ASHLAND -- Landing a job in Hollywood can be considered reserved for only the most talented of actors, television personalities or musically talented individuals in the world.
Former Hanover High School student and Patrick Henry High School graduate Wade Davis, a talent manager, recently talked about his impressive and tasking career, in addition to the story he lived through getting to where he is now.
Davis, 27, a native of Montpelier, found that all he needed to do was follow his passion and be committed to working his hardest, and he didn’t need to be a star to do it.
“I had no idea that a kid from Montpelier, Virginia, could step into Hollywood and find a way to support and make a life for himself,” Davis said during a recent phone interview from Los Angeles. “It happened – and there’s nothing besides my urge to work really hard, to remain open, to accept feedback, and being open to commit to finding a way to make things work.”
After graduating from PHHS in 2008, Davis was accepted into Coastal Carolina University. After time passed on the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, campus, he withdrew from his classes and started making some wrong turns in life.
“I dropped out of college – I spent four years there and I probably got one year’s worth of courses done. I was getting in a lot of trouble while I was down there . . . I wasn’t living a very good life, and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life anymore,” he said.
He said he felt as though he had no purpose, vision, or “any passion for anything.”
Davis moved back in with his parents in Hanover County, where he made the decision to not go back to school or apply for any jobs.
“So, I said, ‘I’m going to start this music blog.’ ” He said his parents did not understand what he was doing. “They [said to me], ‘What are you doing? You’re not going to school, you’re living on our couch and you’re in your pajamas everyday writing this music blog.’ ”
Davis’ passion and the skills he could use in a career had been staring him in the face, and he hadn’t realized the real and vast potential it had in store for him.
He found passion in his love for music, and discovered personal talent in his natural ability to communicate strategically over digital platforms across online communities.
“I started a dance music blog, and nobody understood it, nobody got it – everybody just kept thinking I wasn’t doing anything with my life,” Davis said.
His blog was titled “White Raver Rafting,” and he said he was relatively successful. He started meeting people, such as publishers and managers, online via his blog’s reputation. It was an opinionated editorial and he explained how he had different editors contact him, asking him to remove certain content – it was getting attention.
“I didn’t know [then], but I was stepping into the news industry at the time,” Davis continued. “I was meeting all these people digitally – [who] would set me up later down the road.”
He remained at work on his blog in Virginia for two to three years.
“So, the time spent at my parents’ house sort of erupted – tensions were high, they didn’t understand what I was doing . . . they thought I was a waste of life at the time,” Davis reflected – acknowledging how “I really was, you know? I was a recovering drug addict, and running from the law in South Carolina – I had come home and wasn’t really doing anything, I didn’t know what to do.”
He said he knew what he needed to do, he needed to work on that blog – but it didn’t work with him living with his parents during that period, so he packed his bags and moved in with his grandmother.
“I was working on this blog, working at Maggiano’s [in Short Pump] and living at my grandmother’s – I was very unhappy,” he said again, regarding the situation he found himself in at the time. He then moved from his grandmother’s house into downtown Richmond.
“When I moved to Richmond, I moved in with a buddy of mine, and kind of went off the rocker again,” Davis said.
He started getting into more trouble. He was hanging out with bad influences and making a lot of poor decisions.
“I had an existential crisis.” He was in his car, and he “started looking in the rear-view [mirror],” when he said to himself: “ ‘Wade, what are you doing, what are you really doing? How did you get here? How is your life so disbanded that you ended up here?’ ”
“I freaked out.”
The next morning, he purchased a one-way plane ticket to L.A. “I had only been on one plane before in my entire life, I bought one ticket [and] sold everything I owned,” he said.
“I flew to California without anything, and my mom was balling, crying [as] she dropped me off at the airport because she knew I had no money.” “She [said], ‘What are you going to do?’ ”
Responding to his sad mother, Davis replied: “I think, as humans, we have to put our backs against the wall – because I think we’re built to survive. I think I’m going to find a way to survive if I truly put my back against the wall,” and then he took off.
After liquidating everything he owned in his name, including his car, and paying off all his remaining bills, Davis had about $100 left in his wallet when he landed in California.
A friend living in the area let Davis sleep on his couch for a period while he searched for work. He was accepted into an internship at one of Mark Cuban’s subsidiary companies, where he was given a $500 stipend to live off.
Davis spent $400 of that stipend to secure a bed for himself to sleep on in a room with two other people in the men’s tennis house at the University of California, L.A. in Westwood, a commercial neighborhood in the city.
Although obtaining real-world experience was a vital career necessity for which his internship provided him with, Davis still wasn’t earning any income. He was living off peanut butter sandwiches to make it by. At one point, he had to call his sister, Jordan Davis, in Virginia to order him a pizza in L.A. He froze it and rationed a slice per day.
Another challenge for Davis during that time was travel, due to not having a personal automobile or the funds to pay for public transportation. He found a children’s bicycle that had been abandoned.
“Every day I would look at it, and it wouldn’t move.” So, he decided to use the children’s bike as a means of getting to work, and, each day he returned, he put the bike right back where he found it.
Every day, seven miles each way, Davis rode this bicycle to his internship.
Eventually, realizing he needed to be paid full-time, Davis met a man named Jake Udell, who owned a startup artist management company in Hollywood, called “TH3RD BRAIN.” He gave Davis another internship, and soon after, he showed Udell some of his work on the blog and was hired as their head of digital marketing.
“We worked on our first project together from the ground up. Eight months after, we had broken the first-ever anonymous independent Grammy-nominated artist in history,” Davis said.
He said Third Brain Management is a company that manages talent. “What does that mean we do? We literally do everything – I’m [part] artist therapist, marketer, visionary for their career[s], I hire their whole team and direct that entire team.” He and his team have looked after the careers of artists such as soul singer Gallant, “America’s Got Talent” sensation Grace VanderWaal, and “The Voice” season 12 runner-up Lauren Duski.
In addition to managing the careers of his clients, the 27-year-old directs the whole company’s multi-million-dollar touring division, which does business in continents throughout both hemispheres, including the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.
Other responsibilities Davis holds include bringing in brand deals and negotiating every deal that comes in for an artist.
In his company biography, Davis is quoted as saying how they “Believe in fighting for artists. We have an incredible team and operation and we work hard to maintain that. There’s no better resource for an artist than a passionate and productive team. We’re young and with that comes disadvantage and advantage. But the challenge is what keeps us hungry every day. There’s no relationship in the world like that of an artist and their manager. It’s personal and business.”
Davis said he is happy about what he’s achieved, and looks at his entire life story as a positive experience.
In response to a question regarding what he’d say to the young adults in his hometown, he said he wanted them to realize their potential, and what they can do with it after graduation if they truly commit themselves.
Davis talked about how he would tell recent high school graduates and graduating seniors in Hanover County that “There’s more than [you] could even imagine [which you] can find support and make a living from in this world.”
“Don’t be afraid to take a risk – there’s so much more than you can fathom that’s out there for [you].”