As this pandemic changes the face of how we see stage performances, actor Akeem Davis is embracing the new normal.
Davis was raised in Miami, Florida, relocated to Philly, and made himself right at home — even winning the 2015 F. Otto Haas Emerging Artist Award.
He’s played at many local and regional theaters, even breaking the color barrier during many of his appearances.
But when it comes to Davis’ profession, his desire has remained constant.
“I would like to be that actor who is known for his great work, and to be that person who is involved in the significant projects of his time,” he says.
And during the pandemic outbreak, it looks like the time is now and Davis is getting his wish, joining other actors in finding other ways to present their performances.
Tonight, May 22, at 7:30 pm, Davis will be a part of Lantern Theater’s virtual play reading of Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona.” The reading is hosted by Zoom.
“Growing up, I had no thought of becoming an actor. My first dream was to become a C.P.A.,” Davis recalls. “Next, I wanted to be a tax attorney because I learned they made a lot of money. And then an actuary. But when college finally came into sight, I knew I had to decide how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.”
Strange as it seemed to others, acting was a natural choice for Davis. He says “Since I was 6 or 7 I had been involved in speech contests, and the drama program at my church. So it was something I did all through school, and acting was among one of the things I truly enjoyed. It was among the many things my parents made sure I was involved with. And it was always one of my passions.”
And so it was off to Florida State University’s acting program. After graduation, he came to Philly on the recommendation of several friends who had successfully made the move before him. Eventually, he was quite successful too.
“At first I spent some time in Washington, D.C., but it soon became clear that Philadelphia was the best place for me to be,” Davis says. ”However, after several years there came a point when I became stagnant and looked around for someplace else to be. But in 2015 I won the Haas Award, $15,000 and started dating (fellow actor) Taysha Canales, the woman who will soon become my wife. And now we’re looking at a dynamic future together.”
Of course, much of the theatrical work Davis was scheduled to do on stage has been canceled.
“Even so,” he volunteers, “I know our industry and theater will eventually survive. I’m sure of that. So I’m sitting here patiently and finding ways I can adapt to the situation the way it is. “
He adds that “theaters are being creative and resilient, and trying to practice their craft, being ready for the moment they can open their doors again.
“For the future I just want to stay healthy and have a good life with my fiancé,” he concludes. “Professionally, I do think that this moment is about a rejuvenation for me and I look forward to being able to tell exciting stories that I am passionate about. I’m really looking forward to talking to theaters about what plays they eventually want to schedule. If anything, this moment has shown me I want to be efficient and able to stay resolute in pursuing my goals. And I have no doubt things will be good again.”