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Faces of South - Student Profile

Kamal Davis: Pride Rock to Performing Arts Academy

Kamal Davis

March 21, 2017

Even if you don’t consider yourself a thespian at heart, most people can remember their first brushes with the sights and sounds of the theatre. Maybe it was shimmying into that moth-eaten pilgrim costume for the annual Thanksgiving pageant, or smearing your face with grease make-up for your high school’s latest ramshackle production; baring your soul on any sized stage takes nerve, confidence and a lot of practice. So imagine making your theatrical debut on a much, much larger scale.

“It was probably the most intimidating, nerve-wracking thing I’ve done in my entire life,” says South Seattle College student Kamal Davis, 18, who earned his acting chops starring as a young Simba in a professional Las Vegas production of The Lion King at just 14-years-old. “But I wouldn’t give up that experience for anything.”

For two months, Kamal performed alongside a cast of seasoned professional actors, taking in their advice and learning their techniques. It was only afterwards he says, “I knew I wanted to become an actor when I grew up.”

“My favorite thing about Lion King was just performing onstage in front of these huge crowds every night,” says Kamal. “I loved seeing how people reacted during the show, and related to what they were seeing onstage.”

Kamal moved to Seattle from Los Angeles to live with his father in 2014, and continued acting throughout high school. Wanting to attend college, he applied for South’s 13th Year Promise Scholarship program, seizing the opportunity of free in-state tuition for his first year.

“I knew I wanted to go to college, but at first I really didn’t think that was an option for me,” says Kamal, who has just completed his first year. “I’m really thankful for the 13th Year program, it definitely kept me on the right path, and introduced me to so many people here at South.”

In June, Kamal will transfer to the esteemed American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMAD) in Los Angeles. The academy, with notable alumni Jason Derulo, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Janelle Monáe, among others, has an extensive audition and enrollment process. For his audition, Kamal performed a monologue from the stage play “Fences.” The show centers on the African American experience of the 1950s, and a father who refuses to allow his son to play football in lieu of a more traditional career. Kamal could identify immediately as a young black man aspiring to enter a career path without the complete backing and support of his friends or family.

During his time at South, Kamal says he has strengthened his ability to relate and collaborate, especially in classrooms with younger and older students. It is a skill he’ll take with him to AMAD and the stage.

“Being able to make connections and understanding how people with different experiences talk, move and think is really important as an actor,” says Kamal. “I’m glad I got my start at South, it’s pushed me to become a better student and hopefully a better actor.”