…Probably a movement that encourages disconnecting from technology for 24 hours at least once a week. Cell phones and the internet are both beautiful things, but we, as a society, have become so indisputably addicted to them and we’re too short-sighted to see how this negatively impacts our quality of life. I make it a point to “unplug” at least once a week (and whenever I’m out with people), and it’s done wonders for me.
As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Davide Ferrari. Davide is a 29-year-old first-generation Italian-American actor, writer and producer from Queens, New York, who left the legal field after two years as an attorney to pursue his passion for film, theater and sketch comedy. Davide has received training at the People’s Improv Theater, New York Theatre Academy, and Binghamton University. He is currently represented by BMG Models and Avanti Talent. Davide most recently wrote, produced, and starred in a short comedy titled ‘Sunday Dinner,’ performed at the Hudson Guild Theater as part of New York Theater Festival’s Summerfest.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Davide! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a middle class Italian family in Queens, New York. My parents were both immigrants; my sister and I are first-generation. My family is very large, so growing up I was constantly in the company of some extended family — be it aunts, uncles, or cousins. As a result, I was fortunate enough to develop close relationships with a lot of people beyond my immediate family. Growing up, my parents instilled three values in me above all others: family and tradition, education, and Catholic guilt.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I knew I wanted to be an actor ever since I first saw Ace Ventura as a child. I can still remember walking out of that theater saying, “Okay, this is what I want to do.” Thereafter, I seized every performance opportunity that came my way. I was in every school play from elementary school through high school, I played in bands, I took sketch and improv classes…you name it. However, this fervor for the performing arts began to taper out when I entered college, right around the time my father was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. Having grown up in a very poor village in Italy and moved to the United States to provide a better life for his family, my father, while always supportive of my acting as a recreational activity, disapproved of it as a career path. Consequently, when he passed away just after my freshman year of college, I decided to pursue a more secure and well-paying career to honor his legacy. Seven years later, I had graduated from Brooklyn Law School, passed the BAR exam, and was working as a litigator in the New York City Law Department; however, no matter how deeply I thrust myself into my work, I remained miserable and unfulfilled. I could not suppress my heart’s unrelenting desire to be an actor. And so, after two years, a lot of whiskey, and a lot of sleepless nights, I finally decided to take the leap. On July 6, 2017, I turned in my notice, and two weeks later I was auditioning for roles in New York City.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
There honestly is no singular story that’s particularly interesting. I think that’s the point. What is interesting is the lessons you’re able to glean after experiencing certain things over and over and over again (which I’ve listed in my “five lessons” below). For instance, there has never been one audition that I bombed and subsequently learned something valuable from. There have been a whole bunch of failed auditions from which I was ultimately able to distill a few nuggets of wisdom. Make sense?
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Same answer as above; there has never been one stand-out funny moment from which I learned something.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Currently, I am producing and starring in a one-act comedy that I wrote and will be featuring at the New York Theater Festival’s Summerfest at the Hudson Guild Theater. The play is titled “Sunday Dinner,” and based on my large, loud and crazy Italian family, and our weekly Sunday feast hosted by my mother. The show features a large Italian-American family all interacting (mostly arguing and laughing at each other’s expense) over dinner. I’m very excited about this project because, when writing it, I tried to make it as realistic a representation of my own personal experience as possible. It’s my homage to my family — particularly to those who supported me when I was transitioning from a career in law, to one in the arts.
I’m very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
It’s extremely important to have diversity represented in film and television because it creates acting work for minority actors who have been severely underrepresented in this business. The more commonplace it becomes for shows to have diverse casts, the more we can create an accepting society that is not so focused on race or ethnicity; and the more we encourage diversity in this industry, the more likely we are to identify, explore and correct existing institutional norms that perpetuate racial or ethnic prejudices.
From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?
- Encourage diversity in casting.
- Increase production of shows, films and plays that celebrate various cultures.
- Create community drama programs designed to expose children from low income or minority backgrounds to theater.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I can’t recall a specific story for these lessons. Like I said before, they are all lessons that my brain has been able to synthesize after hundreds of seemingly-meaningless occurrences. After so many “little” moments, you begin to notice patterns and can formulate “guidelines.”
- Do not measure your success by comparing yourself to others. Just don’t do it.
- Make bold choices when auditioning. You’ll be remembered for them. Several of the parts I’ve gotten were merely a by-product of bombing an audition for something else. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these words and benefitted from them, “You’re not quite right for this, but I’m working on something else that you’d be perfect for!”
- If you’re having a hard time finding work, MAKE WORK FOR YOURSELF. For the longest time, I found myself getting typecast as either the boy-next-door or the jock. While I still enjoy playing those parts, I only started to get cast in different roles after creating and sharing projects that I wrote for myself to showcase my other skills.
- Be patient. Sure, some of us may be in one viral video that propels us to stardom, but for most of us, this is the long game. Don’t get discouraged when you’re not progressing as quickly as you’d hoped.
- Be involved in as many projects as possible!!! Don’t shy away from opportunities because you think they may not be right for you. Every single gig is, at the very least, a chance to meet new and interesting people. I have participated in several projects that were not exactly right for me, but ultimately led to the cultivation of several business relationships that have paid off in spades.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Being in this industry, one has to constantly be hustling to move forward. Consequently, it’s very easy to develop this tunnel vision that causes you to ignore all the other great things in your life. This is dangerous because it can ultimately lead to resentment of the path you’ve chosen. Always remember to schedule time for activities that are completely separate from your hustle. When doing so, don’t think of it as time taken from your hustle, think of it as time necessary for you to sustainably continue your hustle in the long term.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Probably a movement that encourages disconnecting from technology for 24 hours at least once a week. Cell phones and the internet are both beautiful things, but we, as a society, have become so indisputably addicted to them and we’re too short-sighted to see how this negatively impacts our quality of life. I make it a point to “unplug” at least once a week (and whenever I’m out with people), and it’s done wonders for me.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
This is extremely difficult to answer because the list of people to whom I owe thanks is literally endless. If I absolutely had to narrow it down, it could never be just one person. At minimum, it’d have to be two — my mother and sister, who gave me the courage to quit my job as a lawyer to pursue my dream of being an actor.
I’ll share a quick story. Immediately after quitting my job, I was totally lost. I knew I wanted to pursue acting, but I was so overwhelmed by what I had just done, that I didn’t even know where to start…so I called my sister. At the time, she was working at a research station in a remote village in the jungle of Costa Rica. Indeed, even just texting required her to travel to a location outside of the jungle where she could pirate Wifi. During this phone call, my sister encouraged me to join her in Costa Rica for a couple of weeks to “get my head straight.” When I told my mother I was going, she insisted on tagging along.
Five days, three flights (one of which I’m pretty sure was pedal-operated), two hitchhiked rides, one river-crossing with my five-foot tall mom on my back, and six hiked miles later, we were in the middle of nowhere, Costa Rica. For ten days, we lived with very modest lodgings and little access to technology. It was just what I needed. Mom, Sis and I spent much of that time hiking, swimming in the ocean, reading, and just talking about my next move. Their constant encouragement and unwavering faith in me during my hour of need gave me the courage to hit the ground running when I returned to New York City.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Everything is a choice between love and fear.” This is what I’ve realized. Everything we do in life is either motivated by love or fear. Choose love. You’Il never regret a choice that you made out of love.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Jim Carrey or Barrack Obama
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Hit up the IG! @davideferrarinyc
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!