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Monday, May 7, 2012

Actor/Activist Michael Cory Davis: Living A Life Of Passion & Purpose

by Cyrus Webb


When it comes to examples of individuals who know what they want in life and are going after it, you have to give a nod to actor and activist Michael Cory Davis.

Known to some for his roles on shows like the soap opera All My Children or on the SYFY network, Davis has gained international attention and respect because of the causes he has lent his time, energy and resources towards. In late 2010 he was enjoying the success of his latest project, the thought-provoking movie FOR COLORED GIRLS, directed by Tyler Perry.
I have a great deal of respect for Michael not just because of the way he conducts himself professionally but also because of the way he uses the gift that is the public eye to make a difference. In this conversation he discusses when he discovered his love of the arts, how he has chosen to use his celebrity when it comes to helping others and even how he views what he has been able to achieve.

Michael, thank you for taking out the time to talk with us. First of all, congratulations on your achievements on tv and in movies. I want to talk about what it was like to be a part of that project, but I first want to go back to the beginning. When did you realize that you were interested in being in the entertainment industry? Thank you for the opportunity. My parents encouraged creativity. I was involved in a lot of school plays. Growing up I also got involved in debate school. I realized early on that I always had a flair for being on stage.

Looking at what you have done so far and the projects you have been a part of, what surprises you the most about your career and how you are perceived?  What continues to surprise me is that people are surprised that I am a black man that has taken on what has been seen as a woman's cause. Let's face it, when it comes to topics like human trafficking. It tends to be more Caucasians bringing attention to it. It never ceases to amaze me how people perceive me. I welcome the surprise, because I am able to turn over the perceptions and let the world see black men are more than what pop culture says we are.
How I as an independent filmmaker has been able to do so much. I have been able to raise tens of thousands of dollars for orphanages in a country (Bulgaria) where I don't even speak the language. My accomplishments let me know there is a whole lot more that we as artists can do to change the world in a positive way because we have the microphone to do it.

You mentioned your work in Bulgaria. That is, in fact, how I first became aware of you because of your short film. For those who haven't seen it, Svetlanta's Journey is a film you wrote, directed and produced that came about because of a victim of trafficking that you met. It was a 13-year old Bulgarian girl who had basically been sold by her adoptive parents into prostitution. The project has gone on to not only win awards but aired on national television in Bulgaria. What did you take away from that project regarding how we in the United States view issues like that?  I would say how ambivalent we sometimes are. If people are looking at children as commodities, that's a problem. If we have a society that has been victimized because they are not getting the services they need to heal, that's a problem. People don't speak enough about it,  especially in the black community. I think that's why more haven't taken on the cause. At the end of the day it deals with a form of slavery, and we should know about it and care about it. I do understand, though, that alot of the apathy about the subject is because alot of us are so focused on our own problems.

Michael you are in a business that is covered from all angles, both the good and the bad. What are your thoughts about the 24-hour news cycle and the public's desire to know so much about celebrities?What's happened in society today is that we have made the internet a loaded gun. People learn things and share things instantly. What's worse is that you have people who make money off what goes wrong in an individual's life. I don't know why it is that whenever someone is on top and doing well, there is some need for us to wait for that person to do something wrong. When people look at me, I want them to know that I am just as human as they are. I am fully aware of the issues that we as men have with women. Though I have my faults as a man, I have empathy and compassion towards women that are victimized and that's why I do what I do.

Thanks again for this opportunity, Michael. We really appreciate the opportunity to share a snapshot of your life with our readers. Before we let you go, I have to ask you about success. It's something that is relative to most people. What does success look like to you?  Success for me is being able to overcome challenges without having to compromise myself and staying true to my authenticity. It's having the power to create my own content and not having to have my hand out in order to do so. Success is also when I am able to fulfill my purpose being on the planet, challenging myself and using my art and talent to move us all forward.

That's not to say I'm always trying to do deep movies and stuff like that. I just want to do what I love and help others in society along the way. That's when I am most happy. That's success.

You can find out more about Michael by visiting www.michaelcorydavis.com. You can also discover more about the work of Artists United For Social Justice, visit www.ausj.org.

*   Note: Photo courtesy of Alexandra Lee Nurthen Photography.

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