Editor’s Note:The reel blacklistis our annual spotlight on the brothers and sisters in advertising, film, television, music, radio and media who make a difference through their contributions and creativity on a daily basis. For the month of February you can celebrate wonderful human beings like Tyler Davis with us.
Tyler davis is an actor, comedian, filmmaker and musician based in Los Angeles via Chicago. He co-wrote and starred in CBS Showcase 2020 and served as editor, writer and DP for 2021 Showcase. Back in Chicago, he starred in two mainstage sketch journals with The Second City Chicago and created sketches online for Comedy Central.
Currently, Tyler is a production consultant and guest star on the Showtime series. Work in progress, voices Jonnit’s character on the podcast Skyjacks campaign and recently signed on to do commercials with TESSA films. Davis is replaced by DPN Talent in Los Angeles, Grossman & Jack Talent in Chicago and managed by El Centro Management.
What is your origin story?
I grew up nerdy and black in Columbus, Ohio. My mom was an optometrist, my dad was a firefighter, and I wanted to draw cartoons. I learned Macromedia Flash (RIP) and how to edit videos in college myself while I was graduating in Marketing. I won a guitar in a ring toss game at Cedar Point and started teaching myself how to produce music during that time, and have been trying to combine these different skills ever since!
How did you get into the entertainment industry?
I entered the entertainment industry through the Chicago improv scene. I’ve performed skits and improvisations in theaters across the country, from the Kennedy Center to Bar Harbor, Maine. I was doing my own stuff throughout this time, but more recently I self-produced and filmed a series of quarantine sketches that caught me some attention and led to my recent signing with TESSA.
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Who were your mentors?
Mick Napier, that’s for sure. He’s a charming curmudgeonly owner of The Annoyance Theater in Chicago. It gave me many of my first opportunities to be seen when I was starting out, and helped me meet a group of artists that I would continue to work with continuously over the next five years. He has a real brain for comedy and is the only person I know who can convey stage instructions in sound effects.
While there are more, what do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
In 2009 I told myself I was going to work for Second City and in 2017 I was working for Second City on their Mainstage. Our lives are an amalgamation of influences, circumstances and dynamism, but it was so good to be able to seize the moment and to think that I did this!
And your biggest disappointment?
It is not the the biggest, but it’s on my mind: I recently had the editing PC that I had been building for years and felt quite arrogant to crash completely during a gig. I walked into the project feeling like crap until Premiere said NOPE! and just black screen of death. I wasted days trying to figure out what was wrong until I crashed and bought a Mac. Did I mention I’m nerdy?
How has the super power of your Blackness helped you?
It makes me want to do my best in everything I do! It charges me to be able to use what I know to do something with other black people. It’s the most electric feeling. Everyone wants everyone to be successful and there is so much joy!
If black culture is your superpower, what is your kryptonite?
Youtube. This is the cause and the solution to so many of my problems.
How have the BLM movements of the past few years affected you personally?
It led me to take a break from creating. I noticed how showing up in person for the walks in Los Angeles made me feel physically and emotionally drained, and it was good. I felt like I needed to create content that spoke to the movement throughout, but I learned that it was just as important to take care of myself when I could to stay in good health, of body and mind. Sometimes you have to take care of yourself to take care of others.
What can the industry do best to promote true diversity?
MORE diversity outside of the people on screen! No more black directors, no more black writers in the room, no more black hair and makeup stylists! The first time I asked a black woman to do my hair on a platter, it was an amazing feeling. She roasted me for coming in to work with my twists all busted and then started hooking me up because she knew what she was doing and I looked better on camera because of it!
If you are Batman, who is Robin?
My cousin. He has been my sounding board for all of my creative endeavors over the past year. We live in the same house and are always down if I need to say a stupid idea out loud or need someone to hold the camera for a split second. Knowing that you have someone in your area does so much for your self-esteem and what you think you can do.
What drives you to create?
It’s probably cheesy, but I really like the creative process. I’m self-taught in all things filmmaking, so I’m constantly giddy to be even here, but I’m also obsessed with learning from the last thing I did and surpassing it in the next iteration. My aspirations sometimes seem bigger to me than my fairly small body (I hope to shoot a Dave Chapelle and Hulk in their forties) and being able to express that better through what I create is motivating enough to make me want to keep doing it until. that I’m old and gray.
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