Veteran Actress Cassi Davis has shared the screen with the likes of Spike Lee, Eddie Murphy, Tyler Perry and many others. Her works on stage, television and film span nearly thirty years. These days she’s known as Aunt Bam in many of Tyler Perry’s plays and movies but she’s best known for her role in another Tyler Perry production, the TV show House Of Payne where she plays the lovable God fearing Aunt Ellen Payne.
More recently, Cassi Davis lent her voice as Aunt Bam [pictured above, center] for the very first Tyler Perry animation, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Tough Love which is now available on DVD and VOD. I was able to catch up with Miss Davis, who was gracious enough to sit down with Parlé Magazine to discuss her career, her new film and her charity works.
Parlé Magazine: People may know you best from many of Tyler Perry’s productions, but where else might people have seen you and might know you from?
Cassi Davis: That’s basically where people can find me is with a Tyler Perry Production. I started my onscreen acting career in the Spike Lee film School Daze back in the 1980s. I’ve done the The PJs with Eddie Murphy and a few small parts in shows like The Parkers, Moesha and Living Single.
Parlé: How did you get started in acting?
Cassi Davis: I was in Spellman College doing a play. Someone from Morehouse College really liked the play and invited me to come up and do the play there. It just so happened that Spike Lee came down to Morehouse during homecoming and was in attendance during one of my plays and he really liked me so he cast me in his film School Daze. I fell in love with acting and knew that’s what I wanted to do. I love being able to bring a script, especially my characters to life.
Parlé: Tyler Perry has obviously been one of your biggest supporters, how did you two meet?
Cassi Davis: I was doing a play for a friend in California, Tyler Perry came to that play and he liked me in it so he wanted me to be in his play back in 2004. For a while I was hesitant to do it because the whole man in a dress thing, (Madea) but I did it and it became a success. Then he came up with a television show (House Of Payne) and he wanted me to be a part of that as well.
Parlé: Let’s talk about the latest project, Tyler Perry’s animated debut, Madea’s Tough Love. Tell me about it.
Cassi Davis: It’s Tyler Perry first animated movie starring Tyler Perry as Madea, I do the voice of Aunt Bam. In this movie, Madea has a hilarious run in with the law and is sentenced to community service at a community center with a bunch of troubled kids in the projects who’ve been through so much in life already. Madea shows them a different type of love, a tough love so that they not only come to love her but themselves as well.
Parlé: What is your definition of tough love?
Cassi Davis: To me tough love is the type of love that’s so unspoken of but so needed especially in these trying times of ours. I know a lot about it because I’ve spent a good majority of my career and time working with children who are in need of guidance and love. I’ve been able to meet so many people and they’ve told me about how I’ve changed their lives and it’s so inspiring. I’m always giving back because I have been blessed to have so much.
Parlé: Speaking about giving back, I know you have a charity, can you tell us about it?
Cassi Davis: I just launched it back in November 2014. OnePlate America is a nonprofit organization created by me, to inspire and enlighten youth across the country. It’s an organization designed to bridge the gap between education and life experiences for youth between the ages of 15 to 17 nationwide. The main goal of this program is to highlight cultural arts, proper etiquette, financial development, public speaking, literacy and travel.
Parlé: How did the name OnePlate American come about?
Cassi Davis: This particular concept came about with the idea that we could all eat off one plate if we were all willing to share and give back. No matter who you are and what you’ve been through or are going through, we are of one mind and body.
Parlé: That’s an amazing concept. Keep up the quality work. On another note, do you have any words of advice for the readers?
Cassi Davis: I don’t want anyone to think that just because someone’s on TV that’s when they’ve made it. I graduated from Spellman College and I’ve been on TV for 21 years, but having that degree has meant so much more to me than any TV show, movie or play.
Readers can learn more about Cassi Davis’s charity OnePlate America at www.oneplateamerica.org.
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Tough Love is available on DVD & VOD now.