Talk Time with Shayla Day Davenport of Empire

17 years is a looong time! No matter the context and in any stretch of human conception, this is an extended period of time. Now, suppose we are dealing with tenure on a job, even that is considered too long. –If we are to be correct in saying so this day and age.

If you haven’t been squandering under a rock these past few months, then you’ve heard of the hit phenomenon that is Empire. Queen of the new FOX TV Series, Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson), also mother of three sons, ex-wife and ex-convict, served a 17 year stint in the joint. As the story goes, Cookie is said to have taken a distribution wrap -synonym for drug charge for her, then, husband Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), CEO of Empire Entertainment.

In an earlier episode, Cookie reveals to her natural sister Candice (Vivica A. Fox), that she made sisterly bonds with fellow inmates. Although, we weren’t actually around when Cookie Lyons served her time in the slammer, a recollection of the powerful scene depicts a frightened Cookie returning to her correctional facility to face her past. One thing we can say for Cookie, she always has a purpose. After hearing that her big event, Cookie’s Cook-out wasn’t going to materialize, Cookie decides to perform for her former inmates. There was an underlying hope of securing her next big artist, affectionately known to her real-life fans as ‘DaBrat’. [Kudos to Lee Daniels and team for allowing art to imitate life in this segment]

EmpireBooBooKitty caught up with one of Cookies’ back in the joint cellmates, who in Season 2 Episode 10, stars as Spider (Shayla Day Davenport). Thankfully, she wasn’t wearing the orange onesie slash prison cover-alls that she appeared in on the show. This customary prison look doesn’t go well with anyone.

Let’s have some talk time with Shayla Day Davenport. In her scene, she plays the thirsty inmate with eyes for talent, Veronica and hips us all to the knowledge of why Cookies’ old cell block had been shut down. Spider replies, “We 10 bitches- in-a-bunk meant for Two!”

Shayla Day-Davenport Empire
Shayla Day-Davenport Empire

It’s no question that playing on a show of its caliber will pivot anyone’s career. Prior to her role on Empire, Shayla Day Davenport is an accomplished actress, writer and producer. Yaaaas!
She made her big debut in a credited speaking role in season 2 of the Fox hit television show Empire (Ep. 210 Et Tu, Brute?). She has also appeared in films such as The Dark Knight starring Heath Ledger and The Express starring Dennis Quaid, as well as season one and two of the Starz television series Boss starring Kelsey Grammer, NBC series Chicago Fire, the MTV series Underemployed, the ABC series Doubt and a commercial for Exxon Mobil. She has also worked as a production assistant for the CW Network show The Next. Shayla’s strengths also include directing and camera operation for multi-camera studio shoots, script writing, EP scheduling and budgeting, and production management.
Shayla attended Aurora University where she obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. She also attended the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism with a Minor in African American Studies. Shayla was also a scholarship basketball player at Ole Miss. Credit: Davenport, S. D (2016) Google [Web post]. Retrieved February 17, 2016, from
Davenport goes on to talk about how she is not at all surprised of Empire’s success due to the great acting and writing. She adds, “It’s very addicting and keeps you tuned in every week and I’m really excited that it was picked up for a third season.” She highlights, it was a good thing to showcase Cookie returning to the prison where she’d served her time and though her life has since evolved; Cookie had not forgotten the women left behind. Their struggle as mothers, daughters and sisters doesn’t lessen the fact that they, too, are still human beings. Hopefully, Lee (Daniels) and the team of writers are able to delve into things a little moreso in future episodes. Fingers crossed and heads to the sky!
As aspiring actors, readers and viewers of the show, many of us want to know what advice Davenport could give for people whose dream is to be on Empire. She confirms that it’s not easy! Ya-think?  However, it was one of the greatest experiences of her life and you should never give up the hope.
When EmpireBooBooKitty went in for the kill questions, we weren’t even shocked that no upcoming predictions leaked from Davenport. She’s an all-around good sport and the perfect team player. Shayla concludes she will be cool with whatever is played out. Well, can you blame her? The show is just that fun to watch, and we just love all the characters. #teamempire
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