Elijah Kelley was born with a star quality that allowed him to stand out as a child. Now a grown man, Kelley is out to prove that triple threats can make it triple platinum. This outspoken, strong-willed southern gentleman always knew that he wanted to sing. Starring in 2007’s Hairspray as Seaweed catapulted the young star’s career into new heights, proving that he has the chops to stand out among R&B’s elite. Kelley is the first urban artist for New Line Records, so that means he has to set the standard for the label. However, any urban artists that follow him will have some big shoes to fill; Kelley wrote all the songs on his September 2008 release and produced three of the tracks. He is proving himself to be a force in the recording industry and hopes to become a classic.
How did you get your start in acting? Music?
I always wanted to entertain at a young age. My interest started right after I took the SAT and I figured I didn’t want to go to college. I told my parents my dream was to act. Two weeks after I graduated from high school, they dropped everything to move L.A. It was a fate-filled move and I am very thankful that they did that.
Music was a part of me from birth. My mom my mom, dad and brother sing. I grew up in church and before I knew it, I was in the church choir at 3—before I could even speak well. We had a traveling gospel group and I used to sing in a tuxedo and gold bow tie.
What role did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed my role in Hairspray the most. I played seaweed, Amanda Bynes’ love interest, Nikki Blonsky’s best friend and Queen Latifah’s son. It was my most critically acclaimed role. As much as people say that role is me, it was a challenge. Being on that set with veterans, I had a chip on my shoulder. I had to go the extra mile—150% on top of 100% that I’d given because I had to stand up amongst giants. I fought through the insecurities of not knowing how I was going to stick out.
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