When your passion becomes a reality, everyday can feel like Christmas, with all the bells and whistles.
For Kelowna actor Howard Davis, his burning desire to be an acclaimed actor has come true, but not without some bumps and rough patches along the road.
His first brush with the stage was under the watchful eye of local thespian Vivian Hughes, when Davis was five years old.
“My family were always heavily involved in the arts, the arts scene, although neither was on stage,” Davis said. “But myself and my siblings are all in the business and I’ve just been so taken by acting that I knew from a very young age this is what I wanted to pursue.”
His association with acting was solidified when he skillfully played the charismatic pickpocket Artful Dodger in the Theatre Kelowna production of Oliver, a version directed by Randy Leslie who later co-founded Kelowna Actors Studio.
At 17, Davis decided to audition for entrance into several acting schools, and was accepted in the prestigious Ryerson Theatre School in Toronto.
Immersed in the work of acting, he studied “everything from Shakespeare to clown” and found the truth of acting is to become so good, “it all looks effortless to the audience.”
His skills melded acting, singing and dancing, and this year he landed a spot with the Shaw Festival for the upcoming season, serving up Pygmalion and Sweet Charity.
“It really is a great opportunity,” Davis said. “The Shaw Festival is the second largest repertory company in North America. It’s humbling in a way, and although I am coming in as part of the ensemble, it’s very exciting and proof that my hard work has paid off.
“At times, I feel like the world is my oyster. I plan to keep my feet wet and do everything that I can. Acting is great, and I’ve found a sense of ease in the work.”
Davis has had the opportunity to use all of his skills on stage, and has also gone on to do work in film and television.
Most recently he had a small role in the yet-to-be-aired TV series of Twelve Monkeys, a Hollywood movie that starred Brad Pitt in 1996.
“It was a very small role, like about 30 seconds, but I get to kill a principal character — that’s about it,” he laughed. “The series is a time-travel show, so when we wrapped up, one of the directors thanked us and added that you never know what might happen and said ‘we might be seeing you guys again soon.’ I don’t think so, but you never know.”
Last year, Davis was a cast member in the Canadian premiere of American playwright Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play. The cast won the esteemed Dora Award for best ensemble, and the play was honoured with several other awards and set precedence in the theatre and arts scene in Toronto for an innovative production.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to pursue my dreams, and I’ve been lucky to have strong support, lucky with parents who supported my dreams.
“That’s what it’s about, following your gut and your heart,” he added. “It won’t misguide you.”
In future, Davis hopes to find his way to England, perhaps to “do something with the Royal Shakespearean Theatre. I’d like to do Henry VIII — play him on stage or screen. He was a fascinating person and it would be a great challenge.”