Elijah Canlas aspires for filmography like Eddie Garcia’s
While some actors see romance as a distraction, the opposite is true for Elijah Canlas, who believes that his relationship with Miles Ocampo has only made them better actors.
“We may have our own dreams and goals, but we’re in the same industry and we both love what we do. So we just support each other. She helps me study my script, take down notes and memorize my lines. And I do the same for her. We inspire each other,” he told the Inquirer at a recent press conference launching him as the newest contract talent of Cornerstone Entertainment.
Elijah couldn’t be happier for Miles, whose performances in the drama series “Batang Quiapo” often go viral. “I call her ‘veterans.’ She knows the industry better than I do,” he said of his girlfriend, who started out in show biz as a child star. “And I feel so proud whenever I see her trending because I have seen how hard she works or how stressed she is. And to see her gain success is amazing.”
Does he mind Miles getting paired with other leading men? Not at all, said Elijah. In fact, he was the one who actually encouraged Miles to do kissing scenes—something the latter used to be wary of. “Ako pa nga nag-push sa kanya. Before we started dating, we had a chance to work on television (in the TV5 soap ‘Paano ang Pangako’). We were supposed to do a kissing scene, but she didn’t want to do it,” he recalled.
“But now that we’re together, I’m able to tell her that maybe this is a side [of acting] she can finally explore,” the 22-year-old actor said. “I help her get over some of her insecurities … But I can see that the more recognition she gets, the more confidence she gains.”
Asked what attracted her to him at first, Elijah said it was Miles’ talent and her being an old soul. “I noticed how good she was at acting. Then, I found out that she’s an old soul and loves music and writing letters, like me. It was music that broke the ice for us. I gifted her with a Walkman and cassette tapes,” he related. “Later on, I realized that she’s one of the kindest, most passionate people I have met.”
Elijah got his first break in 2019, after starring in the acclaimed Jun Lana film “Kalel 15.” His performance as an HIV-positive teenager won him numerous awards, both here and abroad, including best actor trophies at the Asian Film Festival, the Gawad Urian and Famas Awards in 2020. He then rose to prominence amid the height of the pandemic through the hit YouTube boys’ love series, “Gameboys.”
This year, Elijah starred in “About Us But Not About Us”—also by Lana—which is an entry to the first ever summer edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival in April. He’s also part of the upcoming historical film, “GomBurZa.”
Now that he’s with Cornerstone, Elijah said his goal is to penetrate the mainstream and do bigger projects. “It will be a different kind of challenge to be in a big-scale project with a bigger cast … something that takes more shooting days. As an actor, I think it will be exciting to be part of something big.”
Elijah also hopes to dabble in music. “I compose my own music and I’m very much involved in producing it. I’m interested in different genres, like hip-hop and R&B. Now, my dad has introduced me to New Wave. So I have diverse taste in music. Given the chance, perhaps I can pursue music using a different name or with a different persona,” he surmised.
While he has already proven his mettle at such a young age, Elijah isn’t about to rest on his laurels. Awards are great to have, but with them come expectations. “I always feel like I have something to prove and learn. So whatever people’s expectations are of me, I will do my best to deliver,” he said.
Elijah hopes to protect his filmography as much as he can.
“At the end of the day, that’s what matters most to me—the movies you have done and how meaningful and well-crafted they are. And I’m lucky to have worked with some of the best,” he said, adding that he makes sure to consult, not only his management, but also his family, friends and girlfriend when accepting roles.
“If I feel like I won’t be proud of the project, what’s the point being in it? But now, I can say that every single thing I have done, I’m proud of. And I plan to keep it that way. But I don’t make these decisions on my own. I ask my family for guidance … even Miles,” he said. “We think about how a certain project can help my career. ‘What’s the message? How will people perceive me?’ Those are some of the things we discuss.”
If there’s one actor whose body of work inspires him, it’s the late show biz icon Eddie Garcia, whom he worked with in “Kalel, 15.” “I aspire to have a filmography like Eddie Garcia’s,” he said. “I still have a lot to prove. But I’m more confident now about my talent, about who I am and what I can do.” INQ
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