Actor Transformation Interviews Rhonda Davis
What do you love about acting and how did you get started?
I love the opportunity to immerse myself in a character other than “Rhonda.” I play Rhonda all the time. I love that! But it’s fun to think about another character, to invent a backstory with highs and lows for her life, to become the character sufficiently to react to what’s happening to her based on that backstory.
Like many actors, I started in theater. Theater taught me to listen, actively listen, any time and all the time I’m on stage. Part of my transformation as an actress has been to bring the “big” theater character down to the appropriate size for film. All of the grand gestures that are needed to reach the back of a 350 seat theater just don’t work in front of a camera.
You were recently on the set of a wonderful movie. Tell us about your experience in the film.
I had so much fun on “Lady of the Manor,” a comedy written by Justin Long and Christian Long. Justin and Christian were such wonderful and welcoming directors. And Melanie Lynskey and Judy Greer were friendly and generous actresses to all, even someone with a small role like mine. The film is slated for theatrical release through Lionsgate.
Tell us your favorite acting role on the stage.
My favorite role — so far — was playing the character Vernadette in The Dixie Swim Club. For most of the play, Vernadette appears to be just unlucky — always tripping or in some other way getting injured, and her descriptions of it make the audience laugh. However, it’s likely she is being abused by her husband and won’t admit it to her friends. In the end, when her friends, now in their 70s, get together for the last time, Vernadette has dementia. That, of course, is sad, but mixed with the sadness is the realization that she believes what her friends tell her about what a wonderful life she has had. Playing the Vernadette arc — from the sad sack, unlucky lady to the elder with dementia was my favorite acting part so far in my career.
What advice would you give to actors just starting out in their acting careers?
Study, study, study! You need to learn how to act. Take acting classes, audition for anything and everything you can — student films, short films, industrials, plays, TV, film. It doesn’t matter if all you have is one line. As Stanislavski said, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Work hard, show up on time, be nice to everyone, and be authentic. None of those things is more important than another. To be successful you need to do the work, and all of those things are “the work.”
What kind of roles would you like to play in the future?
Typically I play nice women. I am a nice woman (or at least I think I am), so I would love to play against type and be the badass or the tough DA. I would love to have a role where I could be snarky. I want to stretch and grow as an actress.
What keeps you motivated?
My love of acting is what keeps me motivated. When an actor truly loves what they do, then rejection is just a part of the game. I know that a certain percentage of the auditions that I go on, will likely lead to bookings. And that’s just magical.
What special skills do you have?
I love animals, and one of the “special skills” on my resume is dog training. The ability to understand a little bit about animals means that I’m comfortable around them and I understand how to interact with them. Sounds simple, but if you’ve ever watched someone who isn’t comfortable with animals try to make themselves comfortable, well generally it really doesn’t look like they are.
Thanks for sharing your story with our readers Rhonda. Where should people follow you and your career?