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Belmont alumna earns title of Nashville theater’s ‘it’ girl

Since graduating from Belmont University in May of 2016, Morgan Davis has been making waves in the Nashville theater community.

Recently, Davis gained a lot of attention and superb reviews for her performance in Nashville Repertory Theatre’s production of the comedic play, “Noises Off!” With sources such as Broadway World reviewing her performance and even calling her “Nashville theater’s current ‘it’ girl,” Davis remains humble and thankful for the opportunities while making it clear she will never forget those who formed her as an actress on her road to success.

Davis’ acting career began during her elementary school years in Texas.

“I had a solo in my school play in kindergarten, and my mom was shocked that they gave it to me. She asked me right before I went on, ‘Are you nervous?’ I just looked at her, and I was like, ‘Mom, they’re just people. I’ll be fine. It’ll be great,’” Davis said.

Throughout elementary school, she continued to perform at church and school but grew out of singing and continued to find her passion in acting. In high school, she decided to join the drill team with all of her friends and was rejected.

“I was devastated and humiliated. But, it sent me back to theater. I was like, ‘I used to do theater. Maybe I should do that again,’ and I fell in love with it again,” Davis said.

When Davis began considering studying theater as a potential career field, her parents encouraged her to disregard her fear of not having a “practical” job and follow her heart.

During her senior year, she had intended to move with her family to France for a year when her father got a job in Nashville, Tennessee. She began hearing about the school and applied and auditioned. She ultimately decided on Belmont after only applying to a few schools and made it clear she wouldn’t have it any other way.

While attending Belmont, Davis studied various kinds of theater — ranging from classics to contemporary to commedia dell’arte. Davis also participated in the Belmont East program.

“It was such a great taste of New York without having to starve, you know?” Davis said.

The range of opportunities offered as well as the staff in Belmont’s theater program are what Davis believes allowed her to grow as a performer the most.

“That’s everything in an educational theater setting. To have people who believe in you and want the best for you as a person and not just their idea of what an actor should be,” Davis said.

However, Davis made it clear that regardless of how amazing the professors are, the student must put in an equal or greater amount of work in return.

“The greatest quality an actor can have, it’s in two parts, it really goes for life, too. It is to be sure of who you are and to be easily directable,” Davis said.

Her recent performances and critical acclaims are proof she not only believes in those qualities but practices them as well. However, being called the “it” girl in the local theater community feels a bit strange and “silly” to her.

“I’m honored and humbled by the opportunities to do such awesome projects and to be able to work with these actors I’ve watched over the past four years while I was at Belmont,” Davis said. “I’m very realistic and appreciative for what I’ve gotten, but I’m not naive as to think that this is great and this is how it’s going to be for now on. I’m so grateful for the projects I’ve gotten to work on, and I’m very thankful for them all.”

Davis is currently cast as Juliet in the Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Romeo and Juliet” which is showing this weekend at the Troutt Theater. The production mashes up the styles of both traditional Shakespeare era and the 1990s.

Another recent Belmont graduate, Natalie Bell, composed an entire score of 1990s grunge music for the lute, cello and percussion.

“Me and Romeo’s first dance is to ‘Fade Into You,’ but on the lute,” said Davis.

Morgan Davis, though she may not be so keen on the title herself, has been rightly called the “it” girl of Nashville theater. Be sure to see her act as Juliet at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night or on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. All performances are at the Troutt Theater.

This article was written by Mamie Davis. Photo by Rebecca Arnold.

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