ROCKING THE PARTY
A Chat with Actor and DJ TONY OKUNGBOWA
By Jonathan Metzelaar
Dancing is a way of letting loose, of shaking off self-consciousness and having a good time. It’s also a way of bonding. When you dance with others, with friends or with strangers on a dance floor, you feel more connected to them in some way. To dance with others is to share something with them.
Perhaps this is why music and dancing are incorporated into The Ellen DeGeneres Show so extensively. Ellen dances, the audience dances. Even the celebrity guests dance every now and then. It creates a sense of connection and familiarity among everybody there, which the viewers can sense even while watching it at home. It is what lays the foundation for the fun environment the show is known for.
Tony Okungbowa, resident DJ for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, is the man responsible for laying that foundation. His knack for choosing music that makes people want to move makes him an invaluable asset to the show, and it makes his solo DJ sets incredible to be a part of as well.
Jonathan Metzelaar: How did you get started? When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
Tony Okungbowa: I became a DJ for a couple of opposing reasons. The first reason was my passion and love for music, and the second reason was my lack of patience. I was learning to play bass guitar, but I was too impatient to learn the scales, so a friend showed me how to DJ and I was hooked.
JM: Who are some of your influences or people you admire in the industry?
TO: DJs that I admire include my brother, Leslie Love, Jojo Flores, Russell Peters, Masters At Work, King Britt, and Dimitri From Paris, to name a few.
JM: How did you initially get involved with Ellen DeGeneres?
TO: I met Ellen while DJing at a photo shoot. We hit it off when she told me a joke, and the rest is history.
JM: What are some of your goals as a DJ?
TO: Simply put, to rock the party.
JM: How do you approach a set as a DJ? Do you have a bunch of tracks picked out that you plan to use ahead of time, or do you adapt your song choices to the crowd and the mood?
TO: Doing a set takes a bit of planning out, but it’s also important to stay flexible and serve the crowd. You should always be prepared to adapt in case you read the crowd wrong.
JM: You’re also an actor, and have had roles in some pretty reputable television shows, including NYPD Blue and The X-Files. Which are you more passionate about, your acting or your music, and why?
TO: I am passionate about both. I feel they feed each other. When I work on a character, I try to see the music he would listen to, and when I am DJing, I try to play the role of a conductor of sorts.
JM: What advice could you give to aspiring DJs and/or actors?
TO: The best advice I can give to a young actor is to learn your craft so you can be well-rounded. To the aspiring DJs, be yourself, be an individual. Everyone has access to Top 40 music and other stuff nowadays. The only way you can stand out is by being the one thing you have control over, yourself.
JM: Do you have any projects coming up you’d like people to know about?
TO: We have a movie coming out this year called Ma George. There is also a DJ app in the works, as well as a TV project in development.
Tony Okungbowa is an actor and a DJ. His acting roles include appearances on NYPD Blue, The X-Files, and Law and Order. He is also resident DJ on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Tony’s new CD, A Night To Remember, which he collaborated with DJ Jojo Flores on, was just launched by Unidisc Music Inc. It can be found in music stores and at Amazon, Itunes, and The Ellen Shop.
Tony Okungbowa interviewed by Jonathan Metzelaar
Written and Edited by Jonathan Metzelaar
Photography by Tom Grizzle & Andrew Toth for PatrickMcMullan.com
Design by Marie Havens
Dj Tony Okungbowa, Sunglass Hut Miami Swim Shows, The Raleigh Hotel, Miami Beach, July 19, 2005, Photography by Tom Grizzle for PatrickMcMullan.com
Mick Rock, Lisa Raden, & Tony Okungbowa, “A Night To Remember” Launch party for Tony Okungbowa & Jojo Flores hosted by Unidisc, The Club Room, Soho Grand Hotel, NYC, June 19, 2012, Photography by Andrew Toth for PatrickMcMullan.com
Jojo Flores & Tony Okungbowa, “A Night To Remember” Launch party for Tony Okungbowa & Jojo Flores hosted by Unidisc, The Club Room, Soho Grand Hotel, NYC, June 19, 2012, Photography by Andrew Toth for PatrickMcMullan.com
TV Screenshot Grid, Special Thanks to The Ellen DeGeneres Show & YouTube