Isis Davis is a proud West Londoner from humble beginnings. As an actress, her career has moved from short films including Crack, Notting Hill Girl and Cover Me (nominated for Best Short in this year’s BUFF Awards) to TV series’ that spread across the UK and America including most recently, Guilt for Lionsgate, and Electric Dreams produced for Channel 4 with Sony which is now being advertised and will be aired later this month.
From these successes, Isis has been signed by LA Manager Brendan Thomas at Authentic. Her one woman show This Is Who I Am, that she put on at The Soho Theatre in 2013, really started the ball rolling a few years back and the industry audience from that professional debut, not only built interest in her as an actress but as a writer, with immediate enquiries from The National Theatre, The Bush Theatre and from Directors such as Phyllida Lloyd and Danny Boyle.
Following on from interest at Film4 in her debut Feature Film script on which she was a co-writer, Isis has just finished writing her first four part drama for television, Draw. It is off the back of these scripts, and others that are in the pipeline, that has just seen Isis signed as a writer by Mr Mark Casarotto.
Isis is one to watch, and after John Hubbard labelled her as ‘soon someone that everyone will know’ #TBB10 caught up with this brilliant rising star…
1# Isis! Lot’s happening, where to start… how have things been?
There is a lot happening! Things have been great thank you. I finished shooting the new Channel 4/Sony production Electric Dreams which is now being advertised so I’m looking forward to that being aired. After that, I found out that I’d been nominated for the Emerging Talent Award from BUFF (British Urban Film Festival) and then a couple of weeks later I found out that I’d also won one of their Script Writing Awards for my four part series, Draw. The prize for the Script Writing Award is a platform to perform a Live Script Reading so I had the chance to get the piece off the page, for the first time. I had someone out from Tiger Aspect and my Writing Agent came out too. It was a brilliant opportunity. The Awards Ceremony was on Sunday night, and I was awarded the Script Writing Award and it was announced that I’d also won the Emerging Talent Award too. I couldn’t believe it. Such a strong category, I was blown away. Two awards!
2# Tell us about the process that led to your fantastic win …
I’ve been working hard so to have that recognised feels great! BUFF offer an incredible platform to urban talent and I guess I’m included in that bracket so for them to recognise my progress as an actor, as well as a writer is a massive compliment. The script I submitted, well they ask for a twenty page extract. Draw is a four part drama series for TV which has had some incredible interest from two very well known production companies so fingers crossed it gets picked up for production! I know that off the back of the festival, previous scripts have been picked up and put into production – a perfect example of what a great platform BUFF offers.
3# Tell us the story of Draw and what inspired the story?
Draw follows Danielle, a young gang member caught up in all that comes with gang life; danger, control and manipulation. These teenagers weave a web of danger that sees them vulnerable, often more so than their victims, believing they have it all under control. We watch this from a birds eye view covering all angles and aspects of their lives, focusing on Danielle as the main example of generational strife. It shows gang life from a female perspective which is a lesser told story than the usual male lead gang. This was borne from my own, unfortunate early path which lead me along a similar journey. This is not a true story, but I drew on my own life experiences for inspiration. I’m pleased to say my life is so far removed from that life now.
4# You mentioned you have some production companies interested in bringing your script for Draw to life, how ready are you for it to go to production, do you have actors in mind to play any of the roles for example?
The Live Script Reading gave me another platform to gain interest in the script and my Agent ensured we had a good few people in the audience to see the piece. I’m in the process of signing with a Writing Agent too so that will be a great help in moving things forward. I don’t have actors in mind for the production itself, I’m not at that point, I think I’d be running before walking if I had it cast in my mind already, but I did have a group of outstanding actors working with me for the Script Reading.
5# We know you for being an actress, have you always wanted to get into the filmmaking side of the business?
I haven’t always wanted to get into filmmaking but when I look back on my life, I realise I’ve always been a writer. In my youth, in my most troubled times, I used poetry and short stories as an escape and still have notebook upon notebook of my scribblings, and secrets and stories and poems from those days. I didn’t realise at the time that this was therapy to me, and I suppose, without sounding horrendous, a skill I’m fortunate enough to naturally possess. it’s something I love. It’s as I’ve gotten older that I’ve written scripts formally. I wrote my first stage play, a one woman show called, This Is Who I Am and putting it on at the SoHo Theatre is what really got the ball rolling for me and since then, I co-wrote my first feature script, and then rest has followed swiftly.
6# What is your ultimate goal in this industry, is it in front of the camera, behind or both and what’s your motivation?
I just want to continue to work. I want to have a schedule that is full throughout the year, every year and to have a combination of profile work as an actor and a writer would be absolute dream.
7# You’ve recently been signed to management in LA, how did this come about?
My agent had an enquiry from my manager and sent back all sorts of info and footage and he asked to meet with me when he was in London. The meeting was brilliant and he offered to work with me there and then. It still feels unbelievable at times to have the interest and support that I have but I guess when people meet with me and see or read my work, they must see how committed I am and appreciate my drive. I feel fortunate to be in the position I’m in, having once upon a time never dreamed I’d follow a career path, let alone be doing something that I absolutely love. The fact I now have someone on my team in America as well as in London is a real cherry on the top of a great few years which are still just the beginning of my professional journey.
8# Does this mean you’re leaving us in the UK for America… have you tried working in America before?
I don’t have a particular desire to live in America, but I do have a strong desire to work consistently and these days, the world is a much smaller place, so to take advantage of that seems to be the sensible thing to do. I certainly haven’t chased opportunities in America over working in the UK but I’ve been lucky enough to have them brought to me. I guess shooting on Guilt, which was a US series cast and shot here in London, may have raised some interest, and with Electric Dreams being produced by Sony with Channel 4, with five of the ten episodes being cast and shot in the UK and the other five in the US, I’ve been involved in two projects that have crossed over transatlantically.
I’m a proud West Londoner, I love London and I want to remain living in London, but should an opportunity arise to shoot a job in the US, I will certainly take that with both hands and gratefully travel over there. I’m terrified of flying! But that won’t stop me. I don’t believe it’s a necessity for anyone to go to America to work, and thankfully, other than the expected obstacles in the industry of so many talented actors going up for the same jobs which means you don’t get everything you audition for, I haven’t felt I’ve faced any obstacles unfairly. I’m just working my way through, climbing the ladder and counting my blessings at the same time.
9# How important is it for you to be recognised at BUFF this year?
Really important. Last year was the first year I got involved, when a short film I featured in, Cover Me, was shown as part of BUFF screenings at The Odeon, Camden. This year it has been nominated for Best Short so along with that, and the Emerging Talent Award nomination, I feel honoured to have had it announced that I won the Emerging Talent Award too and to receive their recognition as an actor. BUFF creates an incredible platform and I am incredibly proud to be part of the festival for the second year running.
Receiving one of the Script Writing Awards has been a great honour in itself as it has provided me with the opportunity to cast one of the actors I saw at the Script reading last year, in mine this year, it has given me the opportunity to network with several other actors I have been in touch with because of BUFF, and it will give people that are heavily involved with BUFF, the chance to see my work first hand.
There are some incredibly talented and successful people that are part of the Festival’s creative team that I am proud and excited to show my work to, as well as the industry contacts that they bring to these events throughout the festival. As an actress, for their board to award me with the Emerging Talent Award reaffirms the hard work I’ve been putting in, and has given me another opportunity to network with some of the successful actors that have been part of BUFF for many years, many of whom are now household names to you and I.
10# Who are the people you’d like to thank for where you’ve reached in your career so far, and how can people keep in touch with you and follow up on your script’s development…
I have been very lucky along the way and have met several great people who have believed in me and supported me on my journey so far, and still do. In recent years, my amazing Agent Nina Lee (Management), who has believed in me from the very start and has really put me out there and opened the doors for me that have got me to this point. There is no one I would trust more to manage my career and to have on my team. Before I became a professional actress, Sheila Mander and Sue Passmore, who set up the Performing Arts Degree at the University of Gloucestershire, invited me for audition. They believed in my talent and took a chance on me. Sheila went on to mentor me and really took me under her wing and actually directed my one woman show This Is Who I Am! and helped me take it from Gloucestershire to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and then to London. She is still always at the end of the phone is I ever need her wisdom.
My beautiful little family, my Wife, our daughter and our little one on the way are my world. They keep me going and support everything I do and everything I do is for them. My team! I come from a massive family, all of whom are very supportive, but none more so than my Dad. My Dad has been there through it all; the good and the bad. He encouraged me to follow my dreams. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without his unconditional love and support. This sounds like an acceptance speech… (laughs) I’m just very grateful.
I post all my professional movements on Twitter, so people can keep up to date with what’s happening on Twitter @ispeakishare. Any developments with the script, I’ll make sure I post up and share with everyone along the way. For the next few weeks, there will be updates from BUFF too so please follow @Buffenterprises and @buffawards for lots of updates.