Maybe you first saw him in 2002’s 8 Mile or 2008’s Miracle at St. Anna. Or, you might have seen him during his three-year stint on CSI: Miami. Currently, you can watch him on HBO’s hit Ballers or hear him as the voice of Raphael on Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Regardless, it’s safe to say that Omar Benson Miller has had a prolific acting career, appearing in an assortment of movies and television shows, not limited by genre or character.
“It would be dumb for me to not have my home theater game up.” – Omar Benson Miller
Miller is not content with just acting, however. In between shooting episodes of Ballers and Ninja Turtles, he records a sports podcast called The O-Zone with his brother. He also has been involved with a number of philanthropic organizations, helping raise money for disenfranchised children and gathering food for the homeless.
And, like a lot of stars in the modern age, Miller is all-in on smart home tech. From his home entertainment system to smart kitchen appliances, he is as big of a tech fanatic as can be. In this exclusive interview, Miller discusses the technology that goes into his podcasting, the devices he has around the house, and what gear he sees in his future.
Residential Tech Today: I would love to start out talking about your podcast, The O-Zone. I checked it out, and you guys just sound like you’re having fun.
Omar Benson Miller: We are, because that’s my actual brother. This is my older brother and we argue a lot in real life, and we decided, “You know what? Why don’t we actually make something out of this.” Whenever people are around us, and we get to arguing sports, it was always entertaining for them, so we decided to give it a shot.
And so far it’s caught on well. People seem to really like our perspective on things, and we actually have a lot of professional athletes who follow the podcast. The only problem we have with the podcast is, we just haven’t been doing it as frequently as we should because we’ve been on the road doing our tennis travel show [Advantage Omar] and shooting Ballers. And now I’m doing Ninja Turtles. It’s been a blessed year, man. I’m really living well.
RT Today: What kind of setup do you have for your podcast?
Omar Benson Miller: We started with the Zoom machine and that was just he and I, no mics. It was just the actual Zoom. And that Zoom took it a long way. Then we got a professional engineer, so now we have a full setup of mics and, because we tape the podcast as well, video. We use the Mevo, so it feels like we have a multi-camera setup, but we really don’t. That Mevo is so sharp. The technology knows when someone should be the focus, so it’s almost like an “auto-editor,” which is awesome. Then we’re in a studio and we can have a guest who sits in front of the camera and my brother Terry and I are on either side of the camera, and it’s like we have a three-camera setup.
So, I would suggest, anybody that’s just getting started, if you have the means, pick up that Mevo. It’s great for just getting started. The Zoom is also a really solid program, but if you can, get a full setup because you can also connect microphones to that…
The person that really motivated us to do it was Aisha Tyler. She has a show that I did with her, and her podcast is super-duper popular. One of the things that I found so interesting about Aisha’s podcast, when she asked me to join as a guest, is it was just me and her and a microphone and her MacBook. Super simple. It wasn’t an elaborate process. We just had a conversation.
That sort of setup makes it really comfortable, and you get the most out of people when they feel comfortable. So that simplicity really helps. I think if you have something to say, there’s a lot of ways for you to actually plug in and get your message out.
RT Today: You’re pretty well-versed in podcast technology. Do you consider yourself a techie?
Omar Benson Miller: I love tech. I used to be more of a techie. Now technology’s moving so fast, there’s always something to be reviewed. There’s always something to play with. I definitely consider myself a techie, it’s just hard to keep up…
I went to CES last year, and, dude, I totally and completely got my bell rung. I wish there was a CES monthly so that I could just figure out the stuff that I need to go get. There’s so much technology now that isn’t just cool toys but it’s functionally making your life better. It’s crazy.
RT Today: What kind of tech do you have integrated in your home? You’re a TV/movie actor, what’s your home entertainment setup like?
Omar Benson Miller: It would be dumb for me to not have my home theater game up. It’s only right. My home theater is set up, I like to think, pretty phenomenally. I have two things that I’m really proud of. One, I got that Samsung, 75-inch, Q series, and the colors are outrageous. It’s a great place to watch a film. And I coupled that with a Sonos system.
Mine is the place where you want to watch movies, dude. It’s poppin’. Honestly, I go full tech in my house. I’m on YouTube TV; I’m on all of the apps. And I got a freakin’ robot vacuum cleaner. These are pieces that I really like, my tech pieces. The thing that I’m looking to pick up … I went to Tokyo and got my mind blown by Toto bidets because it’s just mind blowing to me that the culture there demands the toilet be in a separate room of its own. Separate from the shower and the bathroom. And you have not lived until you’ve had yourself a heated toilet that washes your bum. It’s crazy. And clam shells open as you enter the room, so these are some of the luxe tech things that really excite me.
RT Today: Did you use a custom installer for your home theater system or did you do it yourself?
Omar Benson Miller: I have a buddy who’s an installer, that’s what he does professionally. He’s a good friend of mine, so we did it together, and because he patched up the walls there are no wires. We’ve got everything set up. We put an extra splitter on it so that I can also run the same thing that I’m watching in the living room to a mounted television outside, to take advantage of the California lifestyle, the indoor/outdoor lifestyle. When there’s a game on, you can run a split and have it work outside and inside so you can have a killer party for sporting events and whatnot.
The TV itself is way too heavy for one person. You have to lift it and mount it and hold it. Then you need to cut and patch the wall. I actually live in a 109-year-old home, and they’re real walls, they’re not like drywall. You cut the wall, you get in there, then you have to create electrical outlets in there, close the wall back up, and paint the wall. So there’s a lot that goes into it.
RT Today: Is there any kind of smart home tech that you’ve got your eyes on, besides the bidet?
Omar Benson Miller: Well, you know, I got my eye on the bidet but I also have my eye – this sounds disgusting since we’re talking about the bidet – but I also have my eye on the smart refrigerator. I don’t know how necessary it is, but I’ve been checking them out.
I can’t see what the refrigerator does besides keep my stuff cool. So I don’t understand necessarily why I need it to be so much smarter. I do have a smart oven, which I love. And it really helps because I have a tendency to forget that the bean dip is inside of the oven, and it can go the wrong way there. But there’s so much tech in homes now. I also have an HD security system that I set up. So you have a full view of the yard, the house, the whole nine. This is the best time to be a techie and have a couple bucks.
RT Today: For sure. Now everything’s integrated. You can do stuff on your phone. You can actually warm up the hot tub on your way home if you’ve got it connected.
Omar Benson Miller: It’s outrageous. That’s the other thing that I have my eye on; the Nest system. Right now I have a Honeywell that connects to the air conditioning and this, that, and the other. But I have a few friends who have that Nest system and it makes me lust after it because it gets hot in L.A., and they can cool the house down just before they get there. When they leave work and they’ve got a 25-minute drive or something like that. They can turn the air on then, instead of running the air all day and running up the bill. I’m also a super fan of the tankless water heater. I just replaced a 75-gallon with a tankless. I’m pretty knee-deep into this home tech. I love it.
RT Today: What work are you involved in outside of acting that you’re most proud of?
Omar Benson Miller: We created a foundation called the Omar Miller Foundation … We created a system to take a lot of the leftover food from movie and television sets and take it to pantries – food pantries and food kitchens and what not. I would say the greatest thing we did is we teamed up with a place called Union Station Homeless Services Center that feeds people. You don’t even have to be homeless, it just feeds people on Thanksgiving and Christmas. And, we participated with them and helped feed thousands of people.
I’m also part of something called the Irish Mathletes Alliance, where, basically, we take the spotlight of our board and channel it to whoever it is that has a cause, whatever their cause is at the time. So it’s a pretty spectacular board.
And then I do Fight Night for [Fight for Children]. It’s a charity event down in Washington D.C., the one night of the year where they allow cigar smoke indoors in Washington D.C., at the same place where they do the correspondence dinner, the Washington Hilton. It’s about raising money for kids with cancer, underprivileged kids in the [Washington metropolitan] area.
So there’s a few things that I have my hands in that I’m proud of. I don’t talk about it much because I feel like that sort of thing should be done in private. I have my eye on giving back and how I can expand that because I’ve been really blessed and so I want to help as much as I can.
RT Today: What advice would you give to people who want to take their career or their business to the next level?
Omar Benson Miller: I’m a real believer in failing up. So take the chances. You can’t achieve greatness when you aim for mediocrity, so fail upwards. Constantly take yourself out of your comfort zone, because that’s the only way to grow. There’s a great book out called Total Rethink from this communications titan named David McCourt. He sold a company for like 14, 15 billion dollars, and one of the things he analyzes in there is how in this world of technology, disruption has become the road to super success.
I think that you can disrupt your own life in ways that break the routine, that challenge you, that will open doors for you to try to figure out the path. It really is about working smarter and not harder nowadays. Everybody’s working hard enough.
But working smart is the way to go. And we are in a changing world … So with that, we have to constantly be aware of what we can do to update. We have to always be ready to challenge and be challenged. So if you run a business that’s been working for 50 years and you don’t have a monopoly on it, you better be ready. Because they are coming. No matter what the field is. And these young kids are sharp. You need to stay a step ahead of the game by figuring out the challenges that you can meet that aren’t even there yet.
And the only way you do that is by trying. So actually step out of the comfort zone. Be persistent. And fail your way upwards. I had no less than 500 voiceover auditions that I didn’t get before I became the voice of Raphael [in Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles], and I tell ya, if I would have been too discouraged to go and do the thousandth audition, I would have never gotten the role.