We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Cory Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael Cory, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
My business/career has taught me to learn how to understand that every thing in life boils down to perspective. Perspective allows you to set a benchmark for success that is based on YOU rather than other people’s ideas and beliefs. This is super important because success for each person is very different. As an actor and filmmaker you can spend a lifetime in depression if you choose to believe that success is having box office hits and being a film critic darling. As an actor you can be doomed to a lifetime of insecurity and placed on a perpetual emotional roller-coaster if success is based on the quantity of bookings for roles or the adoration of fans. Perspective allows me to create healthier ideals and ideas for success. I am successful if I set a goal and work to achieve it.
I am successful if I don’t give up regardless of the obstacle and keep plowing along as long as it is healthy for me to do so. Does success have to equal material things? For some yes, but I look at that as enslavement to those things unless you have your head on straight. What happens the moment you lose those things? Do you lose your value? It’s based on perspective.
For example, if someone has a BIG audition and they don’t book it, they can view that as a great devastation and sulk about it for months, even years. So their perspective is one of failure. However what happens if the producer in that audition room who didn’t cast you, a year later has a new film project and casts you in the lead role. While on set you learn that during the audition for the first movie, he thought you’d be perfect for his current passion project which is why you got the job. Would you still view that first audition as a failure or as a success? Life is all about how we view things and perspective is what helps us appreciate the little things. The small wins, big wins, the losses and in essence they can all be a win if you choose to view it that way. Every step leads you forward and even the backward steps if you don’t give up can change your direction in the best interest of your journey.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am the founder of Artists United for Social Justice (AUSJ), a 501c3 non-profit organization that creates and distributes multi-media to raise awareness about social injustices. In addition we create digital content in the social impact space for other organizations, activists, and corporate brands. What sets us apart is our ability to create our own content and provide that to other groups who share similar passions. We are not in this space to compete with others rather our goal to is support others who may be limited in their storytelling abilities so they can reach their audience and create a groundswell of support around the issues we are spotlighting. Social injustice is never easy to discuss, it usually is the topic that people shy away from at a dinner party but a video, movie, art installation for instance creates commentary simply by existing and that is how we can affect change. I can’t say that running a business is easy per se, but every challenge has allowed me to grow, the business to grow and my understanding of why I do this work, to expand. I have overcome challenges with patience, discipline and honestly speaking sometimes backing off and taking a breather altogether. Prior to starting AUSJ, I had gained incredible momentum around the films I made about sex trafficking Svetlana’s Journey and Cargo: Innocence Lost between 2003-2007. I had created a Human Trafficking educational DVD series and traveled the world providing insight and digital content to support other groups. People were really starting to become aware of human trafficking here and abroad. I had spent so much of my time helping other non-profits raise funds for their campaigns and work using my films that I missed opportunities to create my own non-profit and support my dreams. With a focus at that time solely on acting and filmmaking I didn’t really see how that all tied together with my humanitarian work. When I finally made the connection that I could and should have been doing all at the same time, I decided to officially create my own non-profit in 2008/9 and that is how Artists United for Social Justice was born. Unfortunately, its launch coincided with the largest economic depression in my lifetime and housing bubble burst. This is when I hit a major wall. No one wanted to donate. Most people couldn’t afford to take care of themselves and I had poured lots of capital into getting a major campaign off the ground. So I had to evaluate the organization, the campaign and the world at large and ultimately decide to put AUSJ on pause. This was not a failure in my mind, just a hiatus. Things start and stop all the time, the key is can you keep the momentum in your heart for when the time is right. This will be faced by everyone in business at some time or another. Since then we have resumed where we left off now with a new film titled The Conversation which speaks to dating violence and sexual assault. In addition it will spearhead the launch of a future campaign about healthy masculinity. I’m very excited about what the future holds for AUSJ, especially as I watch this young generation realize that we must tackle the worlds problems head on if we truly want the world to be a better place.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hollywood Bowl Hiking trails around the city My Taco in Highland park for Lamb Burritos which are my favorite Manhattan beach walk to Redondo beach pier is one of my favorite calming meditation walks on the strand My list is not that extensive because after a year or two of safer at home orders many of my favorite restaurants have unfortunately shut down. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shoutout Kindred Space LA birthing center — a unique birthing, education, and support facility owned and operated by Black midwives. CREATING A SPACE WHERE FAMILIES COULD COME TO BIRTH’ Among other things, they work with clients who plan to give birth at home and offer in-person classes for pregnant women, parents, moms with young children, and birth workers.
Instagram: @mcorydavis; @ausj_org; @journeyfilmgroup