Mon | Sep 23, 2019

Dale Elliott sprints after Hollywood dream

Published:Tuesday | July 16, 2019 | 12:15 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
‘Sprinter’ star Dale Elliott made the jump from being a social-media comedian to playing a main role on the big screen. True to his nature, Elliott remained humble, confident and jovial on the night of the premiere.
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Many thought that when social-media application Vine bit the dust a few years ago, its demise would have brought down with it the popular personalities who had built reputations and fan bases there with often hilarious six-second-long videos. What they didn’t realise is that the reputations and fan bases were transferred to living platforms – and the personalities ballooned beyond posting goofy six-second-long stories for a laugh. Though the app that introduced him is defunct, he continues to use social media, lauding it as his gateway to international success.

Dale Elliott, previously known as ‘Ellie_The_Viner’, is now a feature- film star living in his own apartment in Los Angeles, California, and chasing the Hollywood dream.

“Anything come, TV or film. Mi have auditions and stuff. I get my own place now. Right now, I’m in the process of choosing an agent,” he told The Gleaner.

Elliott is the lead actor in Storm Saulter’s latest project, Sprinter, now showing in local cinemas. The film has already been screened at film festivals and in theatres all over the world, with plans in place to open soon in Canada and England. Naturally, Elliott is along for the ride on the promotional trail, and he seems to be enjoying himself , making the comedic posts we’ve come to expect along the way.

“I will always be a social-media person. As it relates to Ellie_The_Viner, the name is no more, but there is still the person. Mi name Dale Elliott now. If a man wah take the name, him can gwan with it. I like that people call me by my name now. It’s more professional, and people will take me more seriously.”

Elliott has been living in Los Angeles since April 2019 and plans to join actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA. Moving to LA was a decision he made when he finished school, keeping in mind the fledgling nature of the local film industry.

“There’s nothing much here (Jamaica). And I’m not saying there’s nothing here to do. But every day, something is shot in LA. Here, probably every two to three years. I had to decide, am I going to stay in Jamaica, where the film industry is growing and where I want to be one of the pioneers of it? Or do I have to take the step, come out, and then come back? If I can go away and get more roles there so I can advertise, ‘Yeah, talent deh a Jamaica‘. There are a lot of talented actors in Jamaica, more than me. I was just fortunate seh mi have a little physicality about me to go with the role.”

It was a serendipitous casting, in that Elliott’s body was familiar with track and field from training in high school before he took on the role of Sprinter’s Akeem Sharp and Elliott himself was a ‘barrel pickney’ – the circumstance that centres Sharp’s emotional discontent, and fuels his motivations. Also neatly aligned is that Saulter found his lead actor through social media.

“Everything just fell in place for me. Social media is the reason that I even got cast. I would encourage anybody out there who wants to act to create their own content. You have social-media now, and it’s very powerful. You have other social media persons out there creating content, and they’re doing very well. You have Prince Pine, Dino, Valdomere, Fatskull, One Ramone. All of us have talent, we have a craft. I’m just glad that people are seeing it and capitalising on it. Pine did a work with Bigga, Fatskull did a work with WATA. There are careers now, outside of the traditional setting.“ Elliott said.

It took about one out of the five weeks it took to shoot Sprinter for Elliott to recognise the difference between leading his own mini-productions and joining a feature film set.

“When I’m making my video, I’m the director, writer, actor - everything in one. The transition from that – having people tell you what to do, what to wear – as first- time actor, I found that a bit difficult for the first week.

“I wasn’t expecting that. But then I realised, ‘This is something I’d actually want to do. And mi like it’ .”

Though Elliott has settled on acting as his primary pursuit now, social media will not be made a secondary practice.

“It is the reason why things still a happen now, why mi remain relevant, so mi nuh think me ever a stop it.

Social media is powerful. If you believe you have something you want to contribute to the world right now, you can put yourself out there through social media. Social media make a whole heap of careers right now. If it wasn’t for social media, mi wouldn’t a do this interview yah.”

kimberley.small@gleanerjm.com