Desmond Elliot An ‘Inch’ Away From The Hallowed Chamber
HE has scaled the high hurdles of securing the party nomination. Next will be to scale what some observers have described as the ‘taller wall’ of securing the mandate of the electorates in his constituency—Surulere, to represent them at the Lagos State House of Assembly.
D-day is February 28 and notable actor, producer and director and later day politician Desmond Olushola Elliot who is running under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has two candidates—the candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conscience Party (NCP) – to beat to be able to secure a seat in the hallowed chambers.
“I am confident that by His special grace, I will be elected. From field reports and from what I have experienced personally and what my foot soldiers have reported, one should just be getting prepared to be sworn in”, he enthused in Surulere minutes before the commencement of a Youth Empowerment Seminar which he sponsors annually since 2010.
Elliot who is popular as Sola in his constituency had earlier expressed confidence that he will secure the votes of the electorates in Surulere Constituency, noting that he was not in the race just so as to add the title of a politician to his resume, but that he was in it to empower the youth and to change certain development in his constituency for good. “We need to empower the people and I feel God has helped me thus far and I want to give back through politics that will be favourable to the people”, he said.
Clearly one of Nigerian leading screen actors, Elliot never had ‘politicking’ as a career wish. Even his incursion into moviedom was just an attempt to satisfy an urge to act. In fact there was nothing, prior to 2014 that suggested that Elliot was going to emerge a politician that would be seeking elective office. The amiable actor revealed that except for his minimal involvement in association and campus politics and in campaigning for some politicians, he never had a grand sense of mission that he would have to combine acting, directing and producing with being a politician.
“But I am in it now”, he says, adding: “it just tells you that everyone has a certain streak of a politician in him. I think mine has just fully manifested even though I would say that politics has always been a part of me. I have been involved in campaigns for some governors and even the President. So, I have always had it at back of my mind as something I would do one day. It is a well-thought out action and I come very prepared”, he clarified.
A multiple award-winning actor who has had a successful transition from acting to directing and who has undoubtedly reinvented himself since he joined Nollywood as an actor from a career in modeling, Elliot rode into prominence as an actor on the back of Charles Novia’s box office hit Missing Angel. Since then, the actor who named Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola and Chief Godswill Akpabio as his political role models, has become the darling and toast of most of producers and movie fans across the continent.
Director of critically acclaimed movies like In the Cup Board, Kiss and Tell, Next President, Paradox, The Place, Apaye and Weekend Get Away, Elliot received a confirmation of his rating as an emerging director when his short and long feature Paradox and Next President won prizes at the just held 10th edition of the Abuja International Film Festival (AIFF).
Paradox received the best short film crest while Next President fetched him the outstanding director’s crest and the festival grand jury prize.
But Elliot’s climb to fame is on the back of acting. Ironically, Elliot never bore the grand ambition of becoming an actor, a reason he chose to study Economics at the Lagos State University (LASU) when the opportunity beckoned. But as years pilled up he discovered that his was a natural pull towards acting and today, he has become one of Nollywood’s leading actors.
At a time, leader of the El-Shaddai Worship Center’s drama group in Jos, a position he said made him a regular feature of most of the group’s drama productions, Elliot caught the acting bug as a ‘faithful’ fan of the long rested television soap ‘Egoli’. He particularly found fascinating the acting abilities of one of the characters in the soap, Stephen. Convinced that he could live a role as well as Stephen and even better, Elliot then set out to act.
He later hit the road, sought audition notices, attended a few, and secured roles but majorly as an extra. In between he featured in two soaps- Saint and Sinners and Every Day People’.
But even as things started to look up for Elliot, the urge to learn the rudiments of acting got stronger. He felt that to do well in a profession one needed to be trained. So to prepare him professionally, Elliot enrolled to be trained as an actor at the Independent Television Producers Association (ITPAN) Training School Lagos. It was while at ITPAN that Elliot came face to face with the method actor who later became his mentor Richard Mofe Damijo or RMD for short.
RMD had come as a visiting lecturer and Elliot confessed that the ‘classes with RMD’ nailed it for him. Soon as he left ITPAN, Elliot who without a doubt modeled his acting style around that of RMD (some critics say he is a clone of RMD) engaged the acting run way confidently. Acting knew no bounds for the humble and hardworking Nollywood personality from that point. It became something of a full time job for the actor of innumerable home movie credits, who got movie buffs turned in his direction as the lead male actor in Missing Angel. Even the star of My Faithful Friend, 30 Days in Atlanta, and The Challenge among others admitted that the movie contributed ‘a great deal’ in thrusting him unto public space.
Married to a banker and blessed with children, Elliot who is the sixth child born to Pa Elliot who is Yoruba from Lagos and the first child of a mother of Delta origin, says his career wish is to be reckoned with at home and abroad. “Though I am in politics now, there is no doubt that motion picture practice has become my first love. So I want to remain relevant. I am only in politics to help in propagating and promoting laws that would help to structure the industry and make it better’, he said.
And his career wish now that he is in politics? He smiled and replied ‘’well it is to affect people positively. You see many people believe that entertainers are getting into politics because of money. But that is not true. After all, we make money as entertainers. But as a fresh mind, mine is how to harness the resources around me and provide for the people. Right now, even before the election, we have already secured admission for a couple of people at the Open University. We also have an ongoing skills acquisition programme. The plan is to try and get as many people off the streets as possible”, he said.
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