It was around this time 10 years ago Grant Davis auditioned for his first role for the casting of Cinderella during his school years in Carson City.
Since then, Davis pursued making his dream of a career in acting come true. Now at age 20, he’s making an appearance Tuesday at the Brewery Arts Center to debut the premiere of first leading role in a musical film, Something Like Summer, as part of the Jukebox Film Festival.
“It feels like I’m doing something right,” he said. “I’m moving in the right direction.”
Something Like Summer is a musical film adaptation of the award-winning 2010 novel by Jay Bell, focusing on gay youth in Texas. He plays as one of the major characters, Benjamin Bentley, and sings four songs in the film.
As a fan of Bell’s work, Davis said he relates to the main character as someone real who has flaws and wants to matter to someone else.
But being born and raised in Carson City, Davis said he’s more interested in the audience’s reaction about a universal story.
“Coming from a small town, progressive has evolved,” he said. “Growing up in a Mormon household and going through self-discovery in my teen years, I’m interested to see how this community responds. It’s a story we can all relate to, gay or straight. We all remember what our first kiss was like. This is a story that was written for everyone.”
Davis said he didn’t audition for the movie to make a statement; he loves working in front of the camera and has come a long way to pick up the role.
As a songwriter and musician, Davis won a talent competition at 15 on the Dr. Phil television show and signing a recording deal with Manhattan Records at 16.
He also came to national attention via NPR by singing “Just a Child,” which chronicles his own family’s emotional struggle with problems faced by his teenaged sister.
“Just a Child” was part of a music contest sponsored by The National Institute on Drug Abuse, MusiCares and the Grammy Foundation in an effort to raise teen awareness about substance abuse. Davis’ song placed third.
After years of training at Take 2 Performers Studio in Reno and graduating Silver State Charter School in 2014, Davis moved to Los Angeles in hopes to launch his career.
Eventually, he then moved to San Diego and worked at a restaurant. But he got back into the acting gig at 17 when auditions were announced for Something Like Summer.
Six months after his original audition, Davis won the role when it was recasted after the first person chose to bow out.
Davis beat out some 600 competitors to win the role along with support from the author, whom felt he was the right fit for the character, according to Davis.
The film’s prominent engagements took place in Sydney, Australia; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Los Angeles, San Diego, Philadelphia and Miami.
“The whole thing was an incredible experience,” he said. “That’s when I realized I was making my career path into adulthood.”
Although he traveled the world to film the movie in two months of production, to be in front of cameras was one of the biggest challenges to overcome.
“It’s trivial,” he said. “All of my co workers were used to it. But the crew respected my lack of understanding of what it’s like to be on set. I’m proud of the final product.”
But what Davis is even more incredibly proud of is being able to bring the film to his hometown. Although Grant will get to reunite with family and friends in town, there are two main reasons why Tuesday will be an incredibly important day for Davis — aside from the obvious.
“I really wanted to make my grandparents proud,” he said. “I told my grandfather the movie was accepted into the Jukebox Film Festival and he told me he would be there. He sounded uncertain.”
Davis’s grandmother died June 28, followed by his grandfather a month later, on July 27.
The recent loss of both grandparents increased emotional significance of his homecoming.
“I had an understanding he was going fast and was overjoyed to share this last memory with him,” he said.
The second reason is to make a footprint in Carson City with the film’s story.
“To play as Ben Bentley is my dream role,” he said “I want to get the message out that this film is about understanding we’re all the same. We have pride in our sexuality, but why not have pride in ourselves as whole?”
After Carson City, Davis is off to Atlanta, Georgia, for the new premiere.
But after the rave for Something Like Summer ends, he plans to keep moving forward and visit his parents in Carson City, Angela and Clay Davis.
“I’ll be exploring more of who I am and what I want to do with my life,” he said. “I love being in front of the camera, but if I find something more than what I already love, I would hate not to take advantage of it.”