2009 graduate meets with students after show and discusses acting, storytelling and time at Cheyney.
The only thing better than seeing a great Broadway show is getting to meet the cast after a special one-on-one discussion. For 25 Cheyney University TRiO Scholars, the opportunity became a reality as they visited Broadway to see Death of a Salesman and met with a special cast member after the show.
Khris Davis, a 2009 cum laude graduate who earned a B.A. in theatre arts, recently held a role in the adaptation of the 1949 play that broke new ground and told the story of Willy, played by actor Wendell Pierce, and Linda Loman from the perspective of an African American family. Davis played the role of Biff Loman, one of the sons of the dutifully married couple.
After the show, Davis met with Cheyney students for a special Talkback Q&A Session.
According to Davis, art influences so many aspects of life. Exposure is integral to our society, to critical thinking, to our interpersonal relationships, how we can process complex emotions, and to the way we see the world and its many magnificent differences.
While Davis has never been a teacher, he was a teaching artist with The Philadelphia Theatre Company and worked with students to help expose them to theatre.
“As an artist it is a great opportunity to create a bridge to the next generation,” said Davis. “It is important that we have exposure to art and its many forms. Every student deserves to have that.”
Davis continued, “It is my hope that in the future I can cultivate programs that will bring more arts, not just to those who are interested, but to as many students as I can.”
Originally from Camden, NJ, he attended the Creative Arts High School in Camden. He enrolled in Cheyney in the fall of 2005 and joined The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. After graduation, Davis moved to Philadelphia to pursue acting while performing and being a teaching artist with the Philadelphia Theater Company. He was also a founding member of Quintessence Theatre Company in Mt. Airy Philadelphia, a neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia.
In 2016, he made his New York stage debut as the star of Marco Ramirez’s The Royale at the Lincoln Theatre where his performance won him numerous honors including the Clive Barnes Award for Theater, an Obie Award, Theatre World Award, and a Drama Desk Award.
Since that time, he has starred in the film Space Jam: A New Legacy playing the childhood friend of Lebron James. He also appeared in the movie Detroit and in the Oscar-nominated film Judas and the Black Messiah and has other credits that include the FX series Atlanta, NBC’s The Blacklist as well as the Tony-nominated Broadway play Sweat.
Telling stories is his true passion in life.
“My heart is in storytelling, and I believe in the power of storytelling,” said Davis. “It doesn’t the modality in which the story is told, just that it is conveyed and that it changes and inspires people.”
Davis is leaving his mark on the world with a sense of social responsibility and passion for excellence, making him an outstanding example of “Cheyney Made.”
“A lesson that I took from Cheyney is that there is always another opportunity to start over,” said Davis. “Cheyney has given so many students, self-included, that very opportunity. It’s a way to reset and pivot. So, when challenges arise, some failures may present themselves.
“I know when a hardship presents itself, so does an opportunity for a new start.”
Audiences can next see Davis perform on the big screen as he plays the role of two-time heavyweight champion George Foreman in the George Tillman Jr.-directed biopic which is set up under Sony’s AFFIRM Films label. The film follows the life of Foreman from Olympic Gold medalist to World Heavyweight champion. It is scheduled to be released in 2023.
“I was over the moon about being chosen to play the Heavyweight Champion,” said Davis. “It is such a major opportunity to have the responsibility of playing an icon. It is my hope that I have honored the Champ in my portrayal.”
When it comes to his hometown Davis misses the people the most. “What I miss the most are my people,” explained Davis. “My family, the many friends I’ve made over the years, my fellow artists from my time there,” said Davis.
“Camden is home for me, so no matter where I am, or what I am doing. “I will always miss home the most,” said Davis.