my belt), I knew that working in the entertainment industry would be a lifelong pursuit. And I have been blessed to have had a rather colorful career so far: from dancing and singing on Broadway, to acting in film/tv, and even competing on the reality TV show, So You Think You Can Dance.
In September of this year, I'll be moving back to New York City to work in my third Broadway show! It's called After Midnight. It will star Dule Hill (of Psych and The West Wing) and Fantasia (of American Idol). It is a Broadway Musical that will feature classic jazz standards that capture the essence of Harlem's "Cotton Club" era. Wynton Marsalis will be the artistic director, and the cast will consist of twenty-five vocalists/dancers and seventeen hand-picked musicians by Jazz at Lincoln Center. I will be featured as a song and dance man. Needless to say, I am excited!
When I consider my family background (i.e. having a German-born mother, a soon-to-be wife who is from England) and when I consider creativity and the arts and entertainment industry (my passion and "bread and butter"), I would say, literally, that "adventure" has been written in my DNA. Most of my reasons for travel have been tied to work and/or family, and these two aspects of my life have taken me all around the world (to five of the seven continents). My "top five" favorite cities that I have either visited or lived in (other than my two homes Los Angeles and New York City) are: Cape Town, South Africa; Moscow, Russia; Paris, France; Edinburgh, Scotland; and Sydney, Australia.
PA: I currently live in my hometown Pasadena, CA (a city within Los Angeles County). I am totally biased, but I would say that Pasadena is the best city in Los Angeles County! It is clean, safe, rich in arts and culture, and it is commonly discovered as a "hidden treasure" by many who visit Los Angeles for the first time. Los Angeles is huge, but if I could narrow it down to three options of places to eat, shop, and visit, I would recommend Manhattan Beach, Old Town Pasadena, and Disneyland! (For those of you who rolled your eyes at the last option, "Don't hate on Mickey!")
M&MH: If you can narrow it down to one, what is your favorite city/town you've visited during your travels?
PA: My favorite city that I have visited, and also lived in, is Edinburgh, Scotland. This place is absolutely magical if you like castles, hillwalking and hiking, nightlife, and arts appreciation and preservation. It has it all! I would recommend going during August while the world famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival is on. It is the largest theater arts festival in the world with over 3,000 shows and exhibitions to choose from. Projects like "Flight of the Concords" started at this festival. Not to mention, the city is beautiful! I call this place a home when I am in the UK!
M&MH: Favorite hotel? Why?
PA: At the risk of sounding strange, I don't believe in hotels! I have found that the best way to learn the essence of a city is through the eyes of a local. I have become very good at making friends in foreign places with wonderful people, and if I trust them, or if we have had the privilege of building a friendship history, I would much rather stay with them. I do like a fancy hotel every once in a while, but if you like adventure, shacking up with the locals is where it's at!
M&MH: Top three restaurants?
PA: My top three restaurants are: Uncle Bill's Pancake House (Manhattan Beach, CA); Moyo (Johannesburg, SA); The Delta Grill (a New Orleans style restaurant in New York City).
M&MH: Most memorable travel experience?
PA: I took a trip to Krugar National Park in South Africa once. Between jeep safari's, wild animals raiding our campsite, and fireside stories of survivors of animal attacks, it was an exciting time. We went on a night safari on the eve of returning to Johannesburg. We stopped the jeep in the middle of the wild South African bush, turned the engine and lights off, and sat in the pitch black of night listening to the sound of animals calling. Then we threw our heads back in silence for about ten minutes, and gazed at the stars, an entirely different set of bright and shining constellations. This is my most memorable travel experience, and probably one of the most magical moments of my life.
M&MH: Thanks Phillip! We love the way you drink in every drop of life -- it's so refreshing and inspiring. And, we agree with you, "adventure" is written in your DNA. Now we just need to plan our own adventure to NYC so we can see you on Broadway!!