BY ASHLEY MOTT
Walking into The Cauldron office, Elie Haoui had an air of quiet confidence about him that met the relaxed environment with ease. From his handshake to his hello, the 18-year-old marketing major looked comfortable in his own skin, with a grace that many still have yet to master.
Joining the 2018 freshman class Haoui is a first year student who was making waves as soon as he arrived on campus. Whispers of “did you see the guy who can do magic” and “woah that was cool” could be heard on campus within a week of arriving here.
He’s made live show appearances at the T-Murph Comedy show, hosted by the Campus Activities Board (CAB), and Fenn Tower of Terror, a collaboration between Residence Life and CAB. With his growing fanbase, Haoui has made many student gasp in awe at the wondrous tricks he provides them.
Growing up outside of Cleveland in a city called Columbia Station, Haoui has loved magic since the age of four, and it all started with a magic kit that his mother bought him. If you can imagine a 4-year-old running around showing adults magic, then that’s a pretty accurate picture of his life at that age.
With “ooohs” and “aahs” being chorused from adults in his family, his confidence as a child grew, and he began to practice magic more and more everyday, until he was good enough to do many tricks successfully.
Fast forward four years later, and you will hear the tale of how he saw magician Rick Smith Jr. at “Boo at the Zoo.” An ecstatic volunteer, Haoui was ready to jump on stage then and perform for people. It was that night that cemented his love of magic even more. His love of magic came from the sense of awe that it gave people who were watching.
“Truthfully, every magician likes to do magic because as a kid they saw magic somewhere, and they were like ‘woah,’ and they wanted to give other people that [same] sense of wonderment and awe,” Haoui said, commenting on his own experience as a kid with magic.
What really sealed the deal for Haoui and his love of magic was the smile that he brought to a young girl’s face in the summer between 8th grade and freshman year of highschool. He had been in physical therapy after knee surgery to repair his ACL and MCL after an injury when he met a girl who was going through chemotherapy for cancer.
Looking back, Haoui remembers how his physical therapist always let him show them magic tricks, until one day, they said go show her, pointing to the girl battling for her life. He walked over there and started doing tricks, seeing the smile light up on her face as she continued to ask for more and more tricks.
“She told me that this was ‘The happiest I’ve been in so long,” Haoui reminisced.
He commented on how he had been worried about his life, his parents divorce and so many other things until he realized that this girl was fighting to live and he could give her a chance to smile again.
“I realized the power that magic has. When you show someone magic it completely takes their mind off of everything that they are going through in that moment,” Haoui said. “It makes people happy, even when it makes you confused and sad, it makes you happy.”
Now he is making people happy everywhere in his own shows, where he features various genres of magic including his favorite: mind-reading. He studied under Smith Jr. at the age of 16, a few years after they met when he was 8, and is now on tour with him. Haoui adds that he didn’t even put together that he and Smith Jr. had met years before until his mom pulled out the video from that day.
Looking back he realizes just how awesome it is to have gone from a fan, to touring with Smith Jr. and now to having him as his manager. All of this is a giant step towards continuing with his goals for his career, ending in retirement from the magic field once he is old and grey.
While he wants to eventually become the first multi-billionaire magician, start his own magic kits, perform at a casino he owns in Vegas and own a chair of hotels, Haoui is okay with just doing what he loves for right now.
While he is facing challenges adjusting to being in college he seems to be doing okay.
“College, is hard for me. It’s going well for me, but my biggest challenge is … being normal,” Haoui said sadly.
While being well known on campus is great for his career, he finds it difficult to know who his real friends are among all those who just want a few minutes of fame with him. He stays away from publicity topics in public and on social media because, at the end of the day, he wants to make real friends too.
“It’s weird how many people you can’t trust, how many people who don’t want you for you, they want you for everything else,” Haoui said sadly. “I want them to know me.”
While his 202,000 followers are important to him, he cherishes those close friends he has at the end of the day too, though he lives by the sentiment to just make people happy.
“It’s never been about money for me, it was always about magic,” Haoui said. “I want to do it for the rest of my life and make people happy.”
Originally Published on The Cauldron.