French-lebanese actor, businessman, and entrepreneur Elliot Haddaway is exhausted (like most people) from the overwhelming “bullshit” eclipsing much of Los Angeles’s entertainment industry. But rather than stand idle, he’s utilizing his experience and strong work ethic developed as a successful businessman to circumvent his way around it.
During his years at college, while working towards his second degree in business at ESCP (one of the leading business schools in France), Haddaway first realized the joys of performing. He began auditioning for dancing roles, and by the time he wrapped up his business degree, he had been a part of several French plays and musicals. After he graduated in 2000, Haddaway continued to balance his career as an investment banker (a successful one at that), with his passion for performing. Catching his first big breaks, Haddaway performed as a dancer at the Bataclan theatre in the French remake of Notre Dame de Paris ("Paris la Belle") in 2001, as well as the Palais des Congres theatre in a production of Les Miserables in 2002.
Having had his fill of the theatre, Haddaway decided he wanted to pursue acting and began taking night classes at the Cours Florent— one of the most established drama school’s in France. And although he was happiest when acting, juggling both careers became increasingly difficult.
“I had to make a painful decision. To be able to have a shot at auditioning and rehearsing and competing in the market, I decided to quit my daily job,” says Haddaway.
He revealed that his adjustment back into student life wasn’t smooth, but it was the right decision. His time at Cours Florent taught him the essentials he needed to become a prolific actor, that were years later cultivated in more practical avenues (in terms of his acting ambitions) under the instruction of Bobbie Chance at the Hollywood Actor’s Showcase in Los Angeles.
“With Bobbie Chance we were putting into practice specific scenes that were useful to the specific project I was going to do. It was more practical,” remembers Haddaway.
Since moving to Los Angeles to further pursue his acting career, Haddaway hasn’t wasted anytime. In fact, what truly sets him apart is his calculated and straight-forward approach to the acquisition of his roles.
“I take a business approach to selling myself as a talent, so I do not audition: I have a discussion,” reveals Haddaway.
An actor not needing to audition? Seems ridiculous. But for Haddaway, it isn’t.
“I do not have an agent or manager, I do not need them. I have two things: I have a good [entertainment] lawyer that can introduce me to [the right] people… and a good publicist. I do not need an agent to sell me. I can sell myself.”
He understands the power behind first impressions in face-to-face interactions and so he made a point of perfecting this skill.
“I tell them who I am, tell them what I can do, my background, where I would like to be, I show them the passion and [sell] the skills that I have.”
And most of the time, it works.
“Whenever I can get a face-to-face with a casting director or producer my success rate is about 75%. All these movies [and other roles] that I got were all one-on-one.”
The year 2015 marked one of his bigger successes for Haddaway in landing the starring role of Owen Maxwell, a successful businessman and tireless womanizer in the film Love Addict, which was featured at the Cannes Film Festival and won an LA Comedy of the Year Award. Following the later half of 2016 segueing into 2017, Haddaway has lined up a slew of roles in various movie and television productions—some leading, others reoccurring.
When asked about the roles he gravitates towards the most, he explained that he although he loves all of his roles, he gets most excited for the action and historical performances. In the powerful drama, the Opera of Little Hans, Haddaway is playing one of the main roles as a WWII Nazi General. He believes this movie will have a reaching impact and great box office numbers.
He also spoke enthusiastically about the movie centered around the true story of the oldest American outlaw and gunfighter, John Wesley Hardin, in the movie The Hour of Gun, which will be Haddaway’s first western. He also mentioned that he will be apart of the long-awaited biopic of Jazz extraordinaire Miles Davis, which he says will be directed by Denzel Washington.
Touching upon the subject of how Haddaway prepares for his roles, he revealed that he draws upon various resources. He researches his characters (especially the historical ones); including any key points in their background, specific mannerisms, and behavior. He looks to previous movies, not to mimic, but to draw inspiration and gain insight as to what has been done before, so that he may create something anew. He asks questions of his producers and directors, but also makes sure to come to his every set with an open mind.
“Sometimes it’s much better you come fresh and don’t have any pre-judgements about the role. You let the director tell you and guide you because if you come too prepared, and you have our own idea about how the character is, and how you think these things should be said, and how this scene should be shot; and then director wants something completely different, it’s so hard to go back and do it from scratch.”
Today Haddaway is still juggling his time, both as an actor and a stock-market investor, but now (as if his schedule wasn’t loaded enough) as a developer to help promote healthcare for women and children in emerging countries.
“What we do is talk to governments and private investors and try to get some cheap land to build advanced health care centers, like hospitals and clinics to address a specific need in the market.”
Although Haddaway does not devote 100% of his time to acting, he knows that that way he’s going about it is unique to the industry. So long as he can, he will continue pursue his beloved acting ambitions.
“The work is what I do with the stock market and what I do when i’m building hospitals and when I’m having meetings with lawyers and engineers and bankers: that’s work. This is fun, and I’m very fortunate.”