Lex Scott Davis discusses her career, working with Director X and her steamy shower scene in Superfly.
In 1972, Superfly became one of the most notable blaxploitation films of all time. In 2018, Director X has taken on the challenge of remaking this cult classic and bringing it up to date for a whole new era to enjoy. At a recent press day for the film, I had the opportunity to sit down with the lovely Lex Scott Davis to discuss her career, her role as Georgia, and what it was like for her to shoot the steamy shower sex scene with Trevor Jackson and Andrea Londo.
Scott Menzel: Hi Lex, very nice to meet you. Since you’re pretty new to the acting world, I figured we could start this interview off with a little introduction to how you became involved in the industry. I know your first major role was playing Toni Braxton in the Lifetime film, Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart, then you were on the television series, Training Day, and now you’re in Superfly. What was it that made you want to become an actress?
Lex Scott Davis: Okay! Well, first and foremost, I was a dancer before I was an actor. I danced my entire life. Went to college to be a dance physical therapy major. By that point, I think honestly, I kind of started to grow out of it. That thing you do for your parents and for your family, that whole carrying on. By the time I was approaching adulthood, I was realizing that it really wasn’t the career I wanted for myself. So, I left school and I went on to start an acting program in New York City. I only had the one-year worth of acting training in New York before I moved to LA, with no prior representation, no prior work or anything like that. By the time I got here within maybe the first couple of months, I got my manager, Genevieve Penn, who I’m still with. Just her and I, in terms of getting the Toni Braxton role. That was my first role, first feature, first time leading a story, and quite frankly, first time learning the business from a first-hand experience. I didn’t even know how to read a call sheet at that point.
I also booked that within my first year of living in LA. So, yes. It all happened so fast. On the same call where I learned that I booked the film, I was also informed that I was going to Vegas the next day to meet Toni Braxton at her show. So the first time I met Toni Braxton, she pulled me onstage in Vegas and that was my first time meeting her. It was bonkers. I was still trying to play catch-up from even booking the job in the first place because that was a long process. I think I went in for that maybe four or five times before they actually booked me. And, just be like, “Hey! You booked it, and you’re going to meet her in Vegas tomorrow,” it’s like,”wait, what?” So, by the time she pulled me onstage, I was just at a loss for words. I was just so grateful and so happy to be there, and we shot that film in Canada, almost three years ago now, and everything moved rapidly fast from that point on.
Scott Menzel: Wow. That’s insane. That’s a pretty incredible story. I mean, it’s just like beat by beat by beat. Everything just kind of fell into place for you which is something you don’t hear very often so a big congratulations.
Lex Scott Davis: (Laughs) Yes, I know. It was crazy.
Scott Menzel: So, you played a musical legend and now, you’re in a remake of one of the most popular of the blaxploitation films.
Lex Scott Davis: Yes. Yes.
Scott Menzel: Did you have any reservations going into it? I know that you didn’t see the original, or you did not see the original before reading this script. But, now that you have watched the original, do you have any reservations about doing this remake?
Lex Scott Davis: No, and I’m actually glad that I made the choice not to watch it while I filmed it because with doing remakes you want to be your own original person and what you can bring to the character. I know everyone wants to be quick to compare, but I don’t think it serves you as an actor to try to put that pressure on yourself to be someone you’re not. Yes, it’s the same role, but I am Lex Scott Davis and I am going to bring a completely different spin on all of the characters that I ever read. You know, if the script landed in someone else’s hands, she would have her own different take on it, and that’s just our truth, you know? So I made a choice to not watch it before filming it or during the process of filming it, so I could put the 2018 version of Georgia together for my own way, and of course with the help of Director X. Now that I’ve seen it, again, I’m glad that I didn’t watch it, because perhaps there would have been some reservation, just because of the lack of female dominance in the original story which is okay, and it worked at that time, but I don’t believe that it would have worked for now. And so I’m happy for the approach we had with this version of Georgia, and the character of Cynthia, and really seeing women on the same level and playing field as the men.
Scott Menzel: Speaking about that, your character has a dual role in this movie, she works for the mayor, but she’s also invested in Superfly. What was that like playing a character that kind of had to be part of the lives of two bad people in this movie? They each have their good sides because they’re setting out to do the right thing but they both are bad guys too. What was it like dividing yourself between two characters? I feel like you had to be one way with the mayor and one way with Superfly.
Lex Scott Davis: Exactly. And I think, like any woman in the workforce, you have to know how to be a chameleon. You have to know who you’re sitting in front of, when it’s time to be relaxed and when it’s time to put that thinking cap on, you know what I mean? It’s time to be a boss. And like that of cultures, you know. There’s a way you’ll speak to your parents that you wouldn’t speak in a workplace, for me, and vice versa. And she is so smart and so intelligent that she’s completely aware of herself, and when which time is the right time to be what she needs to be to serve that moment. I believe that, although she isn’t, you know, completely in agreeance with what Priest does for a living, she loves him and she will support him. But she also sees him as a higher person, so when he comes to her with this news that he wants out of this business, she’s like, “All right, I will help you get there, and let’s figure it out together.” And if there’s anything she can do, she’ll do that to help move him forward. So, yeah, I think it’s just a matter of knowing where you are and what your surroundings are, and what version of yourself you need to bring in that moment.
Scott Menzel: Yeah. I hate to ask this, but the scene that shocked me in the movie, in terms of being very explicit, was the shower scene. Was that really jarring and daunting to do that scene? I was surprised at how explicit that scene was for a studio film. It was something that I felt I would see in an independent film. But I was really kind of surprised by where it went. It was one of two scenes where the audience at my screening really reacted too and it kind of got an odd applause at the end of it.
Lex Scott Davis: It’s hot! It is hot, you know.
Scott Menzel: Oh, it totally is but as an actress who is just starting out was that difficult for you to do that?
Lex Scott Davis: No, it wasn’t difficult, because if you paid close attention, I didn’t bare myself.
Scott Menzel: Right, there wasn’t any nudity in the scene.
Lex Scott Davis: Yeah, I didn’t at all, and I am so fortunate for a crew and producer and director like X and Joel, who were very involved in making that the most comfortable process they could ever make it for me. We just built the utmost respect for each other, and just kind of bonded through that whole moment, because before we even shot it, when I read the script, that was something that was flagged for me. I wanted to bring it up. “Upon moving forward, let’s talk about this. Let’s figure out a way that it can be shot without exposing myself but still telling the story and being just as sexy as everyone needs it to be, but I don’t have to bare myself.” And they were like, “Okay, that is fine.” And so we actually did a number of rehearsals were- fully clothed!- and, just worked through each beat. X allowed the three of us, me, Andrea and Trevor, to talk it through. “Let’s figure out choreography,” he would say. It was completely choreographed. It was a dance. We figured it out with clothes on, you know, who goes where, when what happens, and how do we look out for each other and cover each other when we need to so it was very strict. X would say, “We’re going to get this down to a T, it’s a choreographed dance where nothing will be exposed.” They figured out how to shoot around it. What I love about the scene, unlike some other love scenes that I’ve done in the past, it that it is all shot through glass, so there is this threshold that you never get too close for comfort, and that’s what I actually really appreciated about it. We made it more of a visual art piece than it was something raunchy or something that was explicit. It actually was very beautiful. Also, in the editing process, they allowed me to come to Sony, sat me down, watched the edit, and asked for me to approve it.
Scott Menzel: That’s terrific, I am glad that they allowed you to approve of the edit.
Lex Scott Davis: And that is a type of respect we built and that they had for me on set. It was just, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, especially as you know, this being, like you said, a studio feature and, there are … I don’t know a studio feature that doesn’t have a love scene, but the fact that this was my first studio feature love scene, and this process went way smoother and better than I ever could have hoped for. And to even, again, watching that edit, my first response was, “It’s beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful.” The way that it was cut to the music, the score was amazing. It was in slow-motion. It was hiding certain parts that needed to be hidden, and they really respected that wish from me. So I’m happy with it.
Scott Menzel: Great. I do think it’s very effective without showing anything and it gets the point across by being a very sexy moment in the film. Switching gears a bit, when working on this film and working with Director X, who is very well-known for his work on various music videos, what was it like working with him on set?
Lex Scott Davis: Director X is an artist in every way, shape, and form. I’ve known X for years. Actually, he directed one of the first commercials I did when I moved to LA and still didn’t even have representation at that point. I kind of just stumbled upon the audition online, and from that point on we’ve always crossed paths in the business and it wasn’t pertaining to movies and acting. He did the music thing and I have an uncle who’s in the industry, so we have a lot of mutual friends, so, for us to cross paths on movie-making terms was a major thing for us. We just had this utmost respect for each other and we’re each other’s cheerleaders, to be honest.
This was the first studio feature for him, it’s not my first one that I’ve shot but it is the first one that will come out for me, so we do have this same exchange and this bonding moment that we’re getting through this together. If there’s a quality of his directing that worked better for a music video that wasn’t really clicking as an actor, we could talk about it, you know what I mean? And we could just figure out how to make each other grow throughout this process together. So it was really, really awesome. The other thing, too, which was an added component that I’ve never received from a director, is how much homework he had done before arriving to set. X took the time out to make these packets, literally for every character, breaking down their characteristics, whatever he thought their horoscope would be, their background, their personalities based on numerology, which he’s really into. He’s really into psychology. And he took the time to put these packets, these reports, on every single character, and I’ve never gotten that before. I thought that was awesome. That was … I mean, it’s something I wish for moving forward. Just really breaking it down to the point that when we get started, there’s no question as to who this character is, you know who this character is. Now you just have to apply all of this backstory to what it is in the script.
Scott Menzel: Sounds like a great working relationship, and then, one last question, did you shoot Superfly and The First Purge back-to-back?
Lex Scott Davis: I did. I shot the Purge first.
Scott Menzel: Oh, really?
Lex Scott Davis: Yes, oo that’s what I mean, it was all kind of tricky.
Lex Scott Davis: So, The First Purge is technically my first studio feature. However, Superfly is coming out before the Purge.
Scott Menzel: What did you think the difference was, working on those two films? I mean, you have two very iconic producers that you’ve now have working with; Jason Blum and Joel Silver. And then you have two directors, Gerard McMurray and Director X. So, when shooting two studio films, back to back, what was the differences for you between the films?
Lex Scott Davis: The main difference is one is a thriller and is an action movie. The Purge was a lot more raw and gritty, and you know, dirty. There was nothing beautiful about it. It’s an awesome story, it’s a story that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. But then going from that, and coming to, you know, this star-studded town with this amazing nightlife like Atlanta, then having Rick Ross as part of the cast and having Future do the music. Having Big Boi, it was star-studded, down from the clothes, the music, and the locations were insane. Even our table read was like a press conference. And so, it was just a very different experience, but I value both, for two different reasons and I will never forget these experiences. I just think Superfly is so star-studded. It’s glamorous. Joel puts the extra cherry of glamor on top of everything he does. This was definitely that Hollywood movie that feels like what you always hear about when you’re growing up.
Scott Menzel: That’s awesome. Well, thank you very much.
Lex Scott Davis: Thank you!
Scott Menzel: Congratulations again on two films back to back and good luck with both of them.
Lex Scott Davis: Thank you so much.