Tiffany Davidson graduated from Humber’s Acting for Film and Television program in June of 2014. Just a month out of school, still without an agent and only 19 years old, Tiffany got a phone call inviting her to audition for the role of Aaliyah’s best friend in the biopic Aaliyah: Princess of R&B. Of course, she said yes.
“I remember audition day. There were probably hundreds of names on the sign-in sheet going for the same role I was, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, there’s no way I’m getting this.’"
Wipe Your Feet
But Tiffany took the advice she heard when Aislinn Paul ("Clare Edwards" on Degrassi: The Next Generation) was a guest speaker at Humber College.
“She said that when she has an audition she goes in and does her best, and wipes her feet at the door when she’s done and doesn’t think about it. So I went into the room and did my scene. And in that moment I felt like the character – she was energetic, fun, and young. After I finished, I wiped my feet at the door and went shopping downtown!”
Tiffany might not have thought much more about the audition that evening, but the producers did, and she got a phone call the next morning – from the casting director herself – inviting her to a second audition.
“When I went to the recall, I looked on the sign-in sheet and there were 3 names. I thought, ‘Whoa, where’d all the names go?’ And I was so nervous all over again, it was unreal. When I went inside, there were more people in the room: the casting director, the assistant, a network owner, and the producer. Intimidating!
"I did the audition and left, and I remember smiling from ear to ear; I felt so great because the character I was playing was myself. I didn’t have to stray far away to be ‘her’ I was her. Aaliyah was and still is my very first idol. I’ve always been that tomboy with that sexy swagger, dancing to all her music in baggy jeans and Timberlands, so to play the part of her best friend wasn't a stretch.
"By that night I hadn’t slept in 24 hours because I was so anxious to hear if I got the part.”
The next evening Tiffany was, in typical Canadian fashion, in Timmies getting a post-work pick-me-up when her phone rang. It was an unknown number.
“I normally don’t answer calls from people I don’t know, and I was tired from work, but I was starting to love getting calls from numbers I didn’t recognize. So I picked up. And it was the casting director’s assistant telling me that I got the role. I was speechless and shaking!”
The whole thing felt so surreal to Tiffany that she didn’t tell anyone about the role for weeks, just to make sure she wasn’t dreaming and couldn’t jinx it. Even when she was actually on set she says she almost couldn’t believe that it was her name on the call sheet. “I was just so happy and grateful for the opportunity.”
Tiffany still doesn’t know how the producers found her, but, she says, she’s ok with that.
“I like the mystery behind it all. I just like to know that my hard work is getting noticed. I remember seeing a quote saying, ‘Work until you no longer have to introduce yourself.’ And that’s what I want to do. Being on set the first day, people knew who I was before I knew who they were. It felt amazing, and humbling. The cast and crew and director were all welcoming.”
Tiffany says the Acting for Film and Television program at Humber taught her more than just the acting skills she needed to get this job – it taught her about hard work.
“My time at Humber taught me reality. You know, wanting to be an actor, you think you just hit your mark, say your lines, and voilà, you win an Oscar. No, it takes hard work, patience, and discipline… Humber gave me the foundation and essential tools I needed to keep going. I’ve learned what it’s like in front of the camera and also what it’s like behind the camera - which I’ve also grown to love.”
But it was more than just the curriculum that set Humber apart, she says. It was also the faculty.
“The teachers are great. You don’t have to graduate with a role in a commercial or movie to know the value of the course. This program was a stepping stone for me. I was and still am a shy person, but this program gets you where you want to go if you push yourself; there’s nothing but encouragement and support from the students and staff who want nothing more than for you to succeed.”
Looking for Actors?
When asked what’s next, Tiffany laughs.
“I go back to my regular day job! I’m still trying to process all that’s happening. But I have heard from some agencies, so I’m going through those. And I guess I’ll go from there. I am still looking to work in student films to get more experience; I don’t want anyone to think because I got this role that I would never look back at student film – I mean, student films are how I started, and I don’t ever want to forget that! So to anyone looking for actors: hey, I’m your gal! Also, I'm really interested in taking a seat behind the camera - directing, producing, writing some of my own material.”
Holding on to a positive attitude can be hard in the acting world, but Tiffany manages to balance that with a charming humility.
“Even if this is the peak before my downfall, I’m still grateful for the opportunity and I’m just living in the moment. And I’m still going to work towards bigger and better things. I don’t know how to get any bigger than this, but it’s a start!”