You may know him as Tod Richards from the 2016 film ‘Saturday’s Warrior.’ But beyond the popular Mormon musical, rising star Mason Davis is rapidly making a name for himself in the world of film. From his trial-riddled past to his musical endeavors, Mason reveals all in this exclusive video interview.
Life as a Prodigal Son
Mason spent his childhood in Memphis, Tennessee. He was one of seven siblings. Although he describes his mother as a saint, he admits that his relationship with his dad was rocky at best. When Mason was just 10, his dad left the family, investing little time or effort in Mason’s upbringing in the years that followed. Mason struggled to overcome his resulting anger throughout his teenage years. “It wasn’t fair of him or mature of me,” says Mason, “but, you know, I was a kid.”
Although Mason had many interests and talents, especially in the arts, he often got into trouble at school. Eventually he moved to Southern California where, influenced by his group of friends, he began to drink and use drugs. His life spiraled downward from there.
“Eventually we were living out of a car, it was crazy,” says Mason. “Then, when winter hit, it got so cold that I had to go back to Orange County. I lived with my girlfriend for two years before, finally, she couldn’t support my addictions anymore. So, she sold my dog of four years, packed her things and left.”
Mason found himself completely alone. Soon after, his addictions—and several suicide attempts—landed him in the hospital where his mother came and found him. “No son or daughter should ever make their parents see them in such a desperate need for a fix,” says Mason. “For her to walk in on me like that was so, so hard.” With nowhere to go, Mason returned home where he and his brother, also home for medical reasons, looked after each other.
It was during this time that Mason began to redevelop some of his talents. Influenced by his mother, he even added a few, including gardening, which he states helped to ease the anxieties that made him fear to even leave his room. Finally, an invitation to go snowboarding with the local YSA group introduced him back to the Church. Now, Mason is determined to keep the faith as he pursues his career.
There’s a Mormon in Hollywood
From stand-up comedy to theater, it seems Mason was never afraid to try new things growing up. Although he still loves to dabble in the talents he’s accumulated over the years, he feels that film is where he belongs.
Now, Hollywood may not have the best track record for producing (or maintaining) faithful members of the Church, but Mason has made it clear that he intends to stay faithful, regardless of what opportunities may come his way. “I’m never embarrassed to say no [to a role],” he says. “It doesn’t matter how much money you offer me.”
He adds, though, that he definitely enjoys playing characters who are very different from him. “I don’t mind playing the bad guy, or the guy at the bar who picks a fight with the hero. . . . The tough thing about this industry is just drawing the line, figuring out what you will and won’t do.”
Among Mason’s favorite roles is Chase Davis (“Shadow”) — a pro-surfer, artist, and musician whose journey mirrors Mason’s own in many ways. Mason also considers his role in the short film “Brother’s Keeper” to be both incredibly special and incredibly challenging to play. “Playing a mentally handicapped young man was so hard to do respectfully. . . . One thing I worked out with the director beforehand was that I wanted full control of this character. I wanted to be able to say ‘no’ if I felt like we were being disrespectful.” Mason has been nominated for “Best Actor” in the NYC Indie Film Awards for this role.
Up-and-Coming Ukulele Album?
If you’ve seen “Saturday’s Warrior,” you already know that Mason can sing and act, but did you know that he also plays ten instruments? That’s right, ten. He even knows how to build some of them. So, what does he plan on doing with all that musical ability?
Mason can jam out on the piano, guitar, drums, even the didgeridoo! But the instrument he’s most passionate about is by far the ukulele. MormonMusic.org covers the full story of his musical background.
Slowly but surely, he’s been working on a couple of uke albums, including a hymn album as well as a primary song album. “I have a Christmas album I want to do, too,” Mason says. “Every year I’ll do a Christmas show at a senior center, so I’d love to put out an album of covered Christmas songs.”
Although his more religious albums are what he’s focusing on, Mason likes to writes songs of his own as well. He describes his natural style as “beachy.” “I’ve got about 6 to 8 songs that I’ve written for the ukulele, guitar, and so on. I’d like to put those out someday.”
If you ever get the chance to visit Mason’s Facebook page, do; his hilarious one-liners (ex. “People who write ‘u’ instead of ‘you.’ What do you do with all the time you save?”) are enough to brighten anyone’s day. But Mason isn’t afraid to laugh at himself, either, and one night at Chipotle, he had a pretty good opportunity:
“The cast [of Saturday’s Warrior] and myself went to a meet-and-greet at a movie theater. What we usually do at those is we sign autographs, meet fans, etc. Well, people had gone to the movie, and the cast had some down time, so we went to Chipotle.
“While we were in line, this little red-headed kid comes up to me and tugs on my shirt—’Excuse me, mister!’ Well, I had just come from this [meet-and-greet], so I turned around and said, ‘As a matter of fact, yes I am—’
“Then he said, ‘Excuse me, mister, can I get by you?’ And he slipped past me. Everyone, the whole cast, had thought the same thing, so we all died laughing. There I’d been, ready to pull out a pen and sign an autograph, and this little kid was just trying to get by. I turned bright red, I was so embarrassed!”
Projects—Present and Future
If you haven’t had a chance to see Saturday’s Warrior, it’s not too late! Several Utah theaters are still playing it before it will be released elsewhere. But for those of you who have (and want more), Mason is busily working on several projects and has recently auditioned for several more. “I have two movies that I’m currently shooting right now. Both are dramatic action/thrillers.” He added that one of the projects stars John Hawkes and Octavia Spencer.
“In the other film—I can’t say the name of—I get to work with some of the actors who play the Avengers. It’s not in that family of films, but I get to learn from some of the greats, which is cool.”
Beyond his work in film, Mason is also involved in a charity cause called Soles4Souls. “We give shoes to children and families who need them,” Mason explained. He hopes to spread the word to as many people as he can.
Most recently, Davis was nominated for Best Actor at the 16th Annual LDS Film Festival for his work on director Barrett Burgin’s neo-noir thriller, The Next Door.
We’re grateful for Mason’s time, and we’re excited to see him in all his future endeavors!