Andre Davis Jr. knows it’s important to share how he rose from being a talented African-American teen in Memphis – who loved music and theater – to becoming an award-winning producer in Hollywood.
Davis and six other African-American producers earned a daytime Emmy Award for the short film – “The Girl in Apartment 15.”
The film portrays a writer named Devin (Marquez Williams) who thinks his neighbor Ashley (Muslima Musawwir) is being abused by her boyfriend – a timely topic given America’s rise in domestic violence.
The seven African-American men made history last summer during the virtual 48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards Show – they are the first to win for Outstanding Daytime Fiction Program since the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences added the category in 2021.
Now, Davis is urging others to focus on their dreams, especially in Memphis where he grew up in a single-parent home.
“It’s hard to obtain a lot of things from where I’m from,” said Davis about his goals during a recent interview by Dr. Moshe Lewis on the YouTube channel, Film and Medicine.
“I was motivated by seeing people do things that I hadn’t seen other people do. It inspired me to want something – a lot more than what you can get from where I’m from.”
In Memphis, Davis was fired from a service job he’d held for five years – a shocking and stressful experience since he had bills to pay.
Luckily, he landed a telecommunications job at a local AT&T store.
Later, Davis transferred to a store in San Francisco, moving him closer to where he dreamed of being, Los Angeles (LA).
AT&T promoted Davis to a job in LA where he met other television and film enthusiasts.
There, Davis connected with Dr. Louis Deon Jones, a writer/producer he met through social media.
Jones assembled a team of talent (including Davis) for film projects.
Davis started out acting for Jones, then began interviewing strangers about timely topics for Jones’ Facebook shows. Finding relevant topics led to Davis becoming an executive producer.
“You want to do stuff people can relate to,” said Davis.
“Once you do things that people can relate to – and they see it – then it’s like ‘oh wow,’ people don’t feel alone. They’re like, ‘I can relate to this because I went through that.’”
Davis says inspiration for topics comes from “knowing what’s going on in the Black community” and striving to deliver a better understanding of the challenges.
Other films Davis has produced include “Cycles” – a story on mental health suggesting that it’s acceptable and helpful to pursue therapy when needed.
Lewis asked Davis about the uncertainties of leaving his hometown for California.
“It’s really about what you want,” Davis said.
“It’s about evaluating your life, looking at the people in your life and looking at the things that you’re doing (to succeed).”
“Making it out of my hometown is such a huge accomplishment, but to win an Emmy still has me lost for words.”
At an early age, the rising film producer, actor, songwriter, artist and model seemed destined to blend his talents and inspire others.
He says playing school sports developed his competitive spirit, even into his career.
“I was a great student and loved sports,” he said.
“Whatever I do, I’m going to be the best at it.”
Go-getter Davis played football and ran track in Memphis at Mitchell Middle School and at Horn Lake Middle in Mississippi.
He then played football and ran track at Horn Lake High.
At 17, Davis realized his love for music – and by 22 – he was performing at Memphis venues, including Minglewood Hall and The New Daisy Theater.
Staying focused despite rejections
Davis is on a path to advance his television and film career, record more music and sharpen his acting skills.
However, he notes that success – so far – hasn’t come easy.
He’s submitted creative works that never panned out.
A grateful Davis grew a “thick skin” and committed to creating more meaningful projects.
“You get a lot of ‘noes’ before you get a ‘yes,’” he said.
“Just because someone tells you ‘no’ doesn’t mean you can’t be great. This (Emmy Award) gives you reassurance that anything you want is possible.
“You ‘can’ have it.”