It’s mid-afternoon in Atlanta and Samad Davis is 24 hours away from the American debut of his hit South African feature film comedy Love By Chance. Davis is an international director and producer from Newark, New Jersey who has quietly made a name for himself directing and producing television and movies in Africa as well as Hollywood.
Davis’s projects star top Tinseltown talents such as veterans Danny Glover and Nia Long. You may remember Davis as the director of Three Can Play That Game featuring Vivica A. Fox, Jason George, Jazsmin Lewis, and Tony Rock. He also directed the independent hit Durdy Game starring Tawny Dahl, Janisha Faith, and Jay Barron. As a producer, Davis helmed Criminal Behavior, and the theatrically released Mooz-Lum featuring Long, Glover, and standout Evan Ross. His latest film, Love By Chance is a romantic comedy that will be in two select AMC Theatres from July 28th to August 11th. Those theatres will be AMC Jersey Gardens (Elizabeth, NJ) and AMC Southlake Pavilion 24 (Morrow, GA).
I had the opportunity to sit down with the super talented Samad Davis and talk about his film Love By Chance. The film centers on two aspiring actors from South Africa attempting to crack into the difficult and oversaturated Hollywood industry. The two thespians meet by chance while pursuing their dreams and fall in love. Between the daily struggles of auditioning, daily rejection, self-doubt, financial hardship and crazy friends their love is put to the test. Love By Chance features Altovise Lawrence, Season 1 winner of Davis’s international acting competition, “Top Actor” distributed through BET Africa and Atandwa Kani, who just completed filming Marvel Comic’s “Black Panther.” The international cast includes American actors Terri J. Vaughn (Steve Harvey Show), Clifton Powell (Saints and Sinners, Ray, Menace II Society), and up-and-coming internet sensation/funny man, Desi Banks.
Davis breaks down the reasoning behind the movie’s story:
When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker? You have extensive experience with international productions how did that come about?
My career in international production started in Africa and it allows me to transition into other international markets like Beijing, China, the United Kingdom, and now I am doing production in France. I have ten years of experience in the African market, but four years into the decade, I introduced myself to the television and film into that region of the world. I saw an opportunity to help uplift the quality of production on the continent that included music videos for the top artists in West Africa (Ghana). This was an opportunity for me to network with some of the world’s biggest brands through the music industry.
I am an entrepreneur by trade and became intrigued as a young adult. I began my career in real estate and still involved in the business. I also owned two restaurants one was in New Jersey and the second one was in Harlem on 125th St. The manager of my restaurant in New Jersey came to me one day and informed me that he would be resigning to attend classes in film school. I would run into him again 18 months later at the post office at a point where I was no longer happy being a Restauranteur and decided to leave the restaurant industry for film school. During my time in film school, my thesis film was supposed to be a 12-minute short film, but I ended up going back to Newark, New Jersey, and creating a 45-minute film and then proceed to add some behind the scenes footage. To make the long story short, I could create an hour-long project and started selling it in VHS format from New York to the Deep South.
Where did you attend film school?
Film, Video Arts in Manhattan, New York on Broadway.
Who are some of the director/producers that inspire you?
Spike Lee, John Singleton, Master P, Ice Cube, Will Packer, and Rod Hardy
Image Credit – Samad Davis
What made you want to tell this story, Love By Chance?
I produced a television format “Top Actor South Africa” and it is just like American Idol and the other platforms that are scouting for talent. My platform helps train actors in commercial, film, television, and soap operas. I started this in South Africa and have NOW expanded it to other countries. The show is super cool because we can bring in different Hollywood talents like Anthony Anderson and Erica Ash to name a few into help mentor ours participates. The winner of Season one Altovise Lawrence was also cast in the Love By Chance. The film is about two aspirating South African actors who are independent in America eager to crack into an extremely difficult and over saturated Hollywood industry, meet by chance.
Who are some of the musicians on the Love By Chance Soundtrack?
From America, Redman, Treach, and Du It All (Lords of the Underground)
How was it working with Danny Glover and Nia Long?
Nia Long is a true professional and very serious actress. When we filmed “Mooz-Lum” we presented Nia with a character that was challenging and out of the box. The character (Safiyah Mahdi) spoke to her and she agreed to come aboard. I really look forward to working with her again down the line. Danny Glover is a very talented individual and easy to work with and I felt like we knew him forever.
What are thoughts on redefining Hollywood constructs of beauty?
We are in a very diverse time and beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. In my opinion, I feel that we all have something to offer in our own way and in the film “Love By Chance” Altovise Lawrence character Bailey struggles with identity and trying to navigate hair politics in America. She believes this what society wants her to look like and she has a different style of wigs instead of her natural Afro. We address this everyday struggle of the African American community in this film.
How have you grown as a content creator since you directed “Three Can Play That Game” Featuring Vivica A. Fox, Jazsmin Lewis, Jason George, Tony Rock, and Lawyer Milloy?
I have been able to grow so much as a content creator since “Three Can Play That Game”, we were able to follow that performance with “Mooz-Lum”. I have been blessed to work with so many actors over the course of my career and my view of the world, I believe, is different from most because I travel the world a lot and interact with many different cultures. This allows me to bring a different perspective to the content that I create. I have also been able to tap into many different markets globally as an independent producer and director. So, I would say that I have grown by being able to understand the business side of the entertainment industry.
What are some other things that we can expect from Samad Davis this year?
I have some other television programs and Films in post-production and others going into production and developing some more film projects. The Acting platform is coming to the US and in France and each quarter next year, we will be debuting A new project.
RESPECT.: Who are some of the musicians in your opinion, we should look out for overseas?
There are a lot of talented individuals in Africa throughout the continent. South Africa has a Hugh House music scene which was inspired by the house music scene in Chicago. Each Country puts their own creativity into its music just like we do in America.