The Netflix original movie, 13: The Musical, which premiered August 12, 2022, stars Eli Golden in his first lead role. The 14-year-old actor said he hopes showing off his singing and dance moves lands him on Broadway.
SFA: How have you been successful in your career?
ELI: Hard work! I want everyone around me to know and feel that I am putting 100% in all the time. I study other actors and what they do, and try to be meticulous about learning and developing my craft.
SFA: Do you remember when you first began to stutter?
ELI: I don't really remember because it started when I was very young, I think I was about 3 years old. Although everyone told my mom not to be concerned and that I’d grow out of it, my stutter became more evident and caused me a lot of frustration, so she sought support.
Does it run in your family? Who else stutters?
ELI: I know that it often runs in families, but from what we know I am the only stutterer in my family.
Did you seek treatment? Did it help?
ELI: Yes, fortunately my parents got me early intervention. I was in speech therapy twice a week for almost three years. I learned tools that helped me, and continue to help me, stutter less and manage my frustration when I stutter while speaking.
Tell us about your experience with stuttering as a child.
ELI: As I mentioned, it started when I was very young and I had a lot of trouble starting sentences. The “wh" and “I” sounds were particularly difficult for me. My speech therapist, Elena Caffentzis, played games with me and helped me recognize that there were ways I could work with my stutter and around my stutter. She gave my parents and I homework and we practiced being a little more methodical about my speaking.
Has your stuttering gotten worse or better since you were younger? How?
For the most part, I don't stutter much anymore, although there are still moments when I do. I find that I tend to stutter more when I am going through a transitional period, or if I’m really excited or nervous.
How does stuttering affect you in your career?
Thankfully, I find it easy when reading lines! The words are already there for me so I don't have to come up with the thought and actually speak, I just get to say what is already on the page. For whatever reason, I never stuttered when I sang, so stuttering has gratefully never affected that aspect of my speech.
How is your stuttering today? What do you do to control or manage it, if anything?
I have good fluency now, however I did stutter more during the pandemic. I checked in with my speech therapist and she gave me good reminders. One of the things we spoke about is to elongate my words and speak a little slower. New York moves quickly and New Yorkers speak quickly, and my parents are both really fast talkers, so we’ve all had to learn to slow it down.
What are the biggest challenges stuttering has presented to you?
The biggest challenge for me is the frustration I feel when trying to get my thought out. I’m super communicative, so not being able to start/finish a sentence the way I hear it in my head can be frustrating.
What is your greatest accomplishment with regard to stuttering?
I am able to work as an actor while having a stutter.
Based upon your experiences, what would you like to tell children who stutter?
It is ok! I know it sounds cliché but be you! Don’t let the stutter define you because it doesn’t and never will. YOU define YOU.
Based upon your experiences, what would you tell parents of children who stutter?
You need to have patience and understanding. Let children take their time and get the thought out for themselves. Don't speak for them, even if their voice is bumpy, because it’s their voice and it needs to be heard. Treat them with compassion and love no matter what.
What else should we know?
I have an EP coming out very soon, and you can stream my song “Back To Me” on all streaming services now!
I am from New York, I live in New York.
I am an actor and a singer/songwriter.
I live with my mom, dad, my sister, Lilah, and my two very silly and very adorable dogs.
Hobbies, Interests, Passions:
I love singing, acting, gaming, exercising, and playing/writing music
I’m lucky because many of my hobbies and passions are the same. I love acting, singing, playing piano and guitar, writing, and traveling. So far, I’ve been to Europe, Indonesia, Mexico, and Canada, as well as all over the US.
From the Fall 2022 Magazine