PariahAn Interview with Aasha Davis
By Wilson Morales
December 26, 2011
Having done numerous episodic work on various TV series such as a ‘Gilmore Girls,’ ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ House,’ and best known for her roles as Waverly Grady on ‘Friday Night Lights’ and Chelsea Lewis on ‘South of Nowhere,’ actress Aasha Davis will next be seen on the big screen in the Sundance Film Festival favorite, ‘Pariah.’
Directed by Dee Rees and opening in limited theaters on Dec.28 before expanding nationwide in early 2012, the film stars Adepero Oduye as Alike, a 17-year-old African-American Brooklyn teenager who’s juggling conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression.
Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Davis about her role in the film and the bond she created with the cast.
What’s your role in the film and what was the attraction to being part of it?
Aasha Davis: I play Bina and she’s the girl that Alike’s mom wants her to hang out with to be a good influence on her. What attracted me to the role was the script. It was the entire story and not just my character in particular, and how important the film was. I just wanted to be a part of it.
What sort of back-story did you give for Bina?
Aasha Davis: She’s someone who’s just excited to experience the world. She’s interested in finding out who she can be and just wants to dabble and see who she is. It’s a coming-of-age story and those feelings of who am I and what part do I play in this world.
From its premiere at Sundance to its December release, how excited are you that it’s finally coming out in theaters?
Aasha Davis: Oh my goodness! It’s so exciting. I remember feeling how important the story was from the beginning and you never know how it’s going to connect with other people as fully as it does with your own heart. It feels great and wonderful that other people are recognizing the power of this film.
How was working with Dee Rees and Adepero (Oduye)?
Aasha Davis: Dee Rees is so organized and a complete director. She gives you every details about your character and you can talk to her about anything. Adepero’s this wonderful spirit. During shooting she would make hats around craft services. She’s a wonderful giving actor.
How do you think this film is universal and not just a Black film?
Aasha Davis: I feel that anyone who’s been a teenager; or anyone who’s trying to figure out what’s the next step they will take in their life can relate to this story. I too can relate by having the feeling of how I am going to portray. It may be a young story, but as the economy changes and as life changes, you have to figure out what’s the next step or the next thing I could be in and how I would be accepted for that. Every person I saw coming out of the screening, I could see how the film affected them. Whether it was a hand shake, a nod, or the punch in the arm that I would get, their reaction is a satisfying feeling and that’s wonderful.
From its premiere at Sundance until now, what else have you been working on?
Aasha Davis: I did an episode of ‘Castle,’ and what a great family of cast and crew. They were welcoming and when ever you do episodic work, like one or two episodes on a show, you never know how people will treat you or if you will fit in, or if it’s going to be hard or busy. But it was an amazing experience to work on the show and surrounded by so much support. I’m also working on some other things, but you’ll see me again.
Because of the long journey the film has taken before its release, have you and the cast developed a great bond?
Aasha Davis: Yes. I just saw Charles Parnell the other day. He was at my house. We’re going to be bonded for the rest of our lives because of this important film. It’s not like anything anyone has seen before. It’s going to be a benchmark and we’re always going to have that.