Biography Written By: Ronald Brandon Dennis
An international performer, Davon crafts performances that frame the voice of his generation. An artist actively working to promote change, he has been referred to as “a magician in guy’s guy clothing” by M.A.S.H. casting director, Sam Christensen.
Growing up in Baltimore
A Baltimore native, Davon is the nephew of infamous kingpin, Lil’ Melvin Williams, the inspiration behind HBO’s The Wire. Growing up in the rough streets of east Baltimore, Davon experienced the extremes of gang violence and poverty, while receiving a top-notch education from the best private schools in the area. Such drastic culture shifts created a duality in him that aids in his ability to communicate and connect with others on a multitude of levels.
LIFE STARTING YOUNG
Thanks to his grandmother, Davon attended church every Sunday as a child. He was brought up in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, which heavily influences his desire to for community engagement. From 2004-2005, he had the honor of being elected the President of the Young People’s Department for the AME Church’s 2nd District with 91% of the vote. Presiding over Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina, his effective leadership and one-man shows doubled youth membership in one year.
Also in 2005, Davon went on to create a teen-based talk show in collaboration with the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum called TEENS ARE TALKING. The show focused on the issues facing young adults in Baltimore.
All through high school, Davon was a nationally ranked speech and debate competitor for the National Forensic League. He held titles in multiple events and placed in tournaments hosted by St Joseph’s University, Harvard University, and Yale University.
In 2005, The Theatre Director at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia noticed his work and offered him admission to the school’s rigorous acting program. During his first three days in college, Davon was asked to join the school's first play of the season, THE AMERICAN CLOCK by Arthur Miller, which went on to gain a remount with and nomination from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. As a student producer, Davon restructured and successfully increased funding for Equinox, the student-run theatre festival of new plays. Still in school, he was asked to be in the Walnut Street Theatre’s production of STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Most notably, he attained the Pennsylvania Forensic Association’s President Award, Sweepstakes Award, and Dramatic Interpretation award for UArts, which was the university’s first set of awards.
During the summer of 2008, Davon was recruited by the Americorps program, EducationWorks, to help launch their performing arts summer camp. The camp went on to win best camp for the cycle and the curriculums established by his team are still in use today.
Life as a Teaching Artist
Inspired by his time with EducationWorks, Davon focused his drive and talent on theatre education right out of college. Quickly becoming one of Philadelphia’s premiere teaching artists, his complex upbringing and experience with theatrical deconstruction gave him an edge working in over 42 schools in Pennsylvania. He was passionate about using theatre and performance techniques to promote literacy and self-empowerment. He taught acting, playwriting, improvisation and poetry, just to name a few. Some of his landmark collaborations include Theatre Exile, KIPP Charter School, Northeast High School, Build-A-Bridge, Norris Square, Walnut Street Theatre, the Young Men’s Leadership School at Fitzsimons, Bucknell University, and Purdue University.
Versatile in his approach, he has taught Kindergarten students to adults. He served as the Director of Theatre and Theatre Chair for the School District of Philadelphia’s Regional Talent Centers. With the help of the Philadelphia Young Playwrights, he created a show that toured schools participating in the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership’s (PAEP) Bridges Program. After his visit, many teachers reported a major shift in their students’ productivity.
Davon was the graduation keynote speaker at a Philadelphia school after working with the students during a series of crises. Here is an excerpt from his speech: “In front of a class of fearful children, I stood. It was time for dismissal, but the children would not go home. Earlier that day, the class of twenty-five witnessed a suicide and watched helplessly as one of their own had fallen victim to a heart attack in that same day. Every teacher and counselor present tried their best to distract the children, but to no avail. They didn’t want to be distracted from what they had witnessed; they wanted answers. It was clear that our job wasn’t to get them to forget about death, but to help them deal. And so we dealt; knowing that the call to teach often goes beyond the curriculum.”
Another career defining moment took place in 2010 when a race altercation between students took place at South Philadelphia High School; an incident that made national news. The situation had gotten so bad, that the Philadelphia School District granted the school $1 million to turn things around or face a school closing. Part of that money went into an arts program to help build community amongst the students. The first year of this program was considered a failure. The powers that be had trouble connecting with the students and getting to the root of the problem. Looking outward, Davon was recruited to help breathe new life into the initiative. After accepting his proposal on how to go about restructuring the program, he came on board to help with the overhaul. The program was a overwhelming success and even garnered attention from then Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter. They were also awarded a Barrymore award in education.
Life In The Collective
In January 2011, Davon founded the Nova D Arts Collective to help promote social change and educational enrichment through theatre. In their first year, some of the company’s highlights included producing three issue-based shows, completing two successful residencies, hosting two poetry showcases and attaining multiple awards in response to their work.
The company expanded nationally in 2013 and served as a developmental launch pad for artists across the country looking to exchange ideas and gain new perspectives. Listen to Davon's Interview on PR Radio about the Nova D Arts Collective here.
Life as an Artist in Philadelphia
As a performer, he is actively searching to collaborate with companies that empower and inspire. He worked with Build-A-Bridge to put on a series of shows, educating women released from incarceration, on the benefits of saving and investing their money. In January 2011, Davon’s plays, The Boy Who Sees and Our Father were graciously accepted into the ART/LIFE Company’s play showcase. This opportunity garnered him a playwriting deal with the Philadelphia Library for the Blind and a stage reading in New York City. He loves to participate in the development of new works. He participated in Plays and Players Production of Zombie: The Musical, which was the winner of the Theatre Alliance’s S.P.A.R.K. Showcase and a hit at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. He received a contract to assist in the creation of ESPN’s NFL Preview 2011 magazine cover featuring Michael Vick.
He was part of the east coast production of Another Round by J Adam Russell. This play explored the repercussions of a white cop shooting a black child. He received flattering reviews and was even declared by WRTI as an “accomplished artist to watch.” Davon is an award-winning artist; winning the Pennsylvania Forensic Association’s “Dramatic Interpretation and Performance” award and The Philadelphia Urban Theatre Festival’s award for “Best Play.”
His final Philadelphia performances were in 2012 with the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre as the barbarous “Aaron the Moor” and the gentle servant “Antonio” in William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and Twelfth Night. Carmen Khan, the artistic director of the company said, “Performing Shakespeare, especially Aaron the Moor in Titus requires a rigor and discipline that takes patience and application over a long period of time, both of which Davon has… His artistry and training have proven to be invaluable to the rehearsal process, and it is clear to me that he will be a powerful voice in the community.”
Life as an International Artist
In 2014, Davon relocated to Hong Kong to work for Disney. He served as Scar in the FESTIVAL OF THE LION KING. This show is done in English, Ndebele, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Davon helped establish Musical Mondays, a time for ExPat artists to sharpen their skill sets. He also had the pleasure of being the voice of the Hong Kong “Frozen Festival” Asian tour and the voice of Hong Kong Disney’s groundbreaking ceremonies. He has hosted and performed in Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Macau, and Mainland China. He has also appeared as a guest star on two Chinese shows. Listen to Davon
Life in LA
Davon has worked on three national commercial campaigns; Campbells Soup, General Auto Insurance, and Miller-Mott. His Campbell’s commercial also received a commercial cycle in Canada, Mexico, and France. His General Auto Insurance commercial was such a hit, that it was extended for an additional two years.
Exploring stand-up, Davon made three appearances at LA’s famous Comedy Store. His second appearance was as an opener for Whitney Cummings and Bobby Lee.
His film and television career blossomed as he made appearances on SPIKE TV and NETFLIX. He was the lead in the indy film Naked Dragon. One reviewer stated that “Davon is the backbone of this film. He is sexy, talented, and captivating.” He also starred in the films, REDDING and TANGO MACBETH; both of which have been film festival favorites in America and overseas.
Davon was in McCoy/Rigby’s International tour of DREAMGIRLS where he doubled as a cast member and the primary voiceover artist for the show. The cast was nominated in the Ovation Awards’ "Best Ensemble" category. Gaining notoriety for his performance in DREAMGIRLS, he was pulled midway from the tour to share the Ahmanson Stage with Rachel York and Betty Buckley in Center Theatre Group’s hit, GREY GARDENS. His followup project took him to Santa Barbara to star in Ensemble Theatre Company’s PORGY AND BESS. Starring as Jake, Davon was also pulled to aid in the promotional tour for the show. The production went on to receive great press, an increase in the donor base, and broke all sales records.