Cassi Davis on “Madea’s Neighbors from Hell”
Actress Cassi Davis is no stranger to the stage. Her TV and movie credits include Spike Lee’s School Daze, Living Single, and Daddy’s Little Girls. A natural-born comedienne, her role as Ella Payne on the popular TV series House of Payne keeps viewers in stitches each week.
This week, fans will see Davis reprise her role as “Aunt Bam” in the new comedy Madea’s Neighbors From Hell starring Tyler Perry as Madea and Christian/gospel recording artist Wess Morgan. The musical stage play is scheduled for release on DVD (plus Digital Ultraviolet), Digital HD, Video On Demand and Pay-Per-View from Lionsgate Home Entertainment on Tuesday, April 22.
Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with everyone’s favorite “Southern Mama” on how Perry managed to shed light on the serious subject of foster care, her longevity in show biz and her friendship with “Madea.”
JET: What makes this play different from Perry’s other plays?
Cassi Davis: Since 2004, I have learned from Mr. Perry that his theme is the same restoration—laughter—exposure and freedom. He really wants his audience to have fun. This particular one sheds light on our children in foster care. He puts it in the realm of a comedy. When you see the play, I think Madea is the neighbor from hell (laughing). The foster care people have come into the home in between Bam and Madea’s home.
Bam is on the porch going through her regular day—in a neighborhood where you know what’s going on in your neighbor’s house. We basically bust up in her house and detect…you’re not treating these children right. You’re not this and you’re not that. Sometimes there are issues with foster care where [the parents] just do it for the money. It’s an awareness—it’s sad, but he does try to give laughter in it.
JET: To whom or what do you attribute your success?
CS: I really don’t want to be too, too spiritual—but it really is the Lord. I don’t turn down jobs. If I’m already doing one…I can’t do another show. But it seems when one project ends another one is offered, then another one. I don’t have an agent or a manager. I never had any acting classes.
I first started acting when Spike Lee came back to Morehouse and he was doing School Daze, that’s when the bug hit. Chip Fields came to Atlanta—she was doing a play with Vickie Winans. We auditioned for her and she took me to LA in 1991 for two weeks and I stayed for 14 years. When I got to L.A., I said I’m not going back. He really is a good God to me.
JET: Are you and Tyler Perry good friends?
CD: I think he considers me one of his closest closet friends because of the conversations we have. He says, ‘Cassi, I want to put you in my will and I wanna give you my dog.’ I’m like I don’t want no damn dog. But I’ll take it—how much is the dog gonna keep (laughing)? I believe the reason we are so close is because I still revere him as a person. And I do not cross the line asking ‘Tyler can you give me or what can you put me in—you got anything for me?’ He’s free to be himself and I applause his success. I’m not on the sideline trying to jump into the ropes saying ‘..is it my turn?’
JET: What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
CS: I would advise them to really get some sense of who they are before something big happens for them. It is so easy to lose yourself with what’s going on. You have to determine whether you want to be famous or if you want to work. A lot of times, people want to be famous and really don’t care about the work and when you get placed, it shatters your whole dream and mind because your heart was really not for the craft. I love the craft. I love acting, creating and putting in the time to become someone else. I just think that if you are true to the game, then you will play a long time. It has to be your passion. So many things do not happen the way you want to—you must come in and come under.
(Photo Credit: Lionsgate)
In other “Giving You The Gospel” news:
Don’t forget to set your DVRs to TV One for the 22nd Annual Trumpet Awards on Easter Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. The popular award ceremony serves to inspire, educate, stimulate and enlighten. Musical entertainment includes Donnie McClurkin, SWV, Smokie Norful, Stephanie Mills, Joe, Carl Thomas, Avant, Amber Riley, Lyfe Jennings, Billy Paul, Raheem DeVaugh and more. The celebration will be co-hosted by Laz Alonso and Melissa De Sousa.
For the past 20 years, the show continues to highlight the accomplishments of those who contributed to enhancing the quality of life in various fields. The honorees include Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, DeVon Franklin, Alfre Woodard, Kamala Harris, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., The McKissack Sisters, Steve Pemberton, The Bronner Brothers Family and William Sisters.
About Effie Rolfe
Effie Rolfe is a media consultant, personality and speaker. For years, she was the “voice of inspiration” each Sunday morning and middays on Chicago radio. She also speaks at schools, churches and workshops. Effie writes for several publications and is the author of The K(N)ots Prayer. Visit her Website effierolfe.com; like her on mseffierolfe.com and follow her via @effiedrolfe.