An acting veteran in 'Hollywood North', her extensive film and television credits include critically acclaimed and award-winning productions from MGM, CTV, Fox, Warner Bros, NBC Universal, The CW, and ABC. After several years focused on film and television, in 2005 Elissa returned to the stage with the original contemporary ballet,'BruK'. Written, directed and produced by Elissa and mounted at the Beaumont Theater in Vancouver, the highly acclaimed run was sold out before opening night. Her career in front of the camera naturally progressed to more prominent roles behind the lens as a filmmaker.
As an interdisciplinary artist - photo essayist, visual artist, writer and filmmaker - Elissa is motivated to tell stories that explore cross-cultural understanding and human rights through innovative yet accessible narrative and documentary films as well as photo and video essays. Her work in Africa and the Middle East contributes to her point of view, specifically the danger of the single-story narrative.
At age 16 she volunteered for SIDA/AIDS Moncton, canvassing high schools to participate in the AIDS Walk. With homophobia and a stigma with AIDS deeply ingrained in the culture no school agreed except her own, Moncton High School. 19 students including Elissa completed the AIDS Walk. While enrolled at Dalhousie University, Elissa joined Students for a Free Tibet and participated in marches and peaceful vigils.
Her first experience in a large-scale peace march was the February 15, 2003 anti-war protest. The day was a coordinated day of global protest and is still held, to this day, as one of the largest protest events in human history. The day was a significant marker in understanding the power of interconnectedness, a unified voice, and grassroots mobilization.
As a youth mentor for over 9 years, she has volunteered with various organizations working with at-risk and special needs children. She has had the honour of being an in-class volunteer for vulnerable children in both Vancouver and South Central Los Angeles classrooms.
As the founder of Caleb’s Hope, Elissa worked with refugee women and children in Atiak region of Northern Uganda – widows, former child soldiers, sex slaves, PLWHA, and child headed households. With the ongoing assistance of local leaders and experts, they developed the Atiak Women’s Business Group; a women’s social enterprise group focused on sustainable economic independence and child welfare and education. AWBG currently focuses on farming as their sustainable industry of choice with many having dreams to expand their farming productions while others use funds to complete school or plan to use profits as start-up capital for other business endeavors.
Unfortunately the deeply flawed and oppressive colonial structure of most foreign aid in Africa has systematically led to an inevitable unhealthy co-dependency between western charities and their developing nation recipients, despite the best of intentions. Because of this reality, Caleb’s Hope could no longer, in good conscience, continue programs in Atiak. All programs were completed, fulfilling the NGOs promise in Atiak in 2014.