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MTV VJ and Model – Greg Uttsada “Utt” Panichkul
Greg Uttsada Panichkul, also known as VJ Utt, born on September 03, 1974, is an MTV VJ, model, host and actor.
Before he became the wacky but lovable video jockey in MTV Asia’s Bangkok Jam, Most Wanted, and MTV Screen, VJ Utt (pronounced “AHT”) was an exile.
Greg Uttsada Panichkul was a wild kid growing up in San Fernando, California where he was born to an American mother and a Thai father. A monk once took one look at the rowdy 17-year-old Thai-American and said the boy had “bad luck” written all over him. Hoping to change her son’s luck and his attitude, mom sent Utt to Thailand to live with grandma and to imbibe the local culture and mores. “Because I was a very naughty boy, my parents kind of left me in Thailand with absolutely no money,” he says. “So I took a modelling job to earn a plane ticket back to the States.”
Utt earned more than just plane fare. He put his burgeoning modelling and acting career on hold for two years to earn a Communications Arts degree from Thailand’s Assumption University. Then, he stuck it out in the land of his forefathers for the next eight years.
What Utt really wanted was to be a VJ. In the pre-MTV era, there was a 24-hour music channel in Thailand called Smile TV. “I saw how some of the VJs were bilingual and I knew it was something I wanted to do,” says Utt. He went to the show’s office, did a screen test, and was promptly hired. For the next three years, Utt displayed his veejaying prowess at Smile TV and even spun off two shows, one of which he co-hosted with younger brother, Jerry.
Enter MTV. “I auditioned at MTV the old-fashioned way (he sent a tape) like any other VJ wannabe,” Utt explains. An audition for Bangkok Jam was held at Bangkok’s Hard Rock Café. At that time, MTV was looking for a Chinese-speaking female VJ so Utt had to cool his heels waiting for his turn to show his stuff. He was the last applicant on the audition line that day. “I gave them all I had!” says Utt. Two nerve-wracking weeks dragged on before Utt received a call informing him that he qualified for the second round of auditions in Singapore, followed by another two weeks of hellish suspense waiting for the final verdict. He, of course, got the part.
While he enjoys being a VJ, Utt also loves acting. “Acting allows me to show my serious side,” he says. He is cast as an HIV-positive commercial sex worker in the critically acclaimed Thai drama series, Song Klam Doag Rak. The series received an award during World AIDS Day last year for its realistic portrayal of the AIDS problem facing Thailand and its inspiring message of hope.
Utt, a spokesperson for Thailand’s AIDS Awareness and Blood Donation Drive, is excited about his role. “MTV viewers, many of whom are teenagers, can really learn a lot from the drama, especially about the social issues involved in HIV/AIDS.” For his performance in Song Klam, Utt was nominated Best Actor by the Thailand Television Awards.