Young Actor, Elijah Boothe On His Road To Hollywood, Mahershala Ali, and More
Featured in Marvel’s: Luke Cage, and Woody Allen’s A Rainy Day In New York, Elijah Boothe talks resilience, perseverance, and overcoming rejection as a young actor in Hollywood
Auditioning for any role can be nerve-racking. Auditioning for Lion King on Broadway, getting three call backs, and finally, not making the cut can be even more daunting. But for Elijah Boothe, he recalls not being bothered by it at all because acting was something his mother always wanted him to do when he was a kid.
“I just wanted to pursue a career in singing because that is what I knew how to do best. My mom saw more in me and wanted me to do it all so, after her friend told her about the Lion King on Broadway musical auditions, she immediately signed me up and made me sing a gospel song during my audition.” he shared.
But after 13 years of working on a passion that fell into his lap by chance, acting became second-nature to him. He considers himself lucky to have found the path to his purpose.
A path that started in Jackson, New Jersey where he grew up in the church singing gospel. He also attended the Academy for Performance Arts and was a part of the same scholarship program alongside Timothee Chalamet at the National YoungArts Foundation where award-winning alumni like Viola Davis and Kerry Washington both attended. Influenced by the work of his predecessors, Boothe has now moved on to pursue a life on the big screen in Hollywood, a journey he echos: not for the faint of heart.
His perseverance and commitment to perfecting his craft has earned Elijah an ever-growing list of credits where he is starred alongside academy award-winning actors in films; Marvel’s Netflix Series: Luke Cage (2016), Woody Allen’s featured film: A Rainy Day in New York (2019), Netflix’s Drama Series: Coin Heist (2017), and All These Small Moments (2018).
But his road to Hollywood has not been an easy one. From being rejected by casting directors for roles he felt was written for him to having his character cut from movie scripts on the first day of filming, he recalls waves of devastation and falling into a rut where quitting was all he could think about.
“When I started at a young age with Lion King on Broadway being my first set of auditions, hearing no didn’t really impact me in the way it does today. This is an industry that teaches you resilience, and perseverance. I’ve had experiences where I heard no and I had to decide to give-up or keep going. There were many auditions that I didn’t make, like Moonlight and When They See Us, and even though it was disappointing, I had to come to terms with hearing no. Rejection is a part of this industry. After 13 years of acting and working on my craft, I now recognize that I am not auditioning to get every single role, only the ones that were meant for me.
Most people don’t know that even after making it through auditions, if it doesn’t work out during filming, the crew can still cut you from the cast. You can step on set on day one, and if the director doesn’t feel like it is a perfect fit, they can recast your role and find someone else. That happened to me once. I was cast for a role with a network — an opportunity that could’ve changed my life, and on the first day of set, my character was cut and the producers gave my lines to someone else. I was devastated because I had given it my all, auditioned three to four times, committed to the project, and it was ripped right away from me after already being selected for the show. In that moment I thought my career was over. That opportunity was supposed to be my breakout role. But looking back, that was a stepping stone and so now when I go through the experience of hearing no and having roles and lines stripped away from me, I no longer feel defeated or thrown off course.”
Elijah Boothe Is Wearing:
Vintage Haus, Forest Green Jacket and Trousers
H&M, Ribbed Collar Polo Shirt
On Being A Part of Marvel’s Film, Luke Cage:
“I literally don’t know how else to describe it. Maybe surreal would be the second-best way? When I auditioned, I had no idea it was of that magnitude because Marvel is super confidential with their new projects, so I had no idea I was going to be in a Marvel series. It helped because I didn’t feel the pressure, I just wanted to tell the story of the character and do something that I love to do. I ended up auditioning for the character ‘young cotton-mouth’ in three different ways. Even on the day of my fitting, I still had no idea I was going to be in a Marvel Series.
My character plays piano on the show, and they had me train for two weeks with Mahershala Ali, and even then, I still didn’t have full context of the show. It wasn’t until the day of the table reading with main characters like Mike Colter, Alfre Woodard, and the executive producers that I realized it was going to be something big, something special.”
I learned the importance of not settling or rushing the process. Woody is a perfectionist and there is so much inspiration in that
- MR. ELIJAH BOOTHE
On working with Mahershala Ali and Woody Allen:
“I am like a sponge whenever I am working with new cast and crew members. My biggest takeaway from working with stars like Mahershala Ali is humility. I have never worked with somebody on set or on a production that was as humble as Mahershala — he raised the bar for me. While working with him on set for Luke Cage learning minor keys on the piano, he had already been nominated for an Emmy and even then, he was still very down-to-earth. That is who I aspire to be like.
When I worked on A Rainy Day In New York — a Woody Allen featured film that was recently released, I was able to work hands-on with the Academy Award-Winning Director, Woody Allen. I think it’s every actor’s dream to work with an Academy Award-Winning Director. I showed up to set everyday ready to be filled with wisdom about the industry so that I can grow and be a better version of myself. There is one scene that we filmed all day for and shortly after wrapping up, I received a call that Woody wasn’t happy with it and that we needed to re-shoot until it is exactly how he wants it. In that, I learned the importance of not settling or rushing the process. Woody is a perfectionist and there is so much inspiration in that.”
Elijah Boothe Is Wearing:
Vintage Haus, Pinstripe Jacket and Trousers
Thoughts On Being Held Back:
“I think that Hollywood is in a good place right now. We are not there all the way, but we are definitely getting there. In terms of being held back, my parents taught me and my brothers that the only thing that can hold us back is ourselves. Being held back is a choice, and only you can give people the power of doing that. And of course there are times when things are out of our control, but ultimately it is all about perseverance. If I allowed rejection to hold me back I would still be living in Jackson, New Jersey right now. There will always be obstacles as black people. We are still fighting for basic equality. As a young black man in Hollywood it is a constant battle.”
His Advice To Other Young Actors:
“Sow the seed of positivity. The key to a successful acting career is having a strong foundation — studying, knowing the basics, attending workshops, attending a performance arts school and just immersing yourself in the craft. If you can’t afford classes, hop on YouTube and watch various coaching classes that are available and take notes. Most importantly, do not compare yourself. Trust your own journey, trust your own process, and know that when it is your time it will be your time.”