Shooting for a new career
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.
◗ Wally Elnour stars in the TV series Sunshine.