Elijah Boothe: “Own your individuality!”

“Don’t ever wish you were in someone else’s shoes”. When you’re an actor in Hollywood, the temptation to compare yourself is always leering in the dark. I had a friend who is literally always booked and busy on every single show and film you can think of. Looking at his life, the average person would […]

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“Don’t ever wish you were in someone else’s shoes”. When you’re an actor in Hollywood, the temptation to compare yourself is always leering in the dark. I had a friend who is literally always booked and busy on every single show and film you can think of. Looking at his life, the average person would think he was extremely happy. However, behind closed doors he was miserable and was being forced to take every job that he was offered. You never know what people are really going through behind closed doors.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Elijah Boothe.

Elijah is an accomplished actor and musician who is best known for his breakout role on the hit series adaptation of a Marvel comic, Netflix’s “Luke Cage”, where he starred alongside Academy award-winner Mahershala Ali. Elijah’s other credits include the Woody Allen film “A Rainy Day in New York” where he worked alongside Selena Gomez, and Netflix’s “Coin Heist” opposite Sasha Pieterse. Up next Elijah will star as the lead role in “Pink Opaque”, available on Amazon Prime on August 31st. The film is currently making the festival rounds and Elijah has racked up a number of accolades including Best Actor at the San Diego Black Film Festival. A talented singer and songwriter, Elijah is currently working on his debut EP. His latest single “All Eyes on Me”, is available on all streaming platforms and was produced by Swedish Producer duo, Sum Comfort.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Absolutely! I’m originally from Jackson, New Jersey. I was raised in a very creative household by two incredible parents, Clara Key and Glen Boothe. At birth, they made sure my brothers and I had a strong spiritual foundation in God so we definitely grew up in church. However, my parents always pushed us to chase our wildest dreams no matter how big they seemed. My older brother Glen Boothe, also known as Knxwledge, had a spark for making beats so my parents invested in him and bought him a beat machine. Through hard work and dedication, he is now a Grammy Award winning producer. My parents noticed that my other brother Jordan Boothe had a knack for making clothes so they went and bought him a sewing machine. Now he is an incredibly talented celebrity stylist styling some of the biggest names in Hollywood. As for me being the baby of the family, well…I wanted to do it all haha. I followed the path of becoming an actor, musician, and now film producer. I’m extremely grateful to say I have parents that just really believed in investing in their children. I’m praying that one day really soon, I will be able to bless them beyond their wildest dreams, just as they did for my brothers and I. They deserve it. Growing in a Pentecostal church, I can honestly say I found myself, and discovered my purpose. At age 7, I was that little boy walking down the church aisle, mic in hand singing “Walk with me lord” haha. From there I vowed to myself that I would always use my gifts and talents to inspire and evoke positive change in the lives of others.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Sure! I was 10 years old when my mother’s good friend told her that The Lion King on Broadway was casting for Young Simba. Around that time I had never taken any acting classes, but my mother and I decided we were going to walk by faith and not by sight. So we decided to go anyway. To make a long story short, I received 6 callbacks throughout the entire process. In the end, I wound up not receiving the role of Young Simba. However, I didn’t walk away empty handed. My mom and I both knew a seed had been planted, so… we watered it. My mother had me in every acting, vocal, and dance class she could find…Literally! I think I still have my tap shoes lying around somewhere haha. Looking back, all of that preparation, perseverance, and patience has not only led me where I am today, but I believe it’s also sustained me through the years.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Yes! So at the beginning of my career, I did a ton of non-union and background work. One day I arrived on the set of PBS Kids “The Electric Company” to do background work. I was so excited just to be there to learn and further my craft. However, when I went to check-in I quickly found out that the producers of the show bumped me up, giving me my very first principal role on a television show! My mom and I were over the moon! That moment taught me that whatever is truly meant for me will never miss me.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Haha yes! I was at an audition for a pilot and after reading the sides, the casting director had randomly asked me if I could sing. Now…I knew I could sing however I just didn’t know what to sing haha. This is where I learned the lesson of “Preparation meeting opportunity”. Looking back now, I realize that just wasn’t my time. I had a lot more to learn, and a lot more growing to do and that’s ok. We all grow at our own rate. I learned in church that there’s a season for everything.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I actually have a film coming out August 31st on Amazon Prime called Pink Opaque and I couldn’t be more excited. In Pink Opaque, I play the lead Travis Wolfe. Pink Opaque is a riveting coming of age drama about a film student who moves to Hollywood to chase his dreams of becoming a filmmaker. Along that journey, he is faced with so many various tests and trials. But In the end love, passion, and perseverance prevail. I was so honored to help produce this project as well alongside executive producer Dave Ragsdale. His production company Hot Buttered Content has produced creative content for Beyoncé, FX Networks, Disney, Warner Bros, the list goes on! I also had a blast working with director Derrick Perry! He gave me so much creative freedom on set to really make Travis my own. I think Dave and Derrick both did an incredible job in shaping the overall story of this film and bringing awareness to subjects like the huge homeless issue in Los Angeles, and interracial relationships to name a few. I also love that we had a diverse cast as well. Pink Opaque to me is a love letter to every aspiring artist around the world to never stop chasing their dreams, and I am so humbled to be a part of that. Pink Opaque will also be screening at the American Black Film Festival this year, and I’m super excited!

I am also very excited to be working on my debut EP! I’m really proud of the material I’ve been working on. I currently have a song out now entitled “Simple” produced by Grammy Award Winner Knxwledge. I also just released a dual single “All My Lovin” & “Eyes On Me” produced by Stockholm production duo Sum Comfort, and London artist Jordan James. Additional producers on the project include Paris producer See Dee, and Chicago producer Omoidayy.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Most definitely. I believe diversity is vital in the entertainment industry as it relates to telling authentic stories. Diversity also promotes inclusion and gives viewers an opportunity to learn more about different cultures. Last but not least, I think diversity is imperative for our youth. If they don’t see people that look like them represented, they will lose their culture.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. “It’s ok to say no if it does not align with your worth”. For example, I was offered an opportunity to produce a feature film a while back that I knew didn’t align with my spirit at all. I leaped at the opportunity to produce it anyway, and wound up completely being taken advantage of. I definitely learned a valuable lesson and grew from that experience.

2. “Don’t ever wish you were in someone else’s shoes”. When you’re an actor in Hollywood, the temptation to compare yourself is always leering in the dark. I had a friend who is literally always booked and busy on every single show and film you can think of. Looking at his life, the average person would think he was extremely happy. However, behind closed doors he was miserable and was being forced to take every job that he was offered. You never know what people are really going through behind closed doors.

3. “Keep a stiff upper lip”. Ok actually my mom told me this one and I just didn’t listen but boy was she right haha! Unfortunately, we live in a world where everyone is not going to be happy for you so I learned how important it is to not always spill the beans.

4. “Don’t Settle” Early in my career I was always told as an artist that I had to pay my dues, but what I wasn’t really told was not to settle. However, through the years I’ve learned that if you settle for crumbs, you will always be starving.

5. “It takes more than just talent” I’ve learned that everyone is talented and that what really sets you apart in this business is how hard you are willing to work to make your dream a reality. I think It’s imperative to ask yourself, how bad do you really want it and hold yourself accountable.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Three words. Own your individuality! The secret to longevity in this business is being rooted in who you are.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would say the #IAmEnough movement! I want to remind every human being around the world that they are enough just as they are.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Oh that’s easy, my mom. If it wasn’t for her, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have made it this far. She was my very first manager, and supporter. Most importantly, she taught me the beauty of sacrifice and planting seeds, how to be a hard worker, a better artist, and a giver. For that, I am devoted to making sure that she receives the very best. I’m still working towards trying to buy her that house haha. It’s coming Mom!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote would have to be, “good things come to those who wait.” Having been in the industry for 14 years, learning the art of patience was vital. Through the years, I had to remember to never compare myself, always trust the journey, and never forget the mission. Longevity is everything for me.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Yes! I would love to have a private lunch with Cheo Hodari Coker! It would really be a dream come true to just sit down and hear his story. I had the pleasure of working with Cheo before on Luke Cage since he created the show. I will never forget the first day I walked on set to film episode 102. Cheo was one of the first people I had met. He told me that he was the one who saw my audition tape and chose me for the role of “Young Cottonmouth”. I was in awe seeing another black man in such a high position of power, it was really inspiring. Cheo is an artist who has consistently and effectively used his gifts to tell stories that matter. That’s the kind of career I want for myself, and I pray one day I will be able to give someone else an opportunity the same way Cheo gave one to me. We need more people like him in Hollywood.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me on Instagram @ElijahBoothe, and Twitter @BootheElijah

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