Beyonce. Madonna. Bono. Oprah. Few are the celebrities with enough juice to light-up a marquee on the strength of one name alone. We’re adding to that lofty list today with a name you’ve probably never heard before: Oraniz.
Okay, so there isn’t a table at Spago’s reserved for him quite yet, but we think you’ll be hearing a lot from this budding star from Martinique very soon.
Born Jean-Felix Robert Nivor, Oraniz spent his early childhood living in the small town of Vert-Pre, located just inland of the seaside village of Le Robert. At age 9 he moved to Lyon, where after a few short years he started to attract the attention of several prominent modeling agencies. It wasn’t long before he was strutting the catwalk for such notable designers as Jean Paul Gaultier and Yves St. Laurent, while also appearing in ads for L’Oréal.
After living in Paris for a few years, Oraniz relocated to New York to try his hand at acting. This career change now sees him living in Los Angeles, where we caught up with him recently.
When was the last time you visited Martinique?
Four years ago, 2006. It’s been way too long. My friends and family are still there and we keep in touch, but I need to get back home soon.
How do you keep the spirit of Martinique alive all the way out here in L.A.?
Outside of one small restaurant near the Beverly Center (Kasava), there really is nothing Martinique in L.A. The 1 thing I have is music. Classic zouk from the 80’s is the best. Artists like Pascal Vallot, Gilles Floro and Jean-Philippe Marthely. The zouk in the 80’s was more soulful. It had more meaning than what gets produced now. The new zouk is too commercial for me.
Any recommendations for 1st-time visitors to Martinique?
Definitely go to the north, to Mt. Pelee and St. Pierre, to know the history of what happened there. The historic eruption (in 1902) and the re-birth of the town; it’s an amazing story, well-preserved like Pompeii in Italy.
What’s next for your career?
Just to keep working at acting and trying to land a role in a great production. My dream would be a drama with a legend like Brian De Palma or Martin Scorsese. I’ve had many auditions in the past couple weeks, so hopefully we’ll have some news soon.
The mountain-top villa love scenes in The Thomas Crown Affair were filmed in Martinique. So were scenes in Jonathan Demme’s The Truth About Charlie. Hmmm, maybe Oraniz can have his cake (a role in a drama) and eat it too (a return to Martinique).
If Scorsese needs a connection in Martinique, Oraniz is certainly his man!