Hometown actor, performer shoots new video at church

LaGRANGE- Hometown cooking was in the neighborhood Thursday afternoon as LaGrange native, actor and singer Elijah Kelley was in town to shoot his brand new music video inside Warren Baptist Methodist Church at 416 E Depot Street.

The video is a three-minute short film that serves as a visual to the music that Kelley is set to put out in 2017. He also will star in an upcoming movie about the famous R&B group New Edition.

“What I’m looking to do is capture some of my personal music element and putting it along with the steam that I have with the New Edition film coming out,” said Kelley, who was born and raised in LaGrange.

The genre of Kelley’s music is pop and R&B. The name of his first single is called “Testify” and he is expected to release his first album in either February or March.

Kelley says the idea of his first music video was inspired from one of his favorite movies, the 1967 film classic The Graduate starring Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross.

“The concept of the video came from one of my favorite movies The Graduate,” said Kelley. “At the end of the movie, Ben (Hoffman’s character) tries to break up a wedding and get the love of his life back, so that’s what the concept of the video is.”

That led to him explaining his reasoning for shooting the video here in LaGrange.

“I wanted to come back home to do the video because there’s some of the most soulful people here and some of the most genuine people here. I needed a real element like here. Here at this church was one of the first places where I started singing at. My family and I used to sing in a gospel group called the Leonard Family and we went around singing at different churches in LaGrange. Making this video is a dream come true and making it here is a dream come true,” he said.

Kelley then dived into why he likes to give back to his hometown.

“It’s important for me to shoot the video here,” he said. “Two people that I love and who engage their people are Will Smith and Tyler Perry. Will Smith is always doing things in Philly and Tyler Perry always knows his audience. I understand that here is where my people are at. Giving them something they can digest or is palatable, that’s also nostalgic to me, is a win-win.”

Kelley, a 2004 Troup High School graduate, has played in several well-known movies since jumping off his acting career like the dance drama Take the Lead, an American war film about a group of Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II Red Tails, critically-acclaimed Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the popular musical Hairspray (where he received a Young Hollywood Award for One to Watch and was nominated for a Critics Choice Award), and he played the Scarecrow in the NBC TV musical The Wiz last year. He is portraying New Edition member Ricky Bell in the much-anticipated biopic about legendary musical band New Edition called The New Edition Story, which is scheduled to air in three parts, totaling six hours on Jan. 24, 25 and 26 on BET.

“The most important thing I want people of LaGrange to take from my video is manifest your dreams,” said Kelley. “I decided that fear was not an option for me. I had to come to a place that was home for me to get rid of the fear of doing music, the apprehension of it. Putting yourself out with this music, you have to know that people are going to judge it, scrutinize you, but I just want to give back to the people, like they gave back to me.”


Shirttail- Reach James Simpson II at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155, or by email at james.simpson@lagrangenews.com