by Kayla Davion
Where do I begin? The year of 2018 was a year of exponential growth for me. I had a lot of growing to do that had both everything and absolutely nothing to do with theatre. I think it’s important for people to be truthful in the moments that messed with their sanity and the moments that brought unspeakable joy. I’m usually a very secretive person over my own battles, so bear with me.
Here goes nothing…
2018 started very real for me… I started right where I needed to be, which was in a church. Truth is, I was dealing with more than I thought I could handle in 2017. I landed my first Broadway show, which was amazing. Yes, but that also came with a bunch of struggles and setbacks. Let me be clear in saying that I left school and went straight to Broadway. That means “booked and blessed!” That also means everyone is counting on you to “not screw up.” I’ve been a pretty good ‘grown-up’ since before I left for college; most people would say I was one of the most grown up, stable people they knew. However, now I was in this new city trying to be a grown-up completely alone.
In the first year that I had been in New York, a couple of things happened; I lived in mice-infested sublets. I completely lost all insurance that I had, which led me to covering things like dental surgeries out of pocket, I had a full-on vocal scare and had to retrain the way I sing and talk, and I ended a five-and-a-half-year relationship. So, things were not going well for me.
This is where I broke down, but also began to rebuild myself. 2017 ended in depression, and 2018 for me was this adventure of figuring out who Kayla was again. This meant taking accountability for my thoughts and actions and forcing myself to take ownership of my own self-care.
Now I don’t want to make this sound like it was an easy thing, because it wasn’t. And it’s difficult to believe that it was hard, because, I mean again, I was on Broadway. The main question that I was hit with was, “You’re just living the dream, aren’t you?” But to be honest, it didn’t feel like I was living any kind of dream I had dreamt about when all of the things that I characterized myself as were all being taken away from me. I didn’t feel stable, I didn’t feel like my talent could withstand anymore, and I didn’t get to have the person I considered my best friend and love of my life on the journey with me. So in turn, I actually felt completely and utterly lost.
There were times I couldn’t even imagine getting out of the bed to go live this idea of a dream. The thing that pushed me onto this journey of accountability was honestly my faith. Now I know that is even harder to believe, but I am not joking when I say I kept hearing a voice that said, “Wake Up.” And boy, was I in for an unexpected treat of what waking up really meant. So now I’m on this journey in 2018 trying to figure out how to “Wake Up.”
Naturally, I thought that meant figuring out how to forget the B.S. that has happened and figuring out how to move on. What I learned that it actually meant was to admit. It meant to admit the wrong that was done to me, the wrong I did unto others and to admit the feelings and outcomes that it all created.
I began to be real with myself while speaking affirmations into my own life. I admitted that I was heartbroken, but I spoke learning how to love my own skin and being alone into my life. I admitted that stability for me looked like money and a name, but I started working on how to be emotionally and mentally healthy. I admitted that my talent felt like a crutch when it came to being accepted, but I spoke remembering that I am my own identity without my voice simply by the way I move on the earth and that no one can take that from me.
I admitted a lot, more than I thought I was ready for. What I admitted brought me to an understanding of who I was and led me to an even greater future than I could’ve imagined.
I got to make history as the FIRST African-American woman to debut in the role of Dawn in Waitress, I landed my first co-star role on the TV show The Good Fight, and while on set, I also landed my first original Broadway show, King Kong. My future seemed brighter than it had ever been and only continues to move forward.
What I realized is that sometimes losses teach you how to be a more whole and healthy person. The question is: “Are you willing to admit?”