Photographer: Greg Vaughan
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Justiin Davis showed an appreciation for the arts, theater and performing at an early age. At the age of 3 he started to book commercials and performed in productions in the New York area.
Justiin Davis is known for his regular role in the HBO's EMMY Winning Drama, Boardwalk Empire. Justiin played the role of Lester White, who was the middle child of Chalky (Micahel Kenneth Williams) and Lenore White, their only son. Lester was a great student and accomplished piano player on his way to Morehouse College. He was a son to a man who was a gangster and bootlegger and his dad liked to keep his family indoors and private most of the time, which led Lester to be confined to their home and keep them out of Chalky's dirty work and portrayed his family as the "perfect picture." to everyone else, but what happens behind closed doors is a different story. Boardwalk Empire went on to win numerous awards including Emmy's for directing, acting, best ensemble and set design. The show even took home a GRAMMY for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Motion Picture/Television.
What drew you to your last project “PATIENCE’”on Broadway ?
Outside of the phenomenal writer and director I was drawn to the play because of its story. It’s something I’ve never seen portrayed on Broadway or off Broadway before. A play as complex, specific and detailed as “Patience” is one that I was so honored to be a part of. It’s not only intelligent it’s also visceral and has such raw and real human archetypes that literally leapt off the page when I first read the play. In my eyes Johnny G. Loyd is a literal mastermind of language and wordplay and as soon as this play is published everyone should grab a copy!
Is this your first Broadway play? If not, what was your first play?
Yes, ‘Patience’ was my theatrical debut, but I was raised in the theater though. I began training at about ten years old. From there I ended up going to PPAS then Brooklyn College where I received a BFA in acting.
How did you prepare yourself for the role?
Preparing for a role in theater is a lot different from preparing for a TV or film role. Prior to rehearsal I began work on learning Solitaire in a more formal way. From there I did a deep dive into character analysis and script breakdown that way by day one of rehearsal the homework would be done and the class work could begin. Then we went into a three week rehearsal process and opened soon after.
Is this your first time in an all African American starring play? How does it feel to be a part of such an amazing line up of actors?
My first time in this capacity, yes! It’s been such a trilling process and even more rewarding to play with this group on a day to day basis. Johnny G. Lloyd is such a brilliant writer and Zhailon Levingston is such a genius and giving director. He understands actors and gives us so much to play with. Then there’s the stellar Zainab Barry, Jonathan Burke, Nemuna Ceesay and Mary Hodges. They are literally an actors dream when it comes to crafting and partner work. I’m so grateful to have been in this play but even more grateful that I got to do it with each of them, and to top it off in the same season that 2nd Stage just won the Tony? All I know is dreams come true af!
How did it feel to briefly be apart of the cool series “The Boys," on Amazon?
I’m so grateful to be apart of a show and franchise like “The Boys”. To be mixed into their world and receive the love and support that I have is something I will never take for granted. I grew up dreaming of one day pursuing a career like this. Praying and training and working to be accepted into a community I grew such a respect for. So, fast forward to now, to be standing next to some of the baddest super hero’s on the planet, for any amount of time, I am forever appreciative and it is one of my surrealist dreams come true.
Which character of the “The Boys” is your favorite and why?
Well, if I had to choose one of the actual ‘boys’, I’d say MM. He’s a family man and all about honoring the pride of his bloodline. He’s who you want in your corner and someone you can count on until the end. Laz also kills it as MM! I know there’s no way a 1984 Stan Edgar could work with a current day Mothers Milk but perhaps there will be another project someday. I guess a guy can only hope. Now, if you mean my favorite superhero on the show how can you not have a huge heart for Black Noir. Frtizy Klevans Destine and Nathan Mitchell both absolutely bodied one of the most iconic superheroes today!
What other projects are you working on that you would like to share?
Well, I’ve got something in the can and something on the burner [laughs].
What I cansay is next I’ll be doing a play for 2nd Stage called “Patience” written by Johnny G. Lloyd and directed by Zhailon Levingston. We’ll be running off-Broadway, 8 shows a week, through the month of August — at the McGinn/Cazale theatre in New York City.
Let's get personal, where do you call home? Where were you raised?
Home is love. Home is peace. Home is where you ground and find you center. Brooklyn has always been home to me. That’s where I was born and raised!
What inspires you in life? What inspires me?
I’m inspired by so many things such as Fine Art ,Fashion , great performances and masterfully crafted forms of story telling. [Try saying that 10x fast!] People. New York City.. Family. Places of visual cinematic suspense. Museums and music, of course. Friends, travel, and of course new challenges… It’s important to never become too comfortable. Continue to challenge yourself! We already know what’s on this side of comfortability. What happens if you step out of that ‘comfort zone,' push through the challenge, learn from it and grow?
We won’t know unless we take the first step.That’s when growth happens! That’s where all the things and people you’re inspired by influence you to be.
How do you stay humble?
Well, honestly I still live a very humble life. For years I lived where my grandmother raised me. And even though I’ve had a few success’ it hasn’t come without failure, disappointment, and sometimes a dash of self doubt. No passion or career does. Nothing you truly love does. That’s also why family and my close tribe are important. Plus I know the roller coaster of this career. The carpet can be pulled from under your feet at any time. Why be anything but humble. None of this is promised
Whats in your music library right now? What have you taken out because you grew up?
My music library is all over the place but one that thing always remain true. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is still one of the best albums out there. Over covid I got a record player and all for one reason. To hear the way the needle hit the wax over the opening cords of Zion. There’s just something about vinyl that will always captivate and in-trance. And I actually don’t take things out of my music library. They sorta get lost in the abyss of songs. We may grow out of the feeling a song gives us — since music has such a personal connection, but I don’t grow out of songs. It’s actually great hearing them when you haven’t in a while.
It 39’s very nostalgic.
Single and ready to mingle?
Haha, nahh. I’m off the market.
How long have you been in the business and what other hidden talents do you have that we don’t know about?
I’ve actually been in the business since I was three, but at one point I got really shy growing up and pulled away. Then at about 9 or 10 years old I told my aunt I wanted to make a career out of this and we’ve been off to the races ever since. As for a hidden talent, I would have to say skateboarding or long boarding. I used to skate a lot more but now the boards hang on my wall as art.
How can fans support you via social media?
They can always support by following me on Instagram @officialjustiindavis