Dale Elliott had no intention of becoming an actor, but after his engaging performance in Storm Saulter’s award-winning drama “Sprinter,” it’s a career the 23-year-old plans to embark on. “Now that I am in it, I love it and I want a future in it. I finish school in December and I plan to go into acting as I would like to do more films,” he shares.
In “Sprinter,” Elliott’s feature film debut, he plays Akeem Sharp, an athlete with aspirations to become Jamaica’s next big track-and-field sensation and although the Instagram personality was comfortable in front of the camera with his witty observational skits and comedic commentary on the social media platform, he hadn’t done any full-fledged acting before being cast in the film.
“I had no knowledge of set life before ‘Sprinter’ and the first week of shooting was very difficult for me,” he admits. “Then Storm taught me that less is more. So the less I tried to pull for emotion the better it showed on camera. I really just relaxed, thought about who the character is and what he wants to accomplish. Because I share many similarities with the character, I started to draw from whichever emotion I needed at the time,” adds the actor whose popular videos on Instagram kickstarted his acting career.
For Elliott, the casting call came after Saulter had seen one of his playful and hugely entertaining videos on Instagram where he has amassed several hundred followers and discovered that he also had a track-and-field background.
“I don’t know how he got my phone number,” he jokes, “but when he called he asked me to tell him about myself. I told him my father lives in America and my mother lives in the U.K. and I did track-and-field in high school. He then told me that he is doing a movie where the boy is a runner and his mother lives abroad. The next day I found out that I got the role.”
Sometimes a rookie carries an entire film and that’s certainly the case in this film for the fresh-faced actor oozes with vibrant energy in the inspirational drama which also stars Lorraine Toussaint who plays his mother. Kadeem Wilson plays his older brother and his father is played by the legendary Dennis Titus. Shantol Jackson, Bryshere Y. Gray, and David Alan Grier who plays his coach, round off the main cast in the drama which is executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith.
“The cast helped me a lot,” continues Elliott who says he had very little formal acting training prior to filming. “What you see on the camera is just me doing my best. Kadeem helped me a lot, David was really nice to work with and also I worked with Bryshere while filming in Los Angeles who is very talented.”
A film which has already snagged several film festival awards including the Best Narrative Feature at the Pan African Film Festival where it screened earlier this year, “Sprinter” features songs by Ne-Yo and Jamaican dancehall artist Shenseea.
Over the past decade each new social-media platform has given rise to a subculture of celebrities, worshipped by teenagers and children but largely unknown to anyone else and although his performance as the strong-willed Akeem Sharp may have garnered Elliott critical acclaim, for the young star life remains the same.
“More people know me and I have more followers but I still have fun doing my Instagram videos and still make fun of everything that goes wrong in my life, but as it relates to me being a regular person nothing has changed.”
“Sprinter” is currently playing in theaters. Check out the trailer below.
By Samantha Ofole-Prince/ Photos Courtesy of FilmRise