King Kong's, Kayla Davion
King Kong Broadway
Kayla Davion is currently performing in Broadway’s King Kong. Below she answered questions about her journey as an actor, as well as her journey so far with King Kong.
Q: What is King Kong about? How would you describe the show to someone looking to see it?
A: King Kong is about testing your moral compass in the times where it matters the most. It’s about being a warrior. This girl, Ann Darrow, becomes a woman throughout this play by learning what it means to decide between societies views and her own soul. She learns that through the friendship that she’s built with Kong. It also shows this idea of being an “Other” and how the world has to let go of the fear of being an other and grasp onto the wonder of what being an other means. Through that you find strength. You find your own warrior inside.
Q: What are some similarities between the show and the film?
A: Well, there are actually a lot of similarities between the show and the film. Clearly, we keep Kong and the Cobra in both, and we also keep the whole skull island there and the capturing of Kong. The storyline is also very similar, we just have gotten rid of the damsel in distress and the man saving her.
Q: What is your role in King Kong? Do you understudy any additional roles?
A: I am in the Ensemble and I understudy the leading role, Ann Darrow.
Q: What is your favorite song to perform from King Kong?
A: My favorite song to perform would have to be Queen of New York. It is apart of the opener and is about 7 minutes long. It has a bunch of tricks and craziness happening on stage to bring the audience into the world of New York City and how Ann definitely has a hard time with her first day there.
Q: Do you have any pre-show rituals to prepare and warm up for King Kong’s intense choreography?
A: I start warming up an hour before the show begins. My warm-up consists of a lot but mainly jump roping and humming or singing a song so that I can get my heart rate up and make sure my breath is prepared for the intense choreo and singing that happens within the first number, and also some stretching! I also started a ritual where 2 minutes before places I yell at the cast to circle up so that we can all take a moment to breathe together in the space and pray. We also always dedicate the show to someone or something afterward and we do a movement that is called duck tale in the space to unify us together before we go to our separate sides to start the show.
Q: How did you get into theatre? Was there someone who inspired you to become an actor?
A: I got into theatre by doing this all-state Production of Memphis the Musical. I got asked by a theatre teacher J.R Rose to audition for the show. All-State theatre basically is when you and multiple students from all over the state put together a musical and perform it at a huge theater festival. It was the inspiration as to why I chose theatre for the rest of my life. I had never seen an African American woman play a lead before and I didn't know that there was theatre that talked about Love and Music and how both played a part together in the world. It was nothing less of beautiful.
Q: When was your Broadway debut? What show was it in, and who did you play?
A: My Broadway Debut was May 2017. I was in Waitress the Musical and I was in the Ensemble and Understudying one of the leading roles, Dawn.
Q: What was it like auditioning for King Kong? How long after the audition did it take for you to hear you were cast?
A: The audition process for me was very different than most of the ensemble only because I was specifically going in for the Understudy roll of Ann Darrow. My initial audition was pretty rough in my opinion. It was during a week where I had a lot going on and was extremely exhausted. It was very short as well. I got to pick which song I wanted to do between “Last of our King” and “Scream for the Money.” Of course being the Ballad lover that I am, I chose “Last of our Kind.” Did very well on the song, but the scene was a different story. My acting was definitely not in the right place that day. However, they called me back anyway and I decided that I was going to do whatever I needed to do to make sure that this callback was not like my initial one. The callback was the first week of March, and when I say I was more than prepared, I mean it. I studied my butt off and was memorized to the Tee. It was only 3 girls including myself in the Callback which shocked me because I assumed there would be a bunch more people. Nope, this was the final one. We did two different movement calls first and then came back in one by one to go over both songs and scenes. I remember feeling so good about my choices overall and I also got complimented on my preparedness. It was honestly one of the best auditions I had ever had! I walked out of that audition thinking I definitely kilt it so at this point it doesn’t matter if I get it. I asked my agents that if I did not receive the roll I wanted to get notes on what I could do to improve as an actress. I got the call mid-April saying that the notes I got on the audition were that I booked it!
Q: What do you think makes King Kong the show that it is? (music, costumes, actors, etc.)
A: I think what makes King Kong the show that it is has to do with the overall spectacle, choreography, and cast. I mean when I say I have never been in a production quite like this one! From the LED screen that makes up the entire stage to Kong himself, it is just beautiful to look at! The lighting and visuals used to make up this show are so captivating to the eye. Also, the choreography is quite moving. Everything has a purpose. It is not your normal staging piece. The movement is raw and rugged while still containing fluidity. It defines the brave and tough streets of New York as we see today. And one of the best things about this show is the cast. This is a team of superheroes I like to say. The work that is done by the team on stage is unlike anything I’ve seen. The show depends on the teamwork of every single individual on stage. It cannot be done without the trust of the person standing next to you. It provides the real sense of family.
Q: Do you think that through the choreography and music you’ve learned for the show, you find yourself a little in each role or song you perform in?
A: For sure, I think that this show forces me to dig a little deeper into myself to show the sides that I myself get scared to show people. As an actor, it challenges me to show my ruggedness and also my softer side.
Q: How does it make you feel to see the love and support surrounding King Kong and other shows you’ve been in?
A: I will always be so grateful for the community that Broadway has. The fans in each show I’ve done thus far have been so loving and kind and supportive. And even on a bad they make you feel like you are the luckiest person in the world and remind you why you do what you do.
Q: Do you think where you’re from affected you and your acting journey?
A: Absolutely. I’m from the Suburbs of Chicago. I’ve had some very great memories in life and also some rough ones. I’m the first person in my family to graduate. My family and my situations pushed me to make sure that I would be the very best in whatever career I chose. I’m making sure that continues to happen. And my family is making sure of that as well so shout-out to them!
Q: At what age did you know that you wanted to pursue acting as a career?
A: Age 18
Q: If you could play any other role past present (maybe future) would you play and why?
A: I would choose Felicia in Memphis. It was the show that made me decide to do Acting as a career. I would love to impact the show some more and really dig into what was happening at that period.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
A: This is the advice I give in every interview I do because it is so important and will always ring true in my opinion. You have to know and continuously remind yourself that YOU ARE ENOUGH. No matter how many affirmations are given in the world, the only one that truly matters is how you feel about yourself. What you believe about yourself is ultimately what everyone else will see as you walk through society. You are the only one who can truly believe that you are capable of anything and everything. Also, you have to DO THE WORK. That is what sets you apart from the person standing next to you. Your work is your dedication to yourself that you will see your dreams through.