Entertainment and sports attorney Doug Davis spoke passionately about his desire to do good in the world during his acceptance speech at the 2018 Variety Power of Law breakfast, where he was being honored for his trailblazing legal career and generous philanthropic work.
Held on Friday at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, the event drew a crowd of high-profile lawyers from Los Angeles to New York, including Ken Ziffren, founding partner of the Ziffren Brittenham law firm, who participated in a Q&A with Variety co-editor-in-chief Claudia Eller.
Davis, founder of the New York-based Davis Firm (and the son of music mogul Clive Davis) has made philanthropic endeavors a priority since a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment over a decade ago gave him a new lease on life. He is now cancer free, devoting his life to various humanitarian causes, including City of Hope cancer treatment and research center in Duarte, Calif., for which Davis has helped raise $3.5 million.
“I realized It’s harder to say no than to do something and it created a model in my life of ‘don’t say no,’” Davis told the crowd. “So when someone calls me and says, ‘Doug, can you do something for my cause,’ I think, ‘don’t say no.’ If I don’t have time or I don’t have the ability to commit to an event, I’ll give a modest donation. No or nothing is a harsh and cold answer to me when someone tells you something is important to them. You can’t say nothing and turn your back.”
Davis’ most recent project: producing an album, titled “American Dreamers,” with thematically patriotic tracks recorded and sung by DACA program recipients from all over the country.
Due out this September — “just in time for midterm elections,” Davis said — the album is meant to support young dreamers and provide them with a voice through which to prove their worth as artists, musicians, and citizens of the United States.
“These songs are performed at the highest level of aptitude — showing that dreamers, immigrant kids, really are just as talented, love America just as much as ‘Americans,’” Davis said. “It was the vision where I saw I could use music as a vessel for a cause to make a greater impact, where we could create a soundtrack for dreamers going into the midterm elections and have a say in what’s going to happen.”
The album will also serve as a tool to debunk erroneous and damaging stereotypes of DACA recipients.
“They’re not criminals, they’re not lazy, they’re the most hardworking kids I’ve ever met,” Davis said. “If you know any dreamers, they don’t have to be musicians, I encourage you to have them reach out. We can have them tell their stories. They can clap, they can hum, they can speak, they can sing –they don’t have to play instruments. We want to have as many dreamers as possible on this project.”