EXCLUSIVE: Vernon Davis on Hollywood Competition and Rejection, Marvel/DC interests, the NFL and more

Former NFL Star Vernon Davis has continued to display his "star quality" in the entertainment world too. In this interview, he shares tidbits from his Hollywood career, experiences, and interests.
Vernon Davis Photo. Image Credit to Overtime PR.
Vernon Davis Photo. Image Credit to Overtime PR. /

Leaving behind an NFL legacy worth remembering, Vernon Davis has moved on to the show business phase of his life, where consistency and new challenges are keeping him afloat. Davis, who is an NFL player-turned-actor is well-versed in dealing with the intense competition and performance pressure, that come at every stage of these competitive industries. Although Davis has a long run ahead of him in the entertainment industry, he has always displayed "star quality" and hard work in his every pursuit.

Recently, I have had the privilege to speak with the iconic former NFL player, Vernon Davis. He gave me some valuable insight into his journey in the entertainment industry, Hollywood inspiration, his experience working with Morgan Freeman, starring in superhero franchises, his favorite upcoming project, and much more.

But before that, let's take a quick stroll through Davis' transition from the NFL to show business. In 2020, Davis took to X (formerly Twitter) to reveal his decision to retire his NFL jersey, after playing in 14 seasons. From being passionate about football since his high-school days to being a competitive tight-end for the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, and Washington Redskins, his football journey was indeed commendable.

Side-by-side during his NFL run, a passion for acting sparked in him, after attending an acting class at the Shelton Theater of Art in Downtown San Francisco. From that point on, he explored his love for acting, by starring in a couple of films, such as The Ritual Killer alongside Morgan Freeman. Moreover, he also got involved in producing movies, by launching two companies, Reel 85 and Between the Lines Productions.

Davis is a true example of how consistency, hard work, and a will to try new things can take you a long way in your pursuits. Now, without further ado, let's get straight into our interview.

What was the most difficult part of your transition from football to the entertainment space?

Learning something new is always going to come with challenges. However, the hardest thing about doing anything new is taking the first step, and that’s mainly because we instinctively fear the unknown. But if we muster up the courage to take the first step, then the new skill becomes much clearer and easier.

I LOVE to learn new things. Nothing feels more validating than realizing how far you’ve come since starting something new.

During your early stages of acting career, did you face any kind of rejection in the industry that kind of discouraged you? If yes, how did you deal with it?

Of course! Rejection is a way of life if you’re an actor, particularly in the audition room. It’s just the way it goes. But it should never be a reason to give up. Audition rejection can be a very important learning tool, particularly when you’re just starting out.

Lady Gaga only became a singer because no one would take her seriously as an actress. Her now oft-repeated quote from the A Star Is Born press tour says it all: “There can be 100 people in the room and 99 don’t believe in you, but all it takes is one.”

Is there any personality from Hollywood that you really admire or that serves as your inspiration?

Denzel Washington is one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors and his name is synonymous with some of the great films of our time. From his humble beginnings to his rise to superstardom, he has captivated audiences with so many powerful performances and an unwavering commitment to his craft. I’d absolutely love to share the screen with him one day.

Whether you’re an athlete or an actor, the pressure to put on the best show is always there. How do you tackle it specifically as an actor?

Pretty much the same way I did as a football player. It’s all about being prepared, which significantly eases the pressure. You have to be prepared before you go in front of the camera just like you have to be fully prepared before you take the field on Sunday. I started to realize this almost immediately after getting into acting.

It’s one thing to be able to just get a script and think you can go in there and just nail it. You have to put in the work just like anything else. You can’t be fully prepared for anything unless you do the work. It’s just so similar to football.

I’ve read somewhere that you want to star in a superhero movie. In this context, do you like any of the superhero movies or characters? If yes, would you ever be open to the opportunity of starring in any superhero franchises?

Ideally, I’d like to create a superhero character of my own to play in an original movie. I wouldn’t be able to fly, but I’d be able to jump, lift and throw anything, and punch really fast. I’d also be able to move wind and air. That said, I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to play a superhero in the Marvel or D.C. cinematic universes.

While signing any project, whether producing a movie or acting in it, what kind of project intrigues you more? The projects that make you go, “Yessss, this is what I want to do.”

While I find myself drawn to sci-fi and drama, I love to do anything that combines intriguing characters, fantastical environments, and relatable themes. Pretty much anything that delivers adventures the whole family can enjoy.

Competitiveness is something that resides in every player. How well are you dealing with the demands and intense competition of the entertainment industry?

The love to compete runs in my veins. There’s nothing more exciting than to put yourself out there and challenge yourself. Just like in football, there’s a ton of talent in the entertainment industry. I focus on what I need to do and understand that the only way for me to truly evolve as an actor is through repetition and consistency. Everything else will take care of itself.

Is there any lesson, or advice from your NFL days that you have carried through your acting career or applied to your other ventures?

Football has allowed me to be a perfectionist. It taught me to put in hard work as far as repetition and consistency. And with that, you can take that same formula and put it to anything and everything. And that’s what I try to do when it comes to my acting career. It’s just putting in the time – it’s not about the money, it’s not about anything, it’s all about being able to set your mind to something and accomplish that specific task.

You've worked with Morgan Freeman in The Ritual Killer; how was your experience? Did he give you any wise advice, or did you learn anything from the Oscar-winning star?

Morgan Freeman is a legend, an icon, and working with him was truly amazing! There’s really no other way to put it. At one point during filming, I thought: “It’s not going to get any better than this. This might be the best movie that I ever do.”

Honestly… Every moment working alongside Morgan was a lesson. One of my biggest takeaways from the experience was to be the best version of yourself. You’ll always be at the right time and place if you follow your gut. Most importantly, he encouraged me to understand and appreciate the journey.

There are a lot of your projects that are currently in pre- and post-production, per IMDB. Out of them, is there any favorite one that you’re excited for the world to see? And could you share some details about it with us?

I’m not sure when Don’t Feed the Children is set to be released, but you’re not gonna want to miss it! Directed by Destry Allyn Spielberg and toplined by Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery, the apocalyptic thriller follows a group of orphans who head south in search of a new life after a viral outbreak that ravages the country’s adult population, only to find themselves at the mercy of a deranged woman harboring a dangerous secret. 

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