“It’s a story about an innocent, good kid who rose up in a really harsh environment, where there’s no positive role model, a family of violence and the idea of success is nowhere inside any of the kids”. That’s how Elijah Boothe describes his first big project as a main character in City, a Netflix production that will come out later this year.
"Kendall, my character, goes through a lot. He doesn’t have a father figure in his life. He only has his mother and his two friends. Everything is stripped from Kendall when his love of his life goes to college, which is a really big deal because nobody goes to college from that area.
He has nothing, He feels like he’s hopeless and like he’s never going to get out of that city, hence the title of the film. Until one day he’s walking down the street and he stumbles across this duffle bag of money. And he thinks “ You know what, this is my opportunity, it’s maybe my chance to get out”. And as soon as he takes that money, everything just spirals down from there, it’s the total opposite".
Kendall like Cottonmouth
Elijah's Kendall has several traits in common with another one of his characters, Cottonmouth in Luke Cage.
In fact, he had the honour of sharing the role with Academy Award winning Mahershala Ali.
“Luke Cage was such an incredible experience, I’m still trying to take it all in as the days go on,” Elijah says. “But it’s so humbling and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with legends. Everybody was so sweet. All of them came and introduced themselves to me and I was like, ‘Oh my God, why are you introducing yourself to me? I know who you are.’”
And among those legends, there was someone who quickly became a mentor and inspiration for Elijah's acting career.
“LaTanya Richardson Jackson (Samuel L. Jackson’s wife) played my grandmother (in Luke Cage) and it was so crazy. She was so motherly on set and we still keep in touch till this day. I can definitely say she’s been my biggest inspiration this far. She taught me from day one of us working together on set”.
“Once, she told me “Listen, where’s your driver?” I was like: “Driver? What do you mean driver?” And she said “You need a driver!” and I told her that I wasn’t there yet and she told me: “Listen, I’m going to tell you right now. You are so talented and you’re going to work for a very long time. So get ready.” And after that, everything she said became true. In fact, after Luke Cage I got three other job offers."
“I’ve filmed a new pilot called Wholly Broken, a TV musical series a bit like Glee. I get to really use all of my gifts, singing, acting, dancing. It’s also really special because it’s a Christian project. And that was just a blast to work on. As well as that I just filmed another movie, two weeks ago, called All These Small Moments. Unfortunately I can’t talk about that at the moment,” he smiles.
Whitewashing in Hollywood: are things finally changing?
“From my personal career I got many roles that were all ethnicity, so we’re actually going forwards. But hopefully this change will last, finger-crossed it will last. Because diversity is a beautiful thing" Elijah says firmly. "I’m looking forward to see a more opened world for everybody of all colour, all races, and going forward in the future”.
"We actors not only are story tellers but we also have our voice, our distinctive and unique voice to really bring about change. So we can do that with art, with publicity.”