Over the course of a few short years, Elijah Canlas has become one of the most promising young actors in the Philippines. Notably, with his award-winning work in movies and roles in series, the 20-year-old actor has turned into a marquee idol overnight—not to mention a heartthrob and an inspiration to the eyes of many.
With his heart for the arts, Elijah’s unparalleled talents and bigger than life persona are a breath of refresh air. He has only been in the spotlight for a few moments, but he already cemented his place in the industry. This young actor has been thriving in so many ways —and he is just starting. (Read: Pinoy Celebs Start Initiatives to Help Typhoon Victims)
In an exclusive interview with My Pope Philippines, Elijah shares his views on life and takes us deeper into his world in front of the camera.
Born for the Arts
Born in Bacolod City and raised in Cavite City, Elijah or “Jelo” to his family and friends started acting at an early age of five. “I started doing it [acting] when I was five, sa school ko sa Cavite. Since then, naenjoy ko na siya. Naenjoy ko yung company of being in a theater group,” Elijah says. (LOOK: Pinoy Celebs Give Honor to Their Favorite Teachers)
At the age of 12, the young actor got a scholarship at Philippine High School for the Arts Laguna where he further honed his talents. “When I studied there, I enjoyed naman yung acting at yung arts. But I was more competitive because I was trying to keep high grades and stay in the school. I fell in love with it because I got to learn about myself even more and I enjoyed that,” he says.
Eventually, more opportunities for acting opened up to Elijah, and today at age 20, he is now considered one of the most promising young actors in the country.
A Promising Artist
In the first half of 2020, while the country was under the strict enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19, Elijah and another promising actor Kokoy De Santos starred in the first-ever Filipino Boys Love (BL) series, Gameboys. The project that started on YouTube became an instant hit in the Philippines, that it will even have a Level Up Edition streamed on Netflix on December 30!
In the series, Elijah proved that he has what it takes to be the next big thing in the industry. He portrayed his character “Cairo” with ease and effectiveness, gaining him fans not just in the Philippines but also in the USA, Europe, and several countries in Asia.
But aside from GameBoys, Elijah has already done a handful of independent movies over the past years and even landed multiple awards in various film festivals. (Read: 5 Must-Watch Movies Starring Elijah Canlas) His most notable project so far is Kalel, 15, a coming of age film directed by Jun Robles Lana where Elijah earned the Best Actor awards at the 17th Asian Film Festival in Rome, Italy, and the recently concluded Gawad Urian Awards.
“I really enjoy making independent films kasi it is more about the art. Mas ramdam mo yung passion ng mga tao,” he shares.
Wise at Age 20
Elijah’s star has only started rising, but this young actor already has a lot of valuable lessons to share from his years of experience and training in acting. He shares with My Pope Philippines some of these. (Read: 5 Life Lessons Millennials Can Learn From ‘Emily in Paris’)
Be on time. Elijah believes that a good actor is not only defined by his skills and talent, but also by the way he/she interacts with and respects the people around him. He recalls a nugget of knowledge the late great actor Eddie Garcia taught him, “Always give value to everyone’s time other than yourself. Kasi hindi lang naman ikaw yung nag trabaho.”
Listen. More than the talent, Elijah says listening also comes in very handy when working in an industry such as showbusiness. “Make it a hobby to learn how to listen to whoever you’re talking to or whoever is talking kasi marami ka talagang matutunan,” he says.
Empathize. As an actor who’s been portraying controversial characters in a rather conservative country such as the Philippines, Elijah says it’s important for him to keep an open mind and stay empathetic.
“Empathy. That’s the word I live by,” he says. “You have to know that this is a real-world you’re living in, and these are real stories you’re going to portray… Everyone is going through something in their own right, in their own lives,” he added.