Cassi Davis is counting her blessings. The beloved character actress has returned to television quite unexpectedly in a role she made famous over a decade ago — that of matriarch Ella Payne in the revival series “Tyler Perry’s The Paynes.”
Davis told Tasty Clips she fell out on the floor when the producer proposed revisiting the clan from “House of Payne,” a hit sitcom that ran from 2006 to 2012.
“I was so used to the reruns,” she said of Perry’s surprise announcement. “And to be on OWN? Oh my God! I had to get cable!”
The veteran is also featured in the recent Lionsgate DVD release of “Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween,” marking her ninth filmed role as Aunt Bam.
Another turn is on the way in the just wrapped “Medea Family Funeral,” which will introduce a new Perry character.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Davis of the hilarious sidekick. “I get approached all the time with how the people love her. She’s just a butterball of life and laughter.”
Davis has come a long way from being a denied music major at Atlanta’s Spelman College, whose motto is “Our Whole School for Christ,” because she wanted to sing a tribute to God.
Davis explains: “They wanted us to do a classical recital and wanted me to sing in German or French. I asked if I could do ‘To God Be The Glory.’ I’m from Mississippi. I just wanted to sing something my mama and daddy would understand. They said no. I thought I was standing up for God.
“I got mad and left and everything,” Davis said. “Then I came to myself and realized my [parents] paid too much money. Let me go on over there and comply. I went back in 2009 and I graduated. I was a senior for 21 years. That happened.”
As a junior at Spelman, Davis was cast in her first film role in Spike Lee’s “School Daze,” which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
“You can see me in the movie,” she said. “I am the one in the window who says, ‘Your face is cracked and on the ground.’ I was cute with my little haircut.”
When asked about the irony of working with two film industry giants who once found themselves at odds with each other, Davis said, “Whatever that was, it meant nothing to me. I said, ‘Well, if this is buffoonery then I got my start over there with you, [Spike Lee].’ I don’t know if I backslid or what. But I didn’t have a dog in the fight.”
As for the acrimony shown to Perry recently by Mo’Nique, Davis professed her love for the comic/actress.
“I think sometimes we just get ahead of ourselves,” she said. “If we could just take our time and see the side of the other people instead of our own, we could make some progress.”
Davis has begun touring in Mark E. Swinton’s stage play “Guess Who Showed Up To Dinner?” with Palmer Williams Jr., Tony Hightower and Chandra Currelley.
She also has a nonprofit organization called One Plate America for diverse children from the ages of 15 to 18.
“My love is for the young people,” Davis said. “I think there is a major, major disconnect between what we’re taught in the classroom and what is serviced out here to us in the world. So if I can get before some of them, I’d like to just enhance their lives and encourage them.”
CLIPPETTES: Mary J. Blige, who nabbed an Oscar nomination from her work in Netflix’s “Mudbound,” is reuniting with the network to play a ruthless time-traveling hit woman in their upcoming series “The Umbrella Academy” …
Music is in the air on Feb. 17 as Anthony Hamilton is in concert at the Orpheum Theatre; while Freddie Cole brings his quartet to Santa Monica’s Moss Theater; and The Grown & Sexy Tour, starring Najee and Gary Taylor, hits Anaheim’s M3 Live …
Gucci Mane, whose life story will be the basis of an upcoming biopic, is hosting the NBA All-Star Sunday Grand Finale on Feb. 18 at Club 333 …
Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus, aka Black Violin, bring their hip hop/classical stylings to UCLA’s Royce Hall on Feb. 20 …
Acclaimed filmmaker Ava DuVernay and members of her creative team take us behind the scenes of her upcoming adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s iconic young adult sci-fi novel “A Wrinkle in Time” as part of Film Independent’s Director’s Close-Up series on Feb. 21 at Landmark Theatres. The event will be followed by a hosted reception …
Jazz innovator David Murray and acclaimed actor/poet Saul Williams have teamed to craft a new album, “Blues For Memo,” paying homage to Turkish impresario Mehmet “Memo” Uluğ. The project was inspired by avant-garde legend Butch Morris and writer Amiri Baraka, and features Jason Moran, Orrin Evans, Craig Harris and more …
TC ON TV: Feb. 16 – “Everything Sucks!” (Netflix): Jahi Winston (“The New Edition Story”) is featured in this quirky coming-of-age high school story that takes place in 1996 Oregon. “Irreplaceable You” (Netflix): Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as a terminal cancer patient who seeks to find a future girlfriend for her fiancé. “Mysteries & Scandals” (Oxy): “Michael Jackson & Anna Nicole Smith: Bad Medicine” “The Graham Norton Show” (BBCA): Cuba Gooding Jr., Will.I.Am “Word Is Bond” (SHO): Director Sacha Jenkins (“Fresh Dressed”) documents the transformative power of lyrics in the world of hip-hop music. “2 Dope Queens” (HBO): Tituss Burgess
Feb. 17 – “Ed Gordon: Am I Black Enough?” (Bounce): Examines the nuances of cultural identity with Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Anderson, Wayne Brady, Yara Shahidi, Taye Diggs, Charlamagne Tha God, Misty Copeland, Boris Kodjoe and others. “Players Only” (TNT): “Shaq and Kobe”
Feb. 18 – “Unsung” (TV1): Silk “Meet The Peetes” (Hallmark): Rodney & Holly Robinson Peete and their multigenerational family score a new docuseries. “Uncensored” (TV1): Tiffany Haddish
Feb. 19 – “Independent Lens” (PBS): Stanley Nelson’s “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities” premieres. “The Daily Show” (Comedy): “The Unpresidential Day Special”
Feb. 20 – “Death Row Chronicles” (BET): Details the story of the infamous record label with archival footage and interviews with co-founder Marion “Suge” Knight, artists Kurupt, Michel’le, Danny Boy and others across three consecutive nights. “Hate Thy Neighbor” (Viceland): Jamali explores the issues surrounding the Confederate flag with guidance from an unlikely champion, the Black Rebel.
Feb. 22 – “Ellen” (Syn): Oprah Winfrey, The Tonga Sisters
TASTY QUIP: “I don’t give a f*** if the fashion comes from a runway or if a Caucasian woman is walking it, once a colored person wears something, that’s when everybody wants to wear it. We always influence. When you see the Olympics, who always wins? Colored folks. We win everything. We are a big influence and people want to take that s*** away. People like Donald Trump, they’re always going to make us feel like we’re less. But it’s OK, because a b**** like me knows the truth. It don’t matter if the government and the Republicans try to make us feel like we’re not, ’cus we is. I know the truth.” – CARDI B to Vice
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tastyclips.