Shoot­ing for a new ca­reer

Daily Mercury - - WEEKEND - with Seanna Cronin

WALLY El­nour never imag­ined his love of bas­ket­ball would lead to tele­vi­sion. The ac­ci­den­tal ac­tor makes his de­but next week in SBS crime drama Sun­shine, play­ing South Su­danese-born NBA hope­ful Ja­cob Garang.

“When I first saw my­self on the big screen it was kind of emo­tional,” Wally tells Week­end.

“I never thought I would be do­ing some­thing like this.” When Sun­shine’s pro­duc­tion team dis­trib­uted fly­ers at a na­tional bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment where he was play­ing, Wally had no am­bi­tions to be on the small screen – at least not as an ac­tor.

“I didn’t pay no mind to it. I didn’t think it was rel­e­vant to what I was do­ing,” he says.

“I was in the process of try­ing to travel back to Amer­ica so I could play bas­ket­ball. A cou­ple of weeks later I had a mes­sage on Face­book telling me I was rec­om­mended to go and au­di­tion, so I went with a cou­ple of friends.”

Land­ing the role, Wally was thrust into a com­pletely new in­dus­try. He be­lieves be­ing a novice helped him de­liver a gen­uine per­for­mance op­po­site vet­er­ans An­thony LaPaglia (as for­mer bas­ket­ball player Ed­die) and Me­lanie Lynskey (as lawyer Zara).

“I didn’t know who An­thony LaPaglia was un­til I was told. I didn’t know who Me­lanie was ei­ther,” Wally says.

“Yeah, it helped my nerves ... all the bas­ket­ball stuff came nat­u­ral to me.”

In the six-part thriller, Ja­cob’s fu­ture hangs in the bal­ance when he’s drawn into a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Po­lice are hunt­ing down the per­pe­tra­tor of a vi­o­lent as­sault, which has left a teenage girl in a coma and a group of young men fight­ing for their in­no­cence.

The story hits close to home for Wally.

“My char­ac­ter and I are very sim­i­lar. We have the same dream of go­ing to Amer­ica and play­ing bas­ket­ball,” he says. “What’s on the show, I’ve been through it in real life. “I hope they (view­ers) take away a new per­spec­tive of us (Su­danese mi­grants).”

So is a ca­reer in the NBA on the back burner?

“I’m in a con­flict (right now) of do­ing act­ing and pur­su­ing a bas­ket­ball ca­reer,” Wally says.

“I would like to do both things if I can. If I have to choose then I’ll choose bas­ket­ball.”

Sun­shine pre­mieres on SBS on Wed­nes­day at 8.30pm.

PHOTO: SBS

Wally El­nour stars in the TV se­ries Sun­shine.

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