From the Field to the Stage: How Greg Ellis Made the Switch from the NFL to Directing

football stage play

Greg Ellis served as executive producer on “Carter High,” starring Vivica A. Fox. (Provided by Relate PR) 

Former Oakland Raiders defensive end Greg Ellis racked up 394 tackles and 84 sacks during his NFL career and now he’s traded running plays on the football field for directing stage plays. His new stage play, “Watch Night,” promises to encourage, inspire and uplift.
“When you look at a lot of things — the racial tension happening in the world today the standing and kneeling before the flag, the discrepancy of treatment between Black and caucasian offenders — this play is timely,” Ellis told Atlanta Black Star Thursday, Nov. 30.
Just in time for the holiday season comes a story about an enslaved girl, named Baby Doll, whose prayers for freedom are answered when the Emancipation Proclamation is put into effect on January 1, 1863. On New Year’s Eve that year, enslaved Africans gathered and what we know as ‘watch night’ was born.

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“We wanted people to realize what the slaves did on the first day of freedom,” Ellis said.
football stage play

“Watch Night” will run through December. (Watch Night the Play website)

The play, which Ellis is featured in, is a far cry from his days in the NFL. He said his love of football made the transition from the field to directing and producing movies difficult. But the “Carter High” executive producer said regardless of the industry, the three rules are the same.

“I tell everyone who want anything in life to first take your time to learn the rules of whatever you are doing,” Ellis said. “Whether it’s playing football, basketball, acting, directing or producing, learn the rules before you step out in it. Two, identify the tools. We all have different tools that we’ve been given in our toolbox. Yours is different from mine. [Ask yourself], ‘What tools do I have in my arsenal that will allow me to experience the level of success that I’m looking for?’ Three is for preparation. Applying the rules and tools and practice. When you practice you are constantly preparing for greatness.”

Watch Night” opens Saturday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. at Divine Faith Ministries International in Jonesboro, Ga.
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