When the COVID-19 pandemic forced production shutdowns and office closures, Jaime Dávila, president and co-founder of Campanario Entertainment and executive producer of “Selena: The Series,” found himself “mostly working in bed, college-style,” he says with a laugh.
Three months into the pandemic, though, he realized it was time to finally carve out a dedicated workspace in his Los Angeles home, the most important piece of which is his standing desk. His company has always had the philosophy of “working where you are,” but he is excited to get back to the “human-to-human contact” of in-person meetings.
“If you’re a fan of ‘House Hunters,’ Hollywood is one of those great businesses where you get to see a bunch of different spaces. Now you’re seeing a lot of home spaces and it doesn’t feel the same,” he says.
Dávila proudly displays an impact award Campanario received from the National Hispanic Media Coalition next to his desk. (He also serves on the board of that org.) “It’s such an amazing award because you get a Frida Kahlo-inspired work. I love combination things: awards-slash-art,” he says. Even more important than the style of the award is what it represents to him. The former Bravo exec left his “cushy” suit-and-tie job to start his own company with the mission of centering on inclusive stories. From ABC’s “Red Band Society” to Netflix’s “Selena,” Campanario has carried that out ever since. “We’ve come a long way, and this reminds me a lot of the importance of teamwork,” he says. “And it’s nice to get awards that point to, ‘You’re on the right path,’” he says.
Keeping Kin Close
Around his desk, Dávila has many pieces of his children’s art, but he also displays his wife, Melinda’s, work. He is particularly fond of a drawing of their twin sons she did that they gave out as a party favor at their October 2019 birthday party. Not only is the item extra special since that was the last time they could have a group celebration, due to the pandemic, but “it’s that ‘Clueless’ line of ‘I have the picture you took in my locker,’” he says. “I always wanted to be a dad and my kids inspire me, but my wife drew this, so I think about her, too, when I look at it, and I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without my wife.”
During his multi-year journey to bring to life a biopic about singer-songwriter Selena Quintanilla, Dávila visited the Selena Museum in Corpus Christi, Texas, and got to know some of her surviving family members. On one of his trips he picked up a hat from the museum’s store — the only one with this coloring they had because, he recalls, her sister Suzette Quintanilla just hadn’t made a lot in this style. “It reminded me how unique Selena was,” he says. He also considers this piece of memorabilia a nod to Selena as a trendsetter. “It’s the idea that sometimes you have to go against the grain,” he says. “That drive inspires me. I could have stayed [an executive], so I look at this hat almost like, ‘Oh man, it was so risky to do this, but it was worth it.’”
Memories and Memorabilia
As a huge fan of Disneyland, Dávila is always eager to talk about his favorite park attractions, memories and merchandise. His Haunted Mansion tiki mug is one of the latter and certainly a conversation piece, but he calls it a “sit and stare mug,” meaning that he likes to look at it to reminisce. “It was a hard one to get,” says the collector, who also has a stash of Disney Parks popcorn buckets. “It was at Trader Sam’s, which is my favorite place at Disneyland, and it reminds me that it’s 7 o’clock somewhere!” The Haunted Mansion design has an extra-special meaning because that is his wife’s favorite ride, which he says has now superseded the Jungle Cruise as his favorite ride, too.
Where Art Meets Culture
Since about the age of 5, Dávila has collected alebrije, Mexican folk art sculptures. In part, this is because he loves to surround himself with “color, brightness, art and design,” but also “they remind me a lot of Mexico and my family.” His grandmother gave him his first alebrije when he was young, but now some his favorite, intricately wood-crafted pieces are an owl (“My high school mascot and it happens to be my mom’s favorite animal”), a kangaroo (“The last trip before my wife got pregnant was Australia and we stayed at this resort outside of Sydney where there will literally be kangaroos outside your door”) and an otter (“My wife’s spirit animal”).