A Fort Collins native is set to appear in Disney’s TV adaptation of the 2018 film “Love, Simon.”

The teen in question, Tarik Ellinger, first started acting when he was 6 years old, shortly after his family picked up from Fort Collins and moved to Los Angeles. Once there, Tarik saw one of his older sisters, Temara Melek, get started on her own show business career, which spurred him to do the same.

Temara’s been involved in shows such as “Legacies,” “Westworld,” and “The Vampire Diaries,” and Tarik’s been working on his building his own acting resume with roles in an advertisement for Nickelodeon’s new game show “The Crystal Maze” and a DreamWorks music video for the “Trolls” franchise.

 

 

 

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But now Tarik, who’s in 10th grade, is set to take on his largest role yet in “Love, Simon.” If you’re not familiar with the story (which you should definitely read and/or watch; it’s really good if YA’s your thing), “Love, Simon” follows the story of a closeted gay boy whose email correspondence with another boy he’s started to fall in love with is used to blackmail him. Drama ensues. And if that doesn’t quite sound like the plot of an adorable love story, you’re right— And yet, “Love, Simon” pulls it off anyway. But in all seriousness, both the film and the book deal with issues of identity, courage, and respect with a lot of heart, and I’m sure the series will be no different.

Tarik will be playing Ethan, a new boy at the high school where the show is set, who is working on getting used to his new surroundings while also questioning his sexuality. As for Tarik, he’s delighted about taking the role. As he reported to the Coloradoan, "It feels amazing [to be a part of the show]. I mean, my dream is to become a successful actor and to just be a part of Disney. It's just awesome."

 

 

 

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As a child who never quite got to the “actor” part of child actor, I’m deeply impressed that Tarik’s chasing his dreams with dedication. His goal (for now) is to be in “Stranger Things 4” and he’s even gotten to meet the shows’ creators, The Duffer Brothers. If all goes well, maybe we’ll get to see a FoCo native solving mysteries and fighting monsters on Netflix.

In the meantime, we’ll be able to see Tarik’s Disney debut in 2020, where the show will be premiering on Disney’s anticipated streaming platform, Disney+. His Fort Collins relations will be watching right along with us, too, as Tarik’s other older sister, niece, uncle and grandma still call Northern Colorado home.

So, good on you, Tarik! We’re looking forward to seeing you on the small screen. And to everyone else: I double-dog dare you to call the Nickelodeon phone number for child actor recruitment, if you want to. Do it. Live your dreams. Be like Tarik.