Syracuse University Magazine

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Malcolm-Ali Davis ’18

Entertaining Success

Malcolm-Ali Davis ’18 appeared in his first commercial when he was just 3 years old—doing a radio commercial for a New Jersey aquarium. More commercials followed, along with voice-overs, television roles, ensemble work in a production by The Opera Company of Philadelphia, and an appearance in a play presented by The Classic Shakespeare Company of Philadelphia. At age 10, Davis landed the part of Young Simba in the national tour of Disney’s Broadway musical The Lion King. “I had never done musical theater before and my family didn’t even think I could sing,” says the native of Galloway, New Jersey. “But the eight months I spent performing in The Lion King turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life—so far.” 

The troupe traveled to six cities—from Ft. Lauderdale to Minneapolis—and he was accompanied on the tour by his mother, Michelle, whom he calls his greatest support and motivator. “We were already very close, but being on that tour brought us even closer,” he says. “When I was not at the theater, I was with my mom. It was a very unusual experience.” He continued performing through high school, and his resume includes two trips as an entertainer on cruise ships.

When it came time for him to attend college, his family recommended he study something outside the entertainment field as a way to support himself while pursuing his acting and singing careers. Because his parents, Martin Davis ’78 and Michelle Walker-Davis ’82, G’85, brother Martin-Abdul ’12, and sisters Divinia ’10 and Destiny ’15, all graduated from Syracuse University, they encouraged him to choose SU for his college experience. At first, he resisted the idea, wanting instead to study drama at a university in California. “I applied to Syracuse because I had to,” he says with a smile. 

A visit to campus resulted in a chance meeting with iSchool professor Jeff Rubin ’95, G’98, whose enthusiasm for the field inspired Davis to study information technology. “The whole idea of it just clicked with me,” he says. “And I absolutely fell in love with the campus.” The University’s proximity to his home—allowing him to visit often—and the fact that he’d be able to attend SU with his sister Destiny, who was starting her senior year, clinched the deal. “It was our one final opportunity to be in school together and I just couldn’t pass it up,” he says. “Plus, my family legacy is Syracuse, and I didn’t want to be the one to break the mold.”

Now a junior in the iSchool’s information management and technology program, Davis is one of the school’s peer advisors and a member of the support staff of SIDEARM Sports, a campus-based company run by Rubin. Highly involved in campus life, Davis serves on the University Conduct Board and the Student Philanthropy Council, and as founder and president of Conversations, a new organization focused on connecting students through peer dialogue. “The goal is to bring together students of different backgrounds to have conversations about topics you normally wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing,” he says. “We talk about social and political issues, as well as things that are happening around campus.” 

In addition to his studies and other activities, Davis continues to pursue his entertainment career, performing at venues on campus and releasing his first two song titles, “The Last Time” and “Cinderella.” His plans for life after graduation are focused on living in New York City or Los Angeles and performing as a singer/actor—with the confidence of being able to support himself with a job in IT. —Paula Meseroll 

 Photo by Steve Sartori