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Yes-way says Alberni's Joe-Zay
You’re a lucky person if you work at a job you like. You’re twice as lucky if that job happens to be your favourite hobby.
That’s just how Port Alberni resident Jose Arujo feels.
Arujo is a videographer with Shaw TV Port Alberni and Shaw TV in Victoria. He does regular news spots on Shaw Channel 4, as well as his own regular show, Rapid Fire.
The 30-something has been passionate about film since his days in North Hampton, Mass. And later as a film student at Humber College in Toronto.
“I used to skip school to go to the theatre,” said Arujo, who counts Wes Anderson as one of his favourite directors.
“I was always intent on being a writer, actor or director.”
Being in front of a camera is something that comes natural to Arujo, who is much the same in person as he is on camera. “It’s a gift. It’s a gift that I want to do something with,” he said.
Arujo was born in Toronto “in 1970-question mark,” he said. “I wasn’t one of these people born in a suburb of Toronto. I was born and raised in the downtown core.”
The youngest of eight children, Arujo’s earliest memory is of an older brother hanging him upside down on a swing set – then dropping him. “We argue to this day because he said I told him to let go,” Arujo said. “I was a little kid, what did I know I was saying – and he let go. I got stitches on my chin out of it.”
Arujo first went to school in Toronto. But one of his brothers moved to North Hampton on the early 1990s and Jose (whose name is pronounced Joe-Zay) went with him.
Arujo found comfort in drama classes at his new school and home. “I was always eccentric so I fit right in. But it was an awakening for me at the same time.”
New Kids on the Block were popular when Arujo graduated in 1994 but he wouldn’t have any of that. “I was totally into grunge – Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, The Pixies, Soungarden,” he said. “No, no New Kids on the Block – hell no.”
Arujo moved back to Toronto after graduating from high school, where he attended Humber College and worked as a bartender for the next 10 years.
“It was a way to pay for my acting classes,” he said. “I did stand-up comedy and sketch too during that time.”
He got out of bartending and spent the next seven years in the family’s children’s shoes business. “I was on the road six months out of the year selling product,” he said. “I drove through Pennsylvania, Maine, Vegas, California, Oregon and B.C.”
The family’s business closed in 2008, leaving Arujo with time on his hands and looking for something to do.
He came to his brother Clay’s wedding, and followed him to the family’s new home in Port Alberni where they were about to run Serious Coffee. Jose stayed and wove himself into the fabric of the Valley.
Arujo poured coffee and grilled paninis, but he also busied himself with play reviews and sports writing, a bit of radio and of course theatre.
But after a chance conversation with Mayor John Douglas, Arujo showed up at the doorstep of Shaw TV offering to volunteer and learn the business. A year later he was hired, and he also does a spot on Shaw Victoria’s The Scene.
Arujo spends more than 12 hours a week in his car around town and commuting to Victoria. An avid runner, he still finds the time to fit in a run or two during the week, he said.
Arujo is currently reading David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. And his favourite movie is Planes, Trains and Automobiles. “It’s real-life comedy that could happen to anybody,” he said.
The best advice Arujo has ever been given would be a quote by Frank White, a set designer for Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse.
“He said “Do what you love and it will take you where you want to be,” Arujo said.
People build an image up in their minds about what working on TV is like. “There are a lot of misconceptions about it, the biggest being just anyone can do it,” he said.
“People freeze up in front of a camera. And they also don’t realize that it takes a lot of work to do this. But you don’t know unless you try.”