Stars in TBS’s Tyler Perry’s House of Payne – the #1 rated comedy on the network
Has acted in Madea’s Family Reunion, Daddy’s Little Girls, Madea Goes to Jail, and more
Best Supporting Actress 2004 – LA NAACP
Personal Asst to Steve Harvey for 8 years
BA, Spellman College, Atlanta
Cassi Davis: House of Grace
GOOD AND SWEET
According to industry publication Broadcasting & Cable, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne was a ratings success when it debuted on TBS. Among the African-American audience it targets (ages 18-54), it tops anything else on television - the #1 show in all of network prime, cable and syndication. In primetime, it topped Grey’s Anatomy, Dancing with the Stars, Desperate Housewives and CSI. For Cassi, the success of the show is just another example of “God working all along.”
She grew up in Holly Springs, MS, with three siblings and parents who were strong believers. Though she was in church most of her life and sang in the choir since age 5, it was in college where she realized that “church wouldn’t keep me.” She needed a personal relationship with Jesus herself. Her faith was first tested the summer between high school and college when there was a fire in her home in 1984 caused by a shortage in the wiring. She became angry with God because she reasoned that He let this happen. "I had no understanding,” she says, not knowing the Word of God. Her dad rebuilt the home in six weeks.
In college she fell further from the Lord. “I was using drugs. I was out of order,” she says. During her senior year at Spellman, she left college. She wanted to sing a certain personal song but when denied that opportunity, she left.
Cassi says she had always wanted to act though she didn’t have a definite plan on how to do it. An opportunity came when Chip Fields, mother of Kim Fields (“Tootie” on Facts of Life), held auditions in a local theater for a play. When first approached about being in it, Cassi was high and cussed her out. The play was The First Lady starring Vicki Winans. “Touring with the play led me to Christ,” Cassi says. That was in 1991 when she came to the end of herself and totally dedicated her life to the Lord. It was then that her relationship with Jesus became good, sweet and different. He became her personal Savior.
She moved to Los Angeles in 1991 and tried her hand at making it in entertainment. A pivotal role was for the show Hanging with Mr. Cooper, but she didn’t get the role. When she lost out on a role to Mel Carter, Cassie got mad with God again but stayed in relationship with Him. In 2001 she got out of the business and worked as Steve Harvey’s personal assistant.
GOD WORKING ALL ALONG
In 2002 Cassi was at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, when she was approached by Tyler Perry, who asked for her number so he could talk to her about acting in some of his plays. She was skeptical and dismissed him. Tyler Perry contacted her periodically for two years, and she always turned him down. Finally, at the urging of a friend, Cassi called him back. He wanted her for the play, Madea Goes to Jail. Cassi took the part, and “the play went on and on.”
Tyler’s success continued to grow, and she was cast in more parts with him. Through everything Cassi says she knew it was the hand of God all along working in her life. Tyler then had this idea to pair her and co-star LaVan Davis (not related) and put this show on television. Though there were negative reviews at first, they have great chemistry and the show took off. Cassi also sees how God prepared her by letting her work with Chip Fields, and later working with Steve Harvey for eight years, getting to learn the business side of the entertainment industry up close in LA. “I had a desire but it was squashed,” she says. The test was to see if she would wait on God, she says.
Cassi plays the part of Ella Payne, matriarch of the Payne family. She says the show falls in line with the wonder of God’s Word and how He does things. It is a strong message going out. Her father has gone on to heaven, but she says her mother and family are so happy for her. She says she is in the overflow of God’s blessings. “I hope people hear that I’m grateful (to Him) and sincere,” she says. .
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