Born in Portland, Maine, actor JF Davis started acting later in life after a friend talked him into taking an acting class. After falling in love with acting, JF moved to Los Angeles where he immersed himself in this wild town, following his new passion.
Since moving to Los Angeles, JF has had quite a success story. He has appeared in countless shows and movies including The West Wing, Greys Anatomy, Private Practice, Code Black, The Pretender, The Mentalist, 13 Reasons Why, Station 19, Criminal Minds, and S.W.A.T…. but life was not always easy for JF. Early on in his career he wasn’t getting roles so easily, and so he became known around Los Angeles as one of the go-to guys to the big stars as a handyman; He would help some of the biggest names around their house with random jobs.
With an interesting life to-date, we spoke one-on-one with JF to learn more about being a handyman, falling in love with acting, his new roles coming up and navigating Los Angeles during the COVID-19 outbreak.
How did you know you wanted to be an actor and get involved in the entertainment industry?
I think from an early age I had an interest in being on TV and in the movies, but I never thought it was a possibility. I never gave it much thought until high School when I was asked to try out for the school play. I was a freshman and an athlete trying to be cool and fit in so drama club was not an option! but it did get me thinking. My senior Year I was asked to MC the Christmas Talent show and that was a blast. I got to be funny and silly but still did not think about ever being an actor. Later that year I was asked to do a fashion show at the High School, and I did. It was fun and led to me getting an agent and doing a couple of local commercials but still, I didn’t take it seriously. Being from a small town in Maine, no one even left to say nothing about leaving to be an actor. My first passion was race cars and after high school I started building and driving my own race car and competing at the local track. When I realized that it took a lot more money than I had to be competitive, I had to change gears. Now in my early 20’s, working in a paper mill, I was urged by a friend to take an acting class, it was very interesting and we did a play, my first real acting experience and I felt really comfortable on stage. I auditioned for another play at the community theater in Biddeford, Maine and landed a lead in “The Foreigner” as Rev. David Marshall Lee. I really got the bug but still, it was not an option. Then a year or so later I saw an actress from my class, Laura Bonarrigo, on TV on the soap, “One Life To Live”, That was when the light went off and I decided from that moment, I could and would become an actor! That was in the summer of 1991, I landed in Los Angeles in March of 1992 and have never looked back!
Obviously the industry is at a stand-still somewhat because of COVID-19. How have you been handling it?
It has been pretty slow but I have tried to stay busy by making connections, working on trying to collaborate with other actors, writers and producers. I have multiple projects in the works with different collaborators. I also create little videos for social media, I work on accents and characters, it’s fun for me, fun for my fans and it helps to work on my craft.
What are you most looking forward to once stuff “clams down”?
First off, as it has started to open up a bit, I am enjoying auditioning again, albeit self-tapes from home, but they are starting to come in and it feels good to have the opportunity to be creative and get back to work. What I am most looking forward to is making my directorial debut, we were hoping to shoot earlier this year but were pushed back from Covid. Hopefully early next year we will be able to go into production on “The Demons Within” a very scary and well written film by Roberta Griffin, about a teenage girl’s demonic possession. The story has a modern tech twist!
You have a new project out now on Netflix (Ratched) and even a new movie called Outrage set to come out in the near future. What about these projects can you tell us more about?
“Ratched” is the start driven sequel to the 1970’s feature film, “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest”. Sarah Paulsen stars as Nurse Ratched, and the story reveals how this young nurse becomes the monster that she is in Cukoo’s Nest. I play a Police Captain in the 1940’s, who surround the barn where Edmund And Dolly are hiding out, I call for them to come out with hands in the air, because we have them surrounded.
As for “Outrage”, this is a fun little martial arts, action film, that I star in, alongside first time writer/director Sandeep Jl. I play Mike, a blue collar good ole boy from Texas, who’s daughter gets kidnapped by a biker gang and held for Ransom. I call on the help of some friends to get my daughter back and that’s when the fun begins! If all goes well the film will be released on Amazon by the end of the year.
Early on in your career you were a handyman to some big stars here in Los Angeles in order to make money to support your career. Which stars did you work for and any stories you can share?
The fact is, as an actor you need an income to pay the bills while auditioning and working on carving out a career in the entertainment industry. Many actors and writers wait tables but this was not something that I could do. Luckily, I grew up in a small town and learned to do everything from carpentry, electric, etc…, so I started doing handyman work around LA. I became known as a trustworthy and able handyman and soon my name was being passed around town. Eventually I started working for producers, writers and actors. Once you get into that world, if you are responsible and trustworthy, the assistants share your name with other assistants. That’s how it happened for me, all word of mouth. I worked in the early days for Richard Paul, Ed McMahon, Stephanie Zimbalist, Demi and Ashton, Courtney Cox, Meg Ryan, Dianne Keaton, and David Spade to name a few. I don’t really have any stories other than the fact that I had a great experience with each of them and they all treated me with respect. Some of them I did not get to interact with much, but some I did. Dianne Keaton was probably the one that I enjoyed working for the most. She is such a Hollywood Icon, but she would set down in her kitchen and chat with me and some of the ladies that worked for her. For someone who has been in the business as long as she has, I was impressed with how down to earth and real she was.
Have you continued to help any out still to this day?
I do still work for a few people, one that I work with a lot these days is David Spade. His assistant was with Meg Ryan years ago when I worked there and has continued to bring me along to her new clients. She has been with Davis for quite some time now and I continue to go by from time to time to help out around his house. He is also a really nice guy, very quiet but a genuine all around good guy.
What is your advice to other actors out there that want “to make it” in Hollywood?
The best advice that I could give is go into it with your eyes open and treat it like a business. Very few people no matter how talented, make a career in Hollywood. If you want to give it a go, first find a source of income that is flexible that will pay your bills, but not interfere with your goals. Second, know that it is a business, it is hard and it is not always rewarding so you must really love it and it has to be a total commitment and you will have to dedicate years of hard work, patience and persistence, before making it as a working actor and then a few actually become stars. But if it is your passion and you love it, do it!
On a personal note, what about Los Angeles do you love so much about that you decided to ultimately live here and raise your family here? What about Los Angeles just inspires you as an actor?
For me when I decided to become an actor it was, New York or LA. I knew that it was going to be a struggle and a journey, I’m a realist. So I chose LA because at least I wouldn’t be trudging through the snow to get to auditions and classes, etc… What kept me here was my lovely wife Rosana who is a native. I met my wife and we were married, only 3 years after I started my acting journey. We soon had our first child and not long after that our second. This was my wife’s home, it is where my work is and I made it my home! What inspires me is the history of the film and Television industry here in LA. You are surrounded by it and everywhere you go there is a studio or a landmark that just speaks to you as old Hollywood! That inspires me and every time I walk onto one of the studio lots to work, for a fitting or even for an audition, I feel it!
What things around town have you been doing during this pandemic period?
Not a lot, actually. Like I said earlier, writing and collaborating with others so we’ll be ready to go when things do get better. I am an eternal optimist and I know that in the near future, things will get better for all of us. We Just have to smile our way through the hard times, be patient and there will be light at the end of the tunnel!
What is the ultimate goal for JF Davis?
So far it has been, to be a good husband and father and I hope that I have done that. Now that my boys are 22 and 24, and I have always had the support of my wife. So I can put my full attention into becoming me, Jf Davis, working actor. I want to know that I can continue to make a living doing what I love, make some good movies and possibly have my own television series. But most of all continue to create diverse and hopefully memorable characters that will provide some entertainment to those people who watch.