by Ian Jerrell
Davetta Sherwood is grace, class, and a little sass personified. The young talented actress has graced our television screen for years. Sherwood got her first big break appearing on #1 Daytime Drama, Young and the Restless back in 2006. She has been hustling doing numerous independent film roles, but now she is back on the small screen with FUSE’s new scripted drama, ‘The Hustle’. Working in entertainment for close to 10 years, Davetta Sherwood knows all about hustling her way through the industry.
What made you get into acting, knowing it would be a 1 in a million chance?
“I don’t remember. People are always asking me that. My mom always said that I would tell her “I want to be on TV!” and she would place me on top of the TV set and I would say “ no, I want to be inside the TV”. I was like 5 or 6 at the time. I always had a special knack for putting on plays and acting. I would put on plays with my cousins and my friends. I was always the director and would stop everything if we messed up. While my mom and her girl friends had cocktails, I would perform these plays I had written at 6 years old.”
So when did you say to yourself, I’m an actress this is what I do?
“I think it was when I was in Annie. I was in a whole bunch of plays throughout middle school and high school. I knew from doing all those plays that this was it. I want do this forever.”
Tell us about your time on ‘The Young & The Restless’. You came on and took over a role someone else was already playing. What’s the back-story behind getting the part of Lily Winters?
“It actually wasn’t a show I had watched before. I had no clue what she was doing with the role previously. I had never seen the show a day [in my life]before I’d come on set. I got the job on a Friday and started that Tuesday. Honestly, I just came in and put my own twist on it. They told me one of the reasons I got the job was because I didn’t cry in my audition. But Lily is too strong to cry. She wouldn’t cry. Drucilla raised her! Why would she [cry]?”
“Christel Khalil, [the actress that previously played Lily Winters]wanted to be a movie star. When you’re on a soap opera, you’re stuck in this contract. You can’t take any other jobs but you’re famous now. All of a sudden, people are making you offers but you can’t take them because you’re stuck in this soap contract. I understood why she wanted to take a break. It’s honestly the same reason I wanted to leave the show.”
So you are known to bring certain swag and sass to the role you play. Is that something you bring naturally or are those the types of roles you go for?
“I do a lot of stuff on the set when it comes to my characters. I’m always surprising the director and the writer. It’s the actor’s choice you know. I make sure I do it different every single take. Whatever they print or edit is usually something that I wrote in. “
Let’s talk about ‘The Hustle’. What made you want to take on the role of Cecile?
“I did a TV show called ‘Platinum’. We did six episodes that didn’t get picked up. It was ahead of its time. It was being compared to the show Entourage. The head of UPN was not prepared to go ahead with the show. When this show came to me I auditioned for the role of Yaya. They turned around and offered me the role of Cecile. I really wanted the part of Yaya. We are shooting in LA but the show is set in New York. I’m from New York. I wear Timberlands. I [hang out with my]homeboys. I am Yaya! At the time, Tim Story was directing the pilot episode with our creator Prentice Penny. They sat me down and said I was the only one who could play the role of Cecile. They said that they were offering it to me for a reason. They’d never even seen me audition for that role. The incentive for me to take that role was all the places I could take the character. [Cecile] has a lot of levels to show. There was a special storyline just for me. I was given the freedom to take her wherever. I’m a very instinctual actress.”
So do you feel that The Hustle is a true reflection of the entertainment industry? Or is the truth stretched more so than often.
“Yes it is! Every actor brings their personal experience to their role, which makes it a true reflection. I think we could get grittier and grimier but with the network were on we push the limits as far as we could go. “
Where are you hoping the writers go with Cecile’s storyline?
“I want to know where she comes from. I want to know who her family is because she seems to be all alone. She really only has Kutta and that baby. There has to be a reason. I want her to do that back and forth with Kutta, that’s fun even in real life. I want to do the breakup and makeups. I want to see more of the relationship with her son. The true dynamic of the relationship, like when she is tucking him into bed at night. [Laughs] I want Cecile to sometimes wear a wrap on her head!”
Your character is a celebrity stylist, and the fashion is ON for your character. Is that your typical style or is that more Cecile?
“Typically, I’m in eyeglasses and sweats but I am going to take all the pieces home [from a photoshoot]and I mean all of them.”
Who are some of your favorite actresses?
“My favorite actresses are Meryl Streep and Jada Pinkett-Smith. You know I’m an actor’s actor. So if you have been on ‘Inside The Actor’s Studio’, I’m into you. I’m a Bradley Cooper and Denzel Washington fan as well.”
What is some great advice you’ve received about acting?
“Denzel gave me some great advice. I’m actually a friend of the family. He has always told me to stay in class. Whether he meant to actually stay in a classroom with physical actors for me that really means always be willing to learn. I’m always learning either it be from set etiquette to actual acting chops. I want to know everything that is going on while I’m on set. I’m always willing to be a student.”
What are some other career aspirations of yours that people don’t know about?
“Well, I do rap and I’m also producing and writing films under my production company Five Foot Nothing Productions. I probably would have been a teacher if I weren’t acting. I really adore children. The last four movies I shot I’ve played a mother of a little boy. That kind of sealed the deal for my current role too, because I really love kids.”
What are some of the roles you wish you could have played? Everyone has the parts that they could have killed if given the chance.
“That’s such a good question. I knew I would have been in Set It Off. I would have loved to play Vivica A. Fox’s character ‘Frankie’. I would have killed that [lead role]in the film Juno. I would have murdered Scandal. Tell Kerry Washington! Give her that tea! [Laughs]”
There are so many women pursuing this thing we call acting but they just can’t seem to land that role. What advice would you give them?
“I mean the first thing is finding your passion. It might not be for you, this might not be your thing. More importantly find your purpose. It’s really an energy and spiritual thing, especially for me. Let’s look at your personal life. Because if you’re a good actor, you’re beautiful, you’re going to classes, and getting auditions. It has to be some kind of energy you’re allowing into your space that is hindering you. The fact that you will not let go of your 9-5. The fear of something is holding you back. A lot of people have a fear of success. I just overcame mine. Drop the fear and become fearless.”