Since her starring mainstream debut in Lifetime’s Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart, the career of Lex Scott Davis has snowballed into an awe-inspiring path — one where the possibilities are endless. After choosing to pursue acting full time, the Baltimore, Maryland native booked gigs that catapulted her name into the spotlight. Her recent projects speak to Lex’s lasting craft and clear-cut skills that breathe a different type of ambiance into the characters she embodies. Now that her most recent project Sweet Girl has arrived on Netflix, Schön! sat for an exclusive chat with Davis to talk about her path into acting, her recent projects, her creative drive, and more.
What have you been up to these last few weeks now that things are opening up again?
I’m actually currently in North Carolina, and I’ve been here for two weeks starting a new project, a new show for Netflix. So, I’m in production right now. It’s weird here, because everyone’s kind of living normal again and in LA, not so much. It’s an adjustment, but I’m still taking the same precautions as I have been the past year and a half. So yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to: getting adjusted to the North Carolina humidity and heat.
You made your feature film debut in two back-to-back studio films, Superfly and The First Purge. Could you talk to me about the events that led up to those moments and where your acting journey began?
I was originally a dancer. I grew up dancing all styles of dance since I was three years old, and was a dance major in college. But in my third year in the school as a dance major, I felt like I reached my cap as a dancer, and I wanted to figure out how I could perform for the rest of my life. I decided to switch into acting because with dance, you get to a certain point where your body doesn’t quite move how it used to, and the opportunities to perform seem to go away with age. Some people become either a choreographer or instructor, and I had zero desire to do either of those. So, I got out of that, transferred schools, and moved to New York and started acting.
By the time I got to LA, I had no representation. I had never had representation. I just kind of did a modelling gig here and there and a couple of stage plays… But I found my manager eventually, Genevieve Penn, and with her is when I got my first real thing, which was the Toni Braxton biopic for Lifetime. She and I have been together ever since. She’s my only manager and probably will only be my manager for as long as she decides she’s in this business. Everything just kind of fell into place ever since that movie. I’ve been working consistently, nonstop, in both television and film. And yeah, [I’m] just super grateful to Genevieve, and the journey, I acknowledge that it happened quite fast. I only moved to LA seven years ago, so I still feel pretty young in my career. So, it’s incredible how quickly things have been able to unfold for me.
Were you able to be creative while stuck at home, and do you think COVID changed your perspective on how you go about work?
Yes. Well, the majority of my pandemic, I became a mom for the first time, so I was pregnant for the majority of my lockdown last year. I got as creative as a pregnant woman could get in terms of home updates and renovations; I love making things and decorating things and cooking. Anything with my hands, that’s my version of being creative. But also, I officially joined my husband in producing with his company, and we’ve been creative in that way as well. So, we’ve been developing a handful of television and film ideas, we’ve adapted books and all kinds of things and have had to go down deep rabbit holes of pitching and selling shows and ideas, so that takes a lot of creativity as well. In addition to that, I was able to film my show that I just had, Rebel on ABC with Katey Sagal and Andy Garcia, as well as film a movie that will be my husband’s directorial debut called A Lot Of Nothing. So, I had two projects during the pandemic as well, so that was cool. Miraculously, I was able to keep busy and all while becoming a mom.
You’re originally from Baltimore, Maryland. How did growing up there influence your career path?
Well, Baltimore in general, I think has a lot of hidden talent and a lot of artistic people and places to foster that. Moreso, in visual arts, there’s a school called MICA, which is a college for art and different programs for inner city kids. I started off in a dance studio that’s not there anymore, but it was called Experimental Movement Concepts, and it was in Hampden. That’s a little town in Baltimore. I also was in the Arena Players, which was a Playhouse for inner city kids — they had summer programs, after school programs. So, my parents kept me busy as it pertained to extracurricular activities and being involved in the arts, and my parents, they’ve always encouraged me to be creative. I was definitely that kid making up dances in the living room and performing them for my parents and my neighbors, and putting on little plays and making silly videos. I was always doing that as a child, and they were all about it, and they allowed me to travel really early for dance. The studio that I mentioned, Experimental Movement Concepts, they had us go to Florida quite a bit, and we danced at Disney… A lot of opportunities came out of my dance class and out of that playhouse in Baltimore that definitely influenced who I am now.
Tell me what goes on in the mind of Lex as she’s trying to get prepared to film a scene — how do you prepare yourself?
Definitely study the script front and back; just know who you are supposed to be and also acknowledge what the other characters are doing and what you want from them and what they want from you. Just kind of get a full scope of the story that we’re all trying to tell. Obviously, we have to know it as if we thought it and we came up with the words ourselves. So, memorisation is very important and also just an overall aesthetic change. It goes hand in hand with being able to speak to the writers or speak to the directors about what they really envisioned for the character, plus what you think the character could be or whatever your essence already is that you can bring to the character. As a woman, so many things go into that; like hairstyle, nail style, nail colour, how she wears her clothes, what type of clothes she’s wearing, are they baggy, are they fitted, is she wearing heels? All of these types of things inform who the person is, and it’s all a matter of deep dive conversation with the writer and director in advance. And then after all of that is said and done, I kind of just let everything go. Once you’re on set, once you’re filming, and once you have your scene partner, you kind of let everything go and just find a flow with your scene partner; like nothing else matters — until you get with that person and you just feed off of each other. That’s when things really come alive.
That’s beautiful. About your short film, Joy & Jim, I think it’s so beautiful, and the acting was superior. Do you prefer short films or feature films?
Honestly, I don’t have a preference, but I do like the independent space because you have more of an ability to be free. I think sometimes when you work for a major company or a major studio, there are so many executives involved in making decisions about who your character is. Sometimes it’s hard to be creative and bring your own edge to that character because you’re serving a very particular purpose. With independent films or short films or anything like that, it’s more of a creative group that comes together as opposed to executives who come together for financial reasons. So, it’s a different genre, and you feel it too — and I love both. I’ve worked for a studio and I’ve worked for independent production companies, but it’s a different energy, it’s a different approach. And yeah, as an actor, you’ve kind of got to learn what you’re getting yourself into so that you can serve the purpose, and so you can be an asset in both genres.
For sure. You’re also starring in a Netflix film called Sweet Girl. Could you talk about your role in the film, and what was it like filming in the middle of a pandemic?
Yeah, so luckily Sweet Girl — we filmed most of it in 2019 and we wrapped early 2020. So, we had just made it before the lockdown. We heard whispers about a potential virus, but it wasn’t as big as what it became at the time, which is great. We were very lucky. We shot that movie in Pittsburgh during the winter. So, we started in the fall and then we stayed throughout the winter, and so we got snow and all the good cold stuff that the east coast brings you. It was a cool opportunity, I mean, I booked that job from a self-tape, which is rare, so it was really shocking when I had got the news that they picked me from just a self-tape. I didn’t have to meet the producer, I didn’t have to meet Jason Momoa, I didn’t have to meet anyone. It was literally just one tape; a couple of weeks went by and I got it.
I play a character named Sarah Meeker. She’s an FBI agent, and she is basically on this case of finding who has been committing a string of crimes and that is all linked to Big Pharma. So, the role pretty much consists of me trying to figure things out and doing a lot of running. When you see the film… you’ll know exactly what I mean. The director was awesome, our DP, cinematographer was absolutely incredible, the producers were fun and it was a big movie, and we had massive green screen days. We had helicopters, and we shut down PNC Stadium and had several hundreds of background extras, which is why I say we were very lucky to be able to shoot this before the pandemic or else we wouldn’t have been able to do those scenes that required so many background extras. I’m really excited for everyone to see it.
Could you give us the scoop on any upcoming projects that you’ve got in the works?
Right now I’m in production for another Netflix show that I’m really excited about. I don’t know if I can say the name just yet, but there are definitely things in the works for Lex, and anyone who has been following my journey or becoming a fan of mine over the years, there’s definitely more coming — and very big.
Sweet Girl is currently streaming on Netflix.