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Canadian actor Eli Goree stars as Derricks Mayers in USA’s drama series PEARSON opposite Gina Torres, Bethany Joy Lenz, Morgan Spector, and Chantel Riley.
Born and raised in Halifax, Canada, Goree started his acting career at the age of six in Sesame Park—the Canadian version of Sesame Street.
Goree has also starred in HBO’s Ballers, as Malik in Da Kink in My Hair (2007-09), and the post-apocalyptic drama show, THE 100 (2014-17).
We caught up with the actor to talk about his new show and what it’s like working with some of Hollywood’s greats. Check out the interview below.
The Shadow League: For those who haven’t watched tell us a little about PEARSON and your character Derrick Mayers.
Eli Goree: PEARSON basically picks up where Gina Torres’ character from Suits left off. She goes to Chicago and leaves the corporate world of New York corporate law and basically tries to reconnect with her roots in Chicago with her family there and with you know all the things that she kind of left behind and quickly discovers that the people that are connected to her are being exploited by the city and by the system that they are living in South Side Chicago and basically their neighborhoods are being gentrified.
So, she decides that she can take some of the skills that she has and apply them to help them overcome their issues. She basically gets brought into being the fixer for the mayor of city hall and realized that there’s a lot of seedy political backroom kind of underbelly going on within the city politics. And my character, I played a press secretary to the mayor of Chicago, so I started out in use and I quickly get plucked almost from obscurity to basically go in and be the voice of this regime.
And I go into it thinking I might be able to make a difference but quickly I realize that here’s a conflict of interest because these people are not necessarily good people. And I’m having to represent them and so I’m having kind of a crisis of character.
TSL: You’ve appeared in lots of popular shows aside from PEARSON, including HBO’s Ballers—What was it like working with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?
E.G.: You know I feel like the situation with Ballers was such a great opportunity getting to be on a show on a network like HBO where everything is just done at the highest level. If you’re working with the best every day, with the best directors of photography, the best episode directors, the best writers and then obviously directing the biggest movie star in the world right now. It’s really a great learning experience to see how he operates. How he carried himself on that show and how he prepares for the scene.
You know I pick his brain all the time and he loves to joke around, and you know he’s just an all-around just solid guy. But he also is very focused, and everything is planned out. So, I got a lot from that. And then one of the main things that I always say when I’m talking about Gina and The Rock is just the little details that they pay attention to.
TSL: What is some of the best advice you’ve received coming up in the industry?
E.G.: Not counting your chickens before they hatch, you know, like a lot of times you’ll get offers for a roll or pegged to do something and then you know funding will drop after the project or they’re going in a different direction or you know you’re just really taking everything one step at a time and realizing that there are no overnight successes that really it’s a lot of work overtime.
Even like someone like The Rock, for instance, you know was five years in the CFL, four years at the University of Miami, ten years in the WWE, another ten years doing films that no one really ever heard of for him to be where he is now.
It’s a lot of hard work and it’s a process. You just have to really embrace it as a process. And I think that some of the advice I got I remember a Canadian comedian and actor who had success as well. [He] told me it took him eight years just to really get the ball rolling.
I’m grateful that I started very young. I started when I was six years old. So, it helps but there are no shortcuts.
TSL: If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?
E.G.: Honestly, I’d probably be a preacher. You know I do preach [there] sometimes you know with the young adult and stuff like that. And I’m heavily involved with the ministry and doing stuff with the AIDS walk in L.A. As well as in our communities. We did a health day at our church. We feed the homeless and that’s a really big passion of mine. It’s just really being in touch with the community and then preaching you know as far as we’re just spreading the love of Jesus Christ and so that that’s kind of more priority and probably when I retire, I would do something like that.
TSL: Are there any other projects you’re working on?
E.G.: I mean I do a lot of standup in L.A. I did the comedy bunker last month before I started shooting on Riverdale for season four. PEARSON is out right now on USA Network so you can watch that. Riverdale will be premiering I think in late December or early October. and I’m waiting to hear back right now about a potential feature film role for 2020 as well. Can’t say too much on that but really hopeful. Other than that just follow me on Instagram at TheRealEliGoree. I’m always posting things on there.
You can catch Eli on PEARSON, Wednesdays on USA Networks and on the upcoming season of Riverdale also on Wednesdays at 8PM EST only on The CW.