www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/bal-elijahkelley0718,0,699268.story

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Elijah Kelley talks about his experiences with 'Hairspray'

July 18, 2007

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Sun movie critic Michael Sragow interviewed "Hairspray" star Elijah Kelley about his role as Seaweed J. Stubbs in the Baltimore-evoking (albeit not Baltimore-made) film. Here are some quotes from Kelley on his experience with the film:

• "I don't think anything I've ever done before this would spark any interest. Honestly, my credits would not put me in the ranks of doing a character like Seaweed in a movie like 'Hairspray.' I think I get a fresh start with 'Hairspray.' It's kind of a coming-out for me. I've been in L.A. for two years."

• "I auditioned for it; they were not beating down the door for me. Me and my agents, we go in there, we did our thing and worked hard on our audition. I had one my best auditions. The whole experience of making the movie was amazing from being with veterans like John Travolta to the newcomer Nikki Blonsky, such a broad array of perspectives, wisdom and experience. If this had been an acting school, it would have been the top university."

• "I did three auditions, and shortly after the third one, I got the job. ... I wasn't able to work after that, because I didn't want anything to conflict."

• "The movie is coming out exactly a year after I got to Toronto."

• "I grew up in LaGrange, Ga., singing, playing different instruments all my life. Started being in drama in elementary school, doing plays, then performing high school, a couple of projects in middle school. Performing has always been my passion -- if there was a choice between a TV show and a history book, I picked the TV show."

• "My parents took jobs for me to make the move to Los Angeles; almost at the end of 2004 we moved out here. I'm 20 now; graduated high school and the same year moved out. ... I had to pursue my dream. It was such the moment and the right time. Just had faith something was happening. Nothing was concrete, not one part."

• "I took some courses in school, but I think talent is God-given -- you can't teach what I've been touched with."

• "They didn't test me and Amanda [Bynes] or me and Queen Latifah for chemistry. First time we met was on the movie set. The first time we kissed was the first time we kissed on screen. Same with Queen Latifah; they didn't test us, but the chemistry was there. And that's what I found so amazing. Everyody gelled, no egos, no divas, no prima donnas, it was just crazy."

• "Amanda jumped for joy over what a great kisser I was! I wished we had done more takes."

• "I saw the original 'Hairspray' a while back; I didn't go back and didn't want to base my character on the Broadway show or the original."

• "My first trip to Baltimore, I'm excited. I haven't got to meet John Waters yet."