‘In my opinion art is about holding a mirror up to society, it’s a tool for healing, growth and cultural change as well as entertainment.’


Hey Elander, it's great to connect with you. Could you tell us a little about yourself? who you are, where you're from and what do you do?

Hey whats up! Im Elander- I’m a 25 year old actor, writer and creative from East London. I trained in musical theatre at The Urdang Academy and have since worked on stage in plays like Inua Ellams “Barber Shop Chronicles” and Laura Wades “The Watsons” as well as on TV for shows on BBC and ITV. I started posting little poems I’d written on instagram in lockdown and my journey as a writer sort of started from there I guess.  

Apart from your brilliant spoken word, what other types of creativity inspire you?

I’m trying not to sound cliche here but honestly I’m inspired by everything. I grew up in quite a working class environment so the theatre wasn’t really something I discovered until later. It was television and film that was my real first introduction to the arts, everything from Disney to nightly doses of Eastenders and Coronation Street. I’ve always been interested in the working class voice and the story of the underdog as well as conversations on race and sexuality. I’m really into musical theatre especially Stephen Sondheim but at the same time I love Mike Skinner and The Streets so I’m inspired by a lot. Right now I’m loving Michaela Coles “I May Destroy You” plays by Roy Williams, Mike Bartlett and David Aldridge and I’m a big fan of Jessie Buckleys work as an actress, she’s killing it. 

So the original idea was to create these short spoken word monologues which are delivered directly to camera and explore themes of identity and Britishness –  sort of little “state of the nation” addresses. Both this film and the first one “The Ballad of Joe Bloggs” were filmed by the amazing Chris West with Sound and edit by Lee Glasscock. We took a lot of style inspo from Allan Bennett’s “talking heads” from the 80’s and more recently Phoebe waller bridges “Fleabag.” The inspiration for this short came from just watching my family and how much they love tea! When ever someone comes over or something bad happens the first thing they do is put the kettle on – it dawned on me that this most British of traditions is not actually British at all, as tea leaves were brought here from India and are actually left over examples of our colonial past, so it felt like a good topic. I also really wanted to try doing a northern accent and Tyke is a word my grandad used to use to describe Yorkshire men so it all sort of fit haha. 

The U.K is a fractured place right now, which is highlighted by your words. What more has to be done for equality & do you think that we will ever see it?

I’m not going to lie, right now it does feel like the worlds ending. Social media is a great thing but it has also done a lot to polarise us and drive us more to extreme views on both sides. As a mixed heritage young person I’m really interested in finding middle ground and starting conversations that will help bring us closer together, I think thats the only way we’re gonna move forward as a nation.  On the bright side though, if you look at the past it’s clear that change is inevitable, it’s not a case of if things will change it’s just a case of when. Our leaders and systems of government have failed us, that’s pretty obvious but young people are more mobilised and passionate than ever so I see a lot of positivity there. In terms of what needs to change – Im no politician but in my opinion the mega rich NEED to pay their fair share of tax, our education systems should teach the WHOLE truth about our past and REAL diversity in the creative sector means – black casting directors, black agents and black camera men and women – we want to see diversity on and off screen please! I could go on but I won’t.. So in answer to your question, yes, change is coming.

What other projects do you have planned for the future? (if you don't want to say that's fine)

What’s been really inspiring during this year of Covid-19 is how young creatives have taken things into their own hands and started making their own stuff. I just wrapped on a project with my friends dance collective KZ Creatives which is a modern day re-telling of Romeo and Juliet told through dance and poetry which we wrote, choreographed and commissioned all by ourselves. I’m also getting my first monologue published in a new book curated by Rikki Beadle-blair called “lit speeches” which is audition speeches written by and created for under represented voices. So even though theatres are closed and acting work is scarce right now, we are making it work ha.  



You have a cheeky and sarcastic style of writing that we find very endearing. Did finding a style of your own come naturally or is it something you focus on working at?

Thats very kind of you! I was obsessed with Roald Dahl growing up- his wit, humour and way of communicating complex issues to children was fascinating to me. I think my style kind of comes from that, I also realised that I found a lot of spoken word quite alienating – personally I don’t think a poem always needs to be  be a show of how many big words you can pronounce or how many metaphors you can fit into a sentence – For me it’s all about anyone and everyone being able to understand the message, so I thought I’d give it a go. It took me a long time to be confident in my voice though and it’s something I’m still working on every day.  


Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Honestly? Right now I’d say just to be in a room with more than 6 socially distanced people and to never have to hear the word “Covid” again would be a dream haha! No, in truth I really just want to keep telling story and entertaining people forever man. I would love to work at the Royal Court and The National Theatre one day,  I’d also really like to write for TV and maybe write a musical at some point too but who knows. If I can just keep meeting talented people and exploring the world, I’ll be a happy boy. 


We need more people speaking out about injustices through art like yourself, what is some advice you can give people who have a voice but don't know how to use it?

I’m still working on finding my voice as a writer so I don’t feel fully qualified yet but one thing I can say is as soon as I stopped trying to be like other people and started being specific and honest about my experiences and perspective it all began to click. In my opinion art is about holding a mirror up to society, it’s a tool for healing, growth and cultural change as well as entertainment. If we only ever get work thats from certain demographics or the same points of view were never going to move forward, so be brave and tell your story because I bet you someone out there needs to hear it. I’d also say, see as much of other peoples work as you can- go to the theatre ( when they open lol) watch films, Tick Tok’s, adverts. Find inspiration in anything and everything and use it in your work! 



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