West Baltimore actress Lex Scott-Davis packed her bags for L.A. a year and a half ago without a resume or an agent. But she had one plan: to give her two-decade pursuit of acting and performing a real shot.
Now, the 24-year-old will appear in her first lead role, as R&B singer and Severn native Toni Braxton in the Lifetime biopic "Unbreak My Heart." The TV movie, based on Braxton's memoir of the same name, will premiere Jan. 23, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the songstress' music career.
Her father, the owner of a real estate firm, and her mother, a life coach, are partially responsible for Scott-Davis' love for performing. The two put her in a school at age 3 to learn dance and modeling. Before ultimately committing to acting, the Roland Park Country School graduate battled stage fright. Now Scott-Davis is living in North Hollywood, appearing in music videos and working on independent projects.. She catches up with The Baltimore Sun on her newest role and fills us in on what it's like to be a Baltimorean living in La-La Land.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
How did you first get into acting?
In middle school, I did some acting at the Arena Players in Baltimore. That was a pretty popular opportunity for the inner-city kids who were interested in acting. A lot of my peers were in "The Wire." I had stage fright, and I was a little afraid of acting, so I chose to focus on dance. I went to Drexel University in Philadelphia and majored in dance physical therapy. Three years later, I wanted to give acting another shot, so I moved to New York and did a year-long acting program at New York Film Academy. Then I made my way to L.A.
Tell me about getting this role.
I probably auditioned four times total before I got the part. Literally the morning after I got the part, I was flying to Vegas to meet with Toni. The following week, we were planning to shoot the movie in Vancouver, which filmed for a total of five weeks. It was a crash course on how to make a movie in a month. Everything happened extremely fast.
What was that experience like?
I was very excited, but I was also nervous. This was my first chance at a professional acting opportunity, but I was definitely the rookie on set, so I had to put the excitement to the side. [Braxton] and her sister, Towanda, were very involved in pre-production, so I was just listening to their stories about how she grew up. I was trying to capture the essence, so I would just listen and watch her. She probably caught me staring at her a few times because there were a lot of little things that I wanted to pick up for the role. And I didn't want to be anywhere else. It didn't matter that the hours were long or that there were lines to learn. I was 110 percent into it.
What is it like being from Baltimore while living in Hollywood, especially with some of the news in Baltimore the past year?
I absolutely love representing Baltimore while living in L.A. It is a little difficult knowing that some people have a negative connotation of Baltimore, but that just gives me more ammo to prove that there a lot of good things coming out of my city. There is a lot of talent, and we breed some pretty tough people. Baltimore definitely taught me some useful tools for being on my own. I love that about our culture.
What has been the response to your role from your family and friends?
They are ecstatic. It's a rollercoaster being an artist. Sometimes it's going really great, and sometimes, not. But the support system that I have has never questioned anything I have done. At times, they've believed in me when I haven't believed in myself. My first billboard went up in Sunset Boulevard on Monday Jan. 11. My family is going insane. My parents have told me that random people have been walking up to them and talking about the movie. My mother said, "Lexi, I don't think the has city felt something like this since Jada Pinkett Smith." It's overwhelming, in a good way.
I have a couple of projects that I am working on. I am also in the process of writing a seminar for young women, and eventually, young men, too. I'm doing my research and I am working with mom and [god-mother] to start putting it together. I want to encourage [young Baltimoreans] to tap into something better than what our environment gives us and help them overcome boundaries, and I want the first seminar to be in Baltimore.