Elijah Kelley isn’t new to the scene, but he’s someone you are going to remember. You may have seen him in hits like Hairspray (2007), Red Tails (2012) and Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013). He’s had a kind of slow burn career and is a man of many talents. A great actor, phenomenal singer, dancer,philanthropist, and also producer. Most of all he’s someone who has who can bring a smile into any room he walks in on. When he encountered our group of 25 Mom Bloggers he didn’t miss a beat. He was smiling up a storm, taking selfies, and not only gave us a great interview, but a performance as well.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to voice Sunny?
EK: First of all, I’ve never done a voiceover before in my life, so it was a little bit of a challenge because see he’s (Sunny), hyper and super into everything that he always does. I thought that it was gonna be so easy. I thought it was gonna be a piece of cake, but I would go in there and guarantee you, I would leave, lightheaded and sweaty from all the running and everything. It was like P90X. Bringing it to life and understanding the world that Sunny lives in, and understanding that he’s kind of like, you know, I see him sort of the nucleus of trying to get everything together, and pulling everybody together, and trying to save the day, and messing up the day, it’s a lot like me.
Q: When we were developing genuine characters, we wanted to make the characters relatable to audiences of all kinds and all ages. Are there any themes in the movie that you relate to or think people will connect with?
EK: I think that people will connect for fighting for what you love because as you can see that it’s- everybody goes through a lot of trouble to be able to grasp the love of their life, and I think that love is so complicated. I think that the wiring of love is just so weird, you know, and the fact that people can go to the ends of the Earth to capture something like that is very, very inspirational. I think in a time like this where we are in the world, it’s an animation, but the subject matter is universal and it’s timeless, you know? Whether we’re talking about a divide in America or we’re talking about what’s going on over in Paris, not to be so serious but, love eradicates a lot of those issues.
Q: We have these two kingdoms that have this division and this kind of beef between them, so to speak, and because two of the characters are able to fall in love, everyone’s able to come together.
EK: Understanding and conversation. It’s like when the Bog King finally had a conversation with his mom, set up the whole place, and they went in and, they were like, we hate all the same things. So now we can love all the same things so, our common interest in what we don’t like. You know, love can be spawned from so many different things.
Q: It’s just so great seeing what Sunny and Dawn go through.
EK: Yeah, that was the most human characteristic of the movie. Like, I know probably everybody in this room has been around somebody that you just look up and you find yourself attracted to; you don’t even know how to say it or what to say you know…I don’t even know how to function in this relationship, but give it time and, obviously, Sun got his little kiss at the end, you know, his little- groove on at the end.
Q: So you’re a quadruple threat, Elijah. You’re not only a great actor, dancer, and philanthropist, but today we experienced your amazing singing. Can you tell us a little bit about your background as a singer, and what was your, your favorite song to perform in Strange Magic?
EK: Actually my favorite song in Strange Magic isn’t there anymore. Can we blog hashtag sequel? ( #SEQUEL ) It was a song called, Hold On, I’m Coming. But my favorite song in the movie is not even a full song. It’s when the little birdies, they sing: Gotcha Looking So Crazy Right Now.
My musical background started in church. I grew up in church all my life. My mom was in ministry; my dad was in ministry, so we, we had a traveling singing group that we go all around the southeast to different churches and we would just sing and congregate, and that’s actually how I met the guitarist was when I first moved out here in 2005 or 2006. I came here, I found a church, and I was like, I wanna keep playing drums. So I played drums at this church for, like, a year and a half and he was the music director. Now he’s doing big things. He’s, like, producing the album, with BabyFace right now as we speak, so.
Q: How much did you improvise in the Role?
EK: It was a lot because Gary. They were so gracious in allowing you bring the character to life in your way. The funny thing was, the first time I came up here, all the elves in the forest looked the same. They were little white elves. And I was like, okay, somebody’s gonna have to get some tanning lotion, [AUDIENCE LAUGHS], put in a super soaker and just spray everybody. When that happened, it just like, you know, you wanna put a little flavor in there and put a littleswag in there; I think Sunny has that.
Check out Elijah Kelley as Sunny in Strange Magic January 23!!
“Strange Magic,” a new animated film from Lucasfilm Ltd., is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion. Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic bring to life the fanciful forest turned upside down with world-class animation and visual effects. Directed by Gary Rydstrom (“Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation,” “Lifted”) from a story by George Lucas, “Strange Magic” will be released by Touchstone Pictures on Jan. 23, 2015.
***Disclosure: I attended #StrangeMagicEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***