LIMA — Lima native Anthony Ellis has been trying to make a name for himself in the rapping, modeling and acting world for more than 10 years. With the help of a famous friend, Ellis may just now have that chance.
Ellis noticed actor Richard Pryor Jr. comment on mutual friend Burgandy William’s Facebook page following one of Williams’ performances on the TV show “X Factor.” He decided to take a chance and reach out to Pryor.
Now, Pryor has brought Ellis onto his current project, the TV series “The D.O.C”. The show has yet to begin filming, but Ellis is in talks with creator Robin K. Miller to have a recurring role on the show and help with the series soundtrack.
“I seen that Richard Pryor Jr. had commented and I was like, ‘That’s Richard Pryor, get out of here.’ So I sent him a friend request,” Ellis said. “One of my pages is maxed out and the other is almost maxed out, so I sent him the friend request and I had deleted somebody to make sure I could add him. He added me on Facebook and then we started chopping it up — we started talking about life and stuff like that.”
After cultivating a friendship, Pryor invited Ellis, who raps under the name King Tainium, to perform at one of his screenings in Saginaw, Michigan.
“I think it was almost like when you find someone that’s a kindred spirit — someone who has gone through a lot of things in their life and everything like that as well as I had. I think I could identify and just be there as a listening ear,” explained Pryor via FaceTime with The Lima News. “I thought he was amazing. When it came to a point where I could say, ‘If there was anything I could to in order to let you know that you are valuable and that you’re really talented,’ that’s what I was going to do.”
The show is described as a prison drama detailing a female combat veteran who goes undercover as a correctional officer after her sister’s body is found in a prison Dumpster. It is expected to be released later this year. Miller created the series based on her personal experiences working as a corrections officer at Rikers Island, one of New York City’s largest prisons.
“I just think he’s talented, I think he has some untapped potential,” Pryor said. “Sometimes people don’t know themselves and what they’re capable of doing, but somebody on the outside can actually see that, and I saw it was a really good fit as far as what the show was about and that he would be a great fit for the actual show.”
Ellis said they are talking about a recurring role for him in the series.
“I’d likely be one of the main people that’s incarcerated,” he explained. “It depends on how well I do. Sometimes, you gotta kill off a character, everybody bombs sometimes, but that’s not what I’m shooting at, I think I’ll be around for a while, I’m pretty good.”
Ellis has also been asked by Miller to help out with the series soundtrack, both with vocals and production. His most successful song was “You Don’t Want It” in 2010 from the album “DJ Green Lantern Presents Dirty Invasion Vol. 1”.
Ellis grew up in and out of foster homes in Lima before going to live with his father in Mississippi. At the age of 16, he emancipated himself, moved back to Lima and went on to earn his GED. That’s the point at which he turned to music and learned how to produce beats on a PlayStation program.
As he was pulling up Pryor’s personal phone number to FaceTime him in his interview with The Lima News, Pryor was still in disbelief.
“It’s life, I guess,” Ellis said of his rough upbringing to where he is now. “It’s amazing now, sometimes I still wake up and I’m like ‘Am I me? Yeah I’m me, that’s what’s up.’”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.