Davetta Sherwood: One in a Million
Up-and-coming actress Davetta Sherwood is at ease striking a delicate balance between wholesome and hot.
May 2003 – KING Magazine
By Morgan Campbell
Snowflakes drift in wet clusters past the window of a Toronto photography studio, then descend to the slush-covered street. It’s a mid-winter Saturday afternoon and the temperature outside hovers near freezing. In the distance, low-hanging clouds shroud the city’s skyline.
Turn away from the window and here comes sunshine. She glides toward you, smiling, in a gray bikini and a gleaming white bathrobe. As she pads barefoot across the floor a man follows a quarter-step behind, combing her hair. A woman shuffles alongside, dabbing on the last of her makeup. Sunshine touches you with a smile that glows. Her robe billows. She holds it closed with her left hand and extends her right.
“It’s nice to meet you,” says 19-year-old Davetta Sherwood, surprising you with the strength of her handshake. “It’s wonderful to meet you!” And just who is Davetta Sherwood? She’s a standout student, an actress and an entrepreneuse. She’s an aspiring singer who writes songs in her spare time. And she’s the co-star of the new UPN/MTV drama Platinum, which chronicles a family-owned hip-hop record label. And what sets her apart from all the other sirens who strike sultry poses in these pages? Keep reading.
As a freshman at Valley View (Calif.) High School Davetta Sherwood faced a room full of teachers and school administrators and asked for their permission and support in staging a variety show at the school. The teachers thought about it and reached a split decision. She had their permission. She just didn’t have their support. Sherwood says only one teacher promised to help. If the show was to happen, Sherwood would have to organize it herself.
And Sherwood says she did just that.
She auditioned acts – singers, dancers, rappers and models. She trekked to the mall and begged merchants to lend her clothes for the fashion segment of the show. And she funneled the money she made as a telemarketer into promoting the event.
And one evening mid-February 1999 a sellout crowd packed Valley View’s auditorium to watch “Davetta Sherwood’s First Annual Variety and Arts Show.” Sherwood says the show grossed $3,700, the largest gate in Valley View’s history.
And Sherwood kept none of it. Because she had done all the work, the profit was hers but she donated all of it to the school’s performing arts department.
We told you she was different.
But Sherwood knew it already. Figured it out when she and her mother, Tracie Hunter, moved from Maryland to the San Diego suburbs at the end of her eighth-grade year.
“I didn’t like high school,” says Sherwood, who spent her childhood in New York City. “I found high school to be a fashion show. I’m more of a sweats, T-shirt and Timberlands kind of girl.”
On a snowy Saturday afternoon, Sherwood prepared to peel off a few layers for KING.
But not too many.
“Let’s keep my daughter sweet and innocent,” Hunter announces to a writer and the stylists gathered in the lounge of the photo studio.
When Sherwood finally emerges from hair and makeup, she lets the robe fall to the floor and she reclines on the white chair stationed in front of the camera. Aaliyah’s “I Miss You” is playing on the stereo and Sherwood pouts as she leans forward and whispers the words into the camera. “I miss you…”
Hunter pulls out her 35mm and shoots some photos of her own. She pores over the photographer’s proofs as soon as his assistant can pull them from the Polaroid.
“Do you think this one is too suggestive?” she asks. “She’s leaning back too far in this one…there’s too much boob here … I don’t like her lips in this one. Too red.”
Tracie Hunter doesn’t think she’s an overbearing stage mother. She split with Davetta’s father, David Sherwood, when Davetta was still in grade school. While Hunter and Davetta both say David is a great father, Hunter has had to be just about everything else: mother, chauffeur, manager, mentor, and friend. She helped Sherwood find an agent when she was 14, and she never blinked at driving her 90 minutes to Los Angeles for acting classes.
So when Hunter warns her daughter not to pose too provocatively, she’s not being pushy. Just protective.
It’s been that way since before Sherwood became an actress. Once, when Davetta was 13 and the two were living near Baltimore, Hunter let Sherwood host a party. When Hunter wandered into the basement she saw a bunch of eighth graders, “doing things I never would have considered doing at that age.” Like girls pinning boys against walls and grinding to slow jams. And girls sitting boys down in chairs and give them lap dances. At thirteen!
Hunter says that party helped her decide to move to California. That way, she could be closer to her brother and Sherwood would be far from the girls who wanted to grow up so fast.
But Sherwood is eager to grow up, too.
After acting in commercials and appearing on ABC’s My Wife and Kids, Sherwood hopes Platinum will catapult her into stardom.
“I look at this show as a step toward success, a step toward my destiny,” she says.
For Sherwood, destiny includes an album and leading roles in movies. “Five years from now someone has to have made the Aaliyah movie,” she says. “And I’m trying to play her.”
But for now, as the snowfall outside builds to a blizzard, she’s basking in her youth, happy being Davetta Sherwood.
She’s wearing a black bikini now and sitting on the floor in front of the camera. She wraps her arms around her shins and pulls her legs tight to her chest. She rests her chin on her knee and cocks her head to the right.
“Do I look like a little girl?” she asks the photographer.
“Yes,” he answers.
|Copyright ©2003 KING|