Eli Santana embraces the role alongside Kayla Contreras in Christmas Parade
■ Stacey Bailey / Contributed
The Ramona Bowl is presenting their new Alessandro, Eli Santana in the Hemet Christmas parade. He will be appearing with Kayla Contreras who has played the title character, Ramona, for the last four years. “Ramona” is presented every year in April and May and tickets are already on sale.
Eli comes to the role of Alessandro with a performing background that is in many ways as multidimensional and contrasted as the tale of Ramona itself. Having received a bachelor of arts degree from Cal State Northridge in Music Industry Studies with an emphasis in classical guitar, Eli was awarded Most Outstanding Student for his vocal work as a soloist with the CSUN Choir.
After graduation, Eli was able to embrace his love of music, with his charismatic stage presence and love of performing, when his band Holy Grail was signed to Prosthetic Records. For close to two decades, Eli’s unmatched guitar skills, vocal ability, and love of writing complex, anthemic lyrics helped propel Holy Grail to become one of the most popular Heavy Metal bands in Southern California earning them such accolades as 2016 Best Metal Act in Los Angeles by the LA Weekly and nominated for the Metal Hammer Golden Gods’ Best New Artist Award.
Holy Grail’s song “Fight to Kill” was featured in the video game Rock Band for the Xbox game system. Eli’s reputation as a performer, writer and virtuoso eventually landed him as a permanent member of the band Huntress in addition to Holy Grail.
Eli’s professional musical endeavors have facilitated touring the world with the biggest names in metal and rock. Spanning four continents and hundreds of shows, Eli has played everywhere from the intimate halls of the bar and club circuit, to playing in front of thousands at some of the world’s largest festivals (Loud Park in Japan, Download in the UK, Wacken in Germany, Soundwave in Australia, Grasspop in Belgium, Nova Rock in Austria and the Ozzfest in San Bernardino). Most recently, Eli has completed a US tour playing for Monte Pittman, Madonna’s long time guitarist.
In addition to the stage and music videos, Eli’s musical talent has paved the way to performing in a number of television commercials, selling everything from Hewlett-Packard in their Star Wars Campaign and Chicken Fries for Burger King, to the Gildan Underwear Superbowl Ad. Being on set kindled a dream Eli had, to pursue another passion he had always coveted. Acting.
After signing with Park Artist Group and studying at Clay Banks Studio International, Eli has had the opportunity to be a part of Mega-Blockbusters and Artistic Indie films alike. His film credits include Tropic Thunder, Don’t Mess with the Zohan, A Star is Born, and a couple of upcoming films. Eli’s television credits include but aren’t limited to Shameless, Lucifer, Lethal Weapon, Insecure, Animal Kingdom, Lost Gold, and most notably as a recurring member of the Ghost Nation Warriors on HBO’s Emmy-Award winning series “Westworld.”
On set, Eli was surrounded by some of the biggest names in Hollywood, the pinnacle being when he was able to share a scene with, and learn from Academy Award Winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins. Being part of the Ghost Nation Brotherhood that was forged on and off the set of Westworld, Eli’s curiosity of his own Hispanic/Native background was sparked. Thanks to “Lost Gold” and “Westworld” Eli has had the pleasure of learning some of the Apache and Lakota languages.
Being a Southern California native, Eli is excited to be part of such a rich and beautiful Californian legacy like Ramona. While reading the 1884 novel by Helen Hunt Jackson, he was amazed by all the names he grew up hearing to be given life as he read of their origins woven into the story. The tale of Ramona and Alessandro has inspired Eli to learn more about the birth of California and the plight of the Native American peoples. He is proud and excited to have been given the opportunity to portray Alessandro, and hopes to help tell that story and inspire others to dig deeper as well.
For more information about “Ramona” and the Ramona Bowl visit their website at www.ramonabowl.com, their facebook page or call 951-658-3111 ext. 103 for more information.