Kevin Ray Johnson
I would like you to meet Kayla Davion. Kayla is currently performing in the Ensemble and understudies the role of Ann Darrow of King Kong on Broadway at The Broadway Theatre. Ms. Davion has also performed on Broadway in the Ensemble of Waitress at The Brooks Atkinson Theatre. It was such an honor and privilege to have the chance to interview this very talented performer.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a performer?
Well it depends on what kind of performer! I have been singing since I was little because my dad is a pastor and loved it when my siblings and I would sing at church. I decided I wanted to be an R&B artist basically in Junior high but didn’t get passionate about it until heading into high school where I met my friend Brenton Smith. He encouraged me to really pursue it and so I would write a new song everyday and record on some of his tracks with him!
I was convinced that I was going to get signed to a record label. It wasn’t until my senior year that I truly found theatre. I was asked to audition for this All State Theatre production of MEMPHIS. I had only been in one play in high school at the end of my junior year and a small production when I was like 10 so I wasn’t really aware of how theatre really changed lives. I was surround by students from all over and when we put this production together it changed my life. I mean really. I never knew that African American women could really be leads in a show and I had no clue that shows could actually talk about this passion for music and how it also served as a representation for how they love. I knew I couldn’t go back to anything else besides theatre. It meant too much at that point. So long story short, performing has many ages for me but 18 was when my calling presented itself.
Where did you study? And are there any mentors or people that helped you in your career?
I studied at Ball State University in Muncie, IN (I like to say basically this beautiful campus in the middle of no where lol). There are so many people who helped me in my career but I would have to especially give a shout out to my Dee Dee Batteast, Emily Tzucker (my acting professors), Johnna Tavianini (my vocal coach), and Bill Jenkins (my chair department head). These people saw something in me that I didn’t even fully believe I saw in myself. They were willing to do whatever it took to challenge me and help me understand my own power that lied within me. They taught me about vulnerability and continued to stick by my side in every victory and downfall. My credit goes to them.
How has your time been in King Kong?
My time in King Kong has been very trying and also very rewarding. I mean to be in an original Broadway cast is one of the most exhilarating but most tiring things! The nights of getting only a few hours of sleep were many but it was worth every bit of exhaustion. I got to meet some of the greatest people by far in my life. The cast is like a dream cast for me because I have gotten to learn so much from each person and I am still learning so much from them even now well into the run. They are some of the most passionate, non-jaded people I have ever met haha. They understand what it means to be grateful for each and every moment and they have my back before I even need to have my own and that is something I find so admirable. They are the real deal in my eyes and I’m so lucky to be on this journey with them.
Do you have any favorite moments in the show?
My favorite moment in the show is the entire beginning sequence. It is about 9 minutes long and there are absolutely no breaks within it! You are either already dancing on stage or you are quick changing to come on! We still haven’t found out how to breathe fully in that song and sing at the same time but it is so much fun just getting to see everyone shine and interacting with them. Also it reminds me that we all still have things to improve on and a journey ahead of us. The work is never finished!
Are there any other shows in your career (other than King Kong) that will always hold a special place in your heart?
MEMPHIS has definitely played the biggest role in my life and will always have a special place. Also I will never forget WAITRESS. It brought me so many firsts. It was my first Broadway show, my first new friendships and family in New York, my first big vocal realization that pop music is NOT easy, my first real heartbreak, and it brought me my first time debuting as a principle on a Broadway Stage and also making history as the first African American Woman to do that role!
What advice do you have for young aspiring performers?
My advice to young aspiring performers is to really take the time out to truly understand that YOU ARE ENOUGH. So many times we forget how important our self motivation and determination is. It is the driving force to achieving your dreams. But it starts with YOU. You have to know how amazing you are. No one else can make you believe that no matter how many affirmations are given. And also DO THE WORK. The dreams that matter to you must be worked on. You can only get so far with luck. Faith without works is dead.
For more information about Kayla’s current show, King Kong please visit – www.kingkongbroadway.com