Vernon Davis has left the NFL to pursue a career in entertainment and he’s off to a fast start playing in roles alongside Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis and others. Davis is also producing, cooking, investing and building an empire that will keep the checks rolling in. He joined Dope Interviews to discuss how it’s all going and some of his acting influences including Will Smith, Sidney Poitier and more.
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A transcript of the interview can be found below. Please be advised the transcript is unedited and will contain typos and errors.
Warren Shaw 00:11
what’s good everybody, and welcome to another edition of dope interviews brought to you by 19 Media Group. I’m your host Warren Shaw and today we are joined by a super super special guest. He is a filmmaker, and actor and entrepreneur, real estate investor, dancer, Chef. And he also played a lot of football in the NFL, it’s my guy Vernon Davis, Vernon How the hell are you family?
Vernon Davis 00:37
What’s going on? Man? I’m doing well, how are you?
Warren Shaw 00:39
Oh, I can’t complain. It’s just it’s amazing to kind of have you here in the space with here rocking with us on job interviews. And let’s just hop in, man, let’s tap in. Like, we’re here to discuss your entry kind of now into the entertainment space. And I just want to ask, like, What drew you to that and how’d you know that was gonna be the next step for you and your career.
Vernon Davis 00:58
So when I was playing ball, I found myself engaging in the world of acting and just art in general, open up an art gallery. And then from there, I ventured off and I took a class at the Shelton theater of art in downtown San Francisco. It was an improv class. And from there, I just fell in love with the world of acting and I started to get more involved in I started to seek out different roles that could work for me. Well, it it was interesting, because I had to, I had to work. I had to work had to work the right way because my schedule was football, you know, when you playing football, man, the schedule was so demanding. So I was fine. A roll here and there while I was playing and, and I didn’t look back ever since.
Warren Shaw 01:43
So would you say like, this isn’t necessarily it’s you’re scratching right now or like that you’ve had forever like it started to develop at some point when you were playing football? And you kind of got into it? Or would you say it was something that you’ve always had your eye on maybe from a younger age?
Vernon Davis 01:57
No, not at a younger age, I was at a younger age, I was more into painting cartoon characters on my jeans. And, you know, the creativity was always there. And then when i What happened when I got into college, I changed my major from art studio to no from criminal justice to our studio. And I found myself painting and metal casting and things of that nature. And then when I got to the pros, I started to find acting interesting producing just just the camera the whole aspect of the of the campaign before in front and behind the camera.
Warren Shaw 02:34
Listen, my guy, let’s keep it a buck. Many have tried this, right? People try to transition from one genre to an X and I don’t No one should be able to define success for you. So I want to ask you what is success for you look like as an entertainer so to speak.
Vernon Davis 02:49
I think success is just just being able to do something and do it passionately, have do it with pride and just just putting time into it. And just pretty much feeling like it making it feel like it’s a hobby, you know, when you have to when it’s when it’s work and you don’t want to do it, you don’t feel like getting up and it’s something that you don’t want to pursue, then it’s probably not the best thing for you, it’s probably something that you’re not going to excel in. Because when you when you love something so much you get up and you do and you do it all the time and you don’t really complain about it. You talk about it all the time, in the most appropriate way, a good way where you make people inspired and make them feel like they want to do it. You know, if I’m sitting there talking about acne I want I want people to feel it through my through my spirit, you know what I mean? So, that’s, that, to me that success, you know, when you when you actually put in the time and you dedicate yourself to something and you really love it.
Warren Shaw 03:43
So can we say haters be damned? You know? And have there been haters as a haven and what you’re doing I’ve been people tapping you on the shoulder and saying and asking, you know, why are you trying to do this?
Vernon Davis 03:53
No, no one really asked me you know what people would ask why not broadcast I want you to broadcast and once you do that, it because there’s low hanging fruit, it’s something that I’m familiar with. I’ve been doing it all my life and it’s there. It’s always gonna be there especially if you’re an athlete but that’s not something I really wanted to pursue you know, I’ve always been like I said I’ve always been creative and the I’ve always worked at Arts artistic side of my mind. So acting comedy you know acting television, television various genres is always been attracted to me
Warren Shaw 04:33
Oh, we have to tap into that here in a little bit. So I do want to ask like who are or do you have any acting influencers influences or people that you know that you maybe you would model you like, hey, you know what that person is really dope and somebody I’d like to kind of learn and maybe be better actors or sort of working with them or or learning from what they’ve done previously.
Vernon Davis 04:51
Yeah, you know what someone I love Sydney podi I love Jamie Foxx all the guys who really been around and one of the guys Another guy who’s who really hit the hit the hit the scene is Michael B. Jordan. He’s doing a terrific job. Just making a name for continuing to make a name for himself. But these are the guys who are who are, who are legends and guys who are who are well respected and put the time in, you know, I’m reading a really good book right now by Will Smith, which is called Well, covers though. Oh, nice. Nice. It has his name on it will, as in as if they’re they’re talking about Will Smith, you know, but the, that cap that right there that name is when you read the book, you understand why he titled it? Well, you know, he talks about, like, his life and where you started and to where he’s at now. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s crazy man, like some of the parallels that I see in this book, that I can really relate to my life. You know, it’s just, it’s just interesting, interesting read
Warren Shaw 05:57
well as a well as a great actor. And obviously, he’s in the news a lot of time and sometimes for the right reasons, some buying time by his own, doing his own doing things of that nature. And, you know, that’s not for us a year to kind of decide, but the fact that he’s put this book out there, and is being very vulnerable on your take into it, I think is really dope. I also want to commend you on just like, like you said, not just kind of grabbing the low hanging fruit and wanting to challenge yourself, you know, in that space, let me even kind of double down a little bit. Because you said there have been actors who’ve turned or sorry athletes who’ve turned to actor and some of them are really successful. For whatever reason, first person that’s coming to my house was like really good jobs like Rick Fox, right? Like he’s like, he like he’s an actor now. Like, basically, like, people never remember he even played basketball and those types of things were the case would be, have you soaked anybody in? I mean, that has done this, from the athlete space turn into kind of entertainment space, and any advice that you’ve gleaned from them?
Vernon Davis 06:45
You know, I’ve been around him, I’ve been around the rocket, I was in Baywatch, we had a small basketball scene, and I had a chance to take in some of his energy. But yeah, I’m always asking questions, I’m always observing, and just seeing what’s going on. But for me, it’s like, it’s like anything, you know, the only way to be successful in anything is to put the work in, you put the work and you do it religiously, and you don’t stop. So just taking some of the just taking the formula from that I have from the sports world, which is my dedication to the craft of football, you have to do the same thing when it comes to anything else that you want to do. And in this case, for me, it would be the world of entertainment in production, you know, whether it’s acting or, or producing or directing, you put the time in you, you do all your research, and you do it every day, you find something A wise man once told me said, you find something you do it every day. And that’s what I did while I was playing. And that’s what I have to do now, with whatever it is that I want to do.
Warren Shaw 07:43
Is there a way or I let me back up even some way I think some of your more recent projects, I want to say have maybe a darker tone, because it’s a horror film. And now you’re you know, you’re playing, you know, I think a serial killer, you know, and then this next upcoming film and things that nature, do you have a favorite genre or something that, you know, you you want to be kind of known for in terms of like, hey, I can I really want to be this type of actor? Or is it just kind of the whole broad view of everything?
Vernon Davis 08:08
You know, it’s pretty interesting, because a lot of times you’ll hear somebody hear someone say, What do you want to do? What? What’s your, what’s your specialty? What do you do you want to be an action star? Do you want to be? Do you want to do? The Do you want to be? You want to do Horus? Do you want to thrillers, sci fi, what do you want to do? And you feel like you never really know what you want to do. It’s the journey that you take, and you find things, to find out things about yourself and what you what you are good at what you’re really good at, you know. And that’s one thing I’m starting to feel I’m starting to pick up on, like I’m taking these taking these different roles that I’ve been playing, I’m starting to feel what what I really enjoy. You know what I mean? What I really enjoy is the research in the preparation of becoming a different character. You know what I mean? You find out you this character, this character, this character welcomes you in his world, and you welcome the character into your world. And you kind of bring your life, your real life situations and everything about yourself. And you can pay yourself to the character I mean, it’s so it’s so much it’s so many amazing things and amazing feelings that you get from really doing your due diligence on a character right I kept doing doing the character breakdown is pretty amazing. And I love that process, man. There’s nothing like it and watching different films like maybe it’s someone that I feel like this character may be like, you know, so then I’ll watch maybe Edward Scissorhands and and look at and check out Johnny Depp as he was taking on that character. It’s so many different things like the whole process of character work is, is really it feels really good, man. I love it.
Warren Shaw 09:54
Now, I think that’s a great answer. And and, you know, nobody wants to be typecast. Right, and nobody wants to be, you know, say my ceiling is only going to be this. So I think as you’re pushing forward into this space, definitely continue to challenge yourself. I don’t know how much you watch Netflix like that too. But like Kevin Hart is in like this drama, you know, on Netflix right now with Wesley Snipes, and all he’s a comedian in it, so to speak, this is his profession in the in the, in the show, but it actually is a whole different take on like, in a different way. You’ve seen Kevin Hart as well, too. And I think actors need to continue to challenge themselves to really test the depths of their ability and their talents. So I’m excited to see what you do, you know, with this space, you know, as you push this thing forward, while we’re having a conversation, just like what are some of your favorite films and things that you’ve watched, you know, as you’ve grown up, or even things that you see more recently,
Vernon Davis 10:44
you know, a lot of films, you know, you I’ve watched, I’ve watched so many films, some of my favorite films have probably be, you know, will probably be action films. You know, I’ve always been intrigued with those big action films from stars like Bruce Willis, to Will Smith and Martin Lawrence to the bad boys. I mean, big action in that. Then you go to Frank Grillo, who, you know, and a lot of these people I’ve worked with, but yeah, it’s, it’s pretty amazing. But one one guy that I really love and that I have had a chance to work with is Morgan Freeman. You know, I’ve watched him for so many years with my, with my granddad and I’m very familiar with him. And, and, and, you know, the work that he’s done, and to be able to work with him alongside him and being scenes with him. And it’s just, I mean, it’s like a dream come true, man. It’s pretty awesome. And I was asking the director and the producer, I was like, Why did you guys pick me for this role? This is such a heavy role movie, talking about? Because I couldn’t understand. I was like, Do you guys never really seen me? See me work cuz I don’t really have anything out at the moment. Cuz I’m all I’m new at this. This is all new for me. Why don’t you guys choose me for this role? I mean, this is a serial killer from South Africa. Who speaks the South African dialect? Why did you guys do that? It was so interesting to me that they would pick me to take on such a heavy role. You know what I mean? But, but, you know, I did it. I did it. I took on, took on the workload, I put the work in, I put the time in, I studied. I even went as far as learning a little Zulu for this character, you know, because that’s, like, what’s going to talk about his book he said, when you find out the fears when the fears that this character has that you’re that you’re that you’re working on, right? What are the characters fears, right? It gives them it makes the character so much multi dimensional. Instead of making them one dimension, it just gives them layers and layers when you when you give them create the fears and and all these things that you put into this character all the work that you’re doing, like that’s what you’re doing. Now when you look at a character like Will Smith Morgan Freeman, you see a multi dimension dimensional character because they’ve done all the work they’ve added these fears and, and all these things that these characters did this character they think this character and bodies so now you have a four alive character person that you’re watching on film.
Warren Shaw 13:22
Listen, you know, that’s a super super layer and answered their burnin. And I think as you study some of the grades and work and try to figure out your own your own path, you know, it is something that you’re going to just continue to be better at. But I got you know, I gotta challenge you, man. Like, they picked you bro. Don’t Yeah, I mean, like, why are you questioning your blessings? You know, be happy with like, Oh, they got me I’m good enough. You know, I mean, and so you know what, what was their answer, though? Even in saying that, like why did you why did you why did they pick you
Vernon Davis 13:52
up? Well, the director Joe Joe Lemmon, he said that he saw my he saw my acting reel, and he saw some of the he saw the range that I had. And some of my and a lot of my scenes in that reel. He said once he saw it, he was like, Oh yeah, he could do it. He said he just knew that I could do it because saw the range that I had. So that’s awesome. Yeah, so
Warren Shaw 14:16
we’re chatting with the multi talented Vernon Davis, be sure to follow him in all social media outlets at Vernon Davis 85. Let’s take a quick break. And we’ll be right back. What’s good everybody, it’s your boy one shot here and everybody I know we’re trying to cash in on the next best crypto. But if you want a guaranteed way to double your money, all you need to do is use the promo code dope. That’s D O P E at my bookie. It’s simple sign up at my bookie with the promo code dope and your first deposit is immediately dumped all the way up to 1000 bucks. How’s that for a quick turnaround on your investment. With the NFL playoff race heating up and the college bowl season just around the corner double your firepower at my bookie to get in on the action of the most important games of the season. Build your own props create multi game parlays and take part in a host of my book Cash Prize Contest. This is the best time of year to watch and bet on sports. Not into sports not a problem. My bookie also has lines on current events and politics too. Don’t miss out double your first deposit by using promo code dope. And keep your eyes peeled for more exclusive holiday promotions coming soon. And my bookie bet anything but anytime, anywhere with my bookie and make sure you use the promo code dope. And we’re back here with Vernon Davis. Great, great conversation as far as he’s entering into the entertainment space leaving the football field behind gridiron. Yeah, that’s that’s that’s that’s over with right now we hear you’re trying to get Oscars and Emmys and things of that nature. So Vernon being in the space means that there’s going to be some mistakes. So let’s let’s have a little fun. I mean, tell me about some of some of the funny moments that maybe you’ve had on set with some of the movies and actors that you’ve been around with.
Vernon Davis 15:49
Oh, man, we I can tell you I go on and on. I mean, I just it’s so funny man experiences that you create. It’s kind of like the locker room, right? It’s the you fall in love with the locker room like what football is the locker It’s not about the games that you play. It’s more about the people that you cultivate the relationships with. And just like you’re there and maybe Mississippi you’re in, in Rome, wherever. There’s so much time with the cast and crew that you forget about that actually making the movie because you have so much fun with with the people you’re with. And you experience so many different moments. I remember we were in Mississippi filming a day to die Bruce Willis, Frank Grillo Kevin Dillon, Leon. I mean, so much we were on. We were actually getting ready to film and this guy comes up. It pulled up in his in his car. He you know, he had like, mental issues like, go whatever. But he was just, he wanted to be in the film. He’s like, Y’all have a role for me. You know, he came up. He’s like, do y’all have a role for me? You know, we police officers and you know, security around. And it was like, we can’t we can’t help you. We know we don’t have a role in the middle of shooting.
The guy pulls out of water. Kevin Dillon kicks off man. He takes off running, buddy. Oh, that’s why Yeah, it was it was so funny, man.
Vernon Davis 17:17
I mean, it’s so many moments, man that, that this created when you’re filming movies, man, I can go on and on and on. But that’s, that’s just one of them. That’s just super funny.
Warren Shaw 17:26
Nah, man. That’s, that’s That’s dope. But again, I guess you can relate it to locker room means like, you have to be there. Right? You have to be there to experience it and know, and see what’s happened to man. I want to say congratulations on your success, you know, a message from Rihanna. And I just wanted to say what was the response from the American black film festival on that project, as we conclude here on
Vernon Davis 17:45
that, you know, I didn’t get all the details from that, because it just that film, that film festival just ended. But you’re I can’t wait to get those to get those responses and kind of see what every what everyone really thought about it. But we had a screener in LA about a couple of weeks ago. And, uh, you know, sitting there watching people react to the film, it’s like, I’m like, wow, this is interesting, because I didn’t look at it the way the audience is, you know, was looking at it. But it’s pretty cool to see that there’s a lot of laughter in this film. You know, I didn’t see a lot of laughter in there, because I was when I was actually making an acting in the film. And, uh, you know, I watched the film about 20 times, just to kind of see, you know, different things, you know, what needs to happen, you know, as far as you know, on the producer side of it, the color the sound and just make sure everything’s there. But, yeah, it’s pretty awesome to see. Yeah,
Warren Shaw 18:38
well, you know, and this is no disrespect. You know, at all, I think, Well, I think a lot of horror movies have unintentional levity in it, whether it’s the character doing something stupid, and you just kind of laughing that bad or whatever, if the, I wasn’t killing is not funny, but so to speak. Well, sometimes the way people get got it, like, oh, yeah, and it brings out, you know, kind of the comedy in that as well, too. So, you know, congratulations on being able to emit different types of responses from you know, from a pretty heavy film altogether. And, you know, I’m sure it’s gonna be nothing but positive things for you, you know, for from a message from Brianna, what made you want to do that, that project, you know, number one, and working, you know, with actors involved in that as well, too,
Vernon Davis 19:16
because you don’t want to take on that project because you like you say, you want to be pigeonholed and anything. And for me, I love a challenge. I love the challenge of, of hard, just hard work in general. And that character, when you’re in a horror film, there’s so many different levels of emotions that you have to have. And I knew that I was going to I was going to put the work in to create those moments and have those emotions that I need to have and just, you know, to be a part of that journey. And you know, when I got the script, I call it my acting coach, and we work three days, three hours a day, three days a week, and we work on everything. I mean, like the activities that we work on and actually just going through the script breaking down the scripted reading, going back and forth with the dialogue, it was pretty phenomenal. Awesome,
Warren Shaw 20:05
awesome. Congratulations again, on that project. And even outside of the film space, as we alluded to, you’re busy dude, man, you talk to him a little bit about the project with players TV, you know, it’s kind of a shark tank kind of style type of type of situation. Just what does that project mean to you? And why you do? Why did you get involved with that one? On
Vernon Davis 20:22
that project? Yeah, I thought I thought they had a pretty cool platform, I thought, you know, just bringing in different athletes and having them on this platform them actually owning the content. And then us being able to come up with ideas and create the content ourselves and own the IP, along with players TV was pretty awesome. Having having my own ideas and bringing it to the platform, I have a show that I created called Cooking with the stars, where Terrell Owens is my first guest. And then I went ahead and had Russell Peters and Josie Davis, who was a child actor, who’s still acting at the moment had her come on second episode of it, but we’re still creating that that project, but it’s, it’s there is where it needs to be. So that that’ll probably be the next plan, the next project on that platform. So it’s awesome. That’s why I wanted I wanted to do it, because I knew that I would have a great opportunity to really be fully involved on a lot of the projects.
Warren Shaw 21:24
How do you keep it all focused? I mean, you know, you’re still doing the real estate thing. And obviously, now the acting and entertainment side and producing, like how it doesn’t like there’s enough hours in the day to kind of keep those all focused and situated.
Vernon Davis 21:38
Yeah, you know, I have no idea, man, I just go, I just ride the wave and just take it one day at a time. Because that’s all you can do. Just take it one day at a time and know that I have these different things here and there, and having people in place to do their job. Because if you have I was I was always taught if you have experts, you put experts in place to do what they’re really good at. Right. And when it comes to real estate, having a property manager to deal with the managing the property. And when it comes to making a movie having a director, producer, blind producer. And then you have the actors, you have every body doing their their jobs, whatever they’re good at, you know. So I’m just a firm believer in having those different pieces and every thing that you’re doing,
Warren Shaw 22:30
well, you’re building an empire, and it’s going to be bad. So it’s like you’re helping a lot of people within as well to just for the last couple of months for them to get out of here. For now. It’s just, it can’t be all work. Right? How do you how do you unwind and relax now? Because again, like if you’re even if you’re watching a film you’ve done like, you’re still critiquing yourself, so that still kind of like work? Like, how are you just chilling and relaxing, and not worrying about all the many things that you’re involved in?
Vernon Davis 22:53
You know what it was, you know, like, I like to kind of piggyback off what I just said, like, when you’re doing it’s not really work. Okay? So when I’m watching the films, and I’m doing this, and I’m sitting here, I’m reading a book, or I’m acting, or maybe it’s master class, and you have Samuel Jackson, he has a, he has a class on master classes. And when you when you love to learn things becoming come easy for you. It’s effortless, is seamless, you know, because you really enjoy and for me, it’s hard to identify this work because I’m really having so much fun. And a lot of people always tell me, my buddy called me that he’s like, when you’re gonna take a break. I was like, I don’t know how to take a break. This is this is all fun. It’s like football to me. Like when I was playing football, I, I would come home after practice. And you know, everybody else would probably go home and you know, and wine, eat dinner and things of that nature. But I would come home look at film. And then I bought this tennis ball machine that spits out like 100 balls for an hour before I go to bed. Because that was just it was a hobby for me it was just something I was used to just you create that you create that environment that world that that you just thrive off of. And for me this is this is thriving.
Warren Shaw 24:03
Man, that’s a super dope, and you’re an inspiring cat. Again, you’re doing a lot for the community doing uplifting and you know doing great, great work, you know, for and especially for the Davis name like you’re out here. Really, really working things out, man. I’ll let you get out of here. But before we go, just tell the people you know about about your new project everything that’s kind of coming up and then we’ll sign off.
Vernon Davis 24:28
Yeah. So message from Briana just made it to the African American AB FF, which is pretty awesome. I didn’t expect that but it did. So that was really very really, really rewarding for my team, myself, and the rest of the team. Morgan Freeman Muti is coming up in April chariot with John Malkovich and Thomas Mann. That’ll be that should be out in 2022. And then we have what else do we have? Dear Brett dear best friend, which is which will probably be a BT platform that’ll be coming as that’ll be coming up. So a lot of things to look forward to very exciting. Can’t wait for it all to come out and to kind of get some get the thoughts get people’s thoughts and you know, kind of see what the family thinks about my new career and some of the stuff in my work that I put out.
Warren Shaw 25:20
I’m excited for you, I’m tired for you. I’m talking to you even if you want I’m like, Man, that’s a lot of stuff. So congratulations and all that he is Vernon Davis again, follow him at Vernon Davis 85 on all social media outlets. That’s all the time we have for today. Thanks so much for rocking with us. I’m your host Warren Shaw make sure you follow me on all social at Sean sports MBA at Shaw sports and follow the show’s handle at dope. Start at dope underscore interviews. Man this has been another dope interview Vernon Davis we thank you brother we are rooting for you family and we can’t wait to see what to do next man appreciate you so much and we’re out
Vernon Davis 25:57
Thank you, appreciate you buddy.