After attending an early and advanced screening of the then-unfinished 2006 film “Bobby”, Clayton Davis, the respected and esteemed Awards Circuit editor was then a contributor to the website The Oscar Igloo. Clayton was so taken by the film that he immediately went to work on writing his thoughts and feelings and delivered to the site a comprehensive and richly detailed film review. Within days of posting his 4-star review, the film’s director, writer, and star, Emilio Estevez sent a direct message to Clayton thanking him for his review. Additionally, Estevez indicated that because of Clayton’s review, The Weinstein Company had changed their minds and decided to leave the performance of Estevez’s father, Martin Sheen, in the final cut of the film. It was that experience and at that precise moment that Clayton knew that a career in film was truly his calling.
Growing up in the Bronx, Clayton was the youngest in a family of seven children. Alongside two brothers and four sisters, Clayton saw much of his formative years take place in Jersey City, New Jersey, an area he still calls home today. After graduating high school and setting off to college, Clayton turned his focus towards Communications, with an emphasis on Film Theory, History, and Criticism and graduated in 2007 with a degree in Communications and American Studies from St. Peter’s College. Clayton began teaching and focused those efforts on teaching Religion, Film, and Drama, before moving on to new opportunities.
Alongside his teaching experiences, Clayton was a staff writer with the aforementioned Oscar Igloo website, an awards and film-related website that allowed Clayton and other writers to hone their craft on movie reviews, industry analysis, and other happenings. The Oscar Igloo was popular and held its own with other Oscar-themed websites of the era and Clayton was a proud contributor. Clayton’s life changed forever however when Oscar Igloo’s Editor-in-Chief, Johnny Alba, revealed that for personal reasons, he could no longer maintain and run the site and contacted Clayton about possibly taking over the daily operations. After some contemplation, Clayton accepted the offer and immediately, Johnny and Clayton realized that changes were needed when an unexpected turn of events led them to have to make some quick decisions.
“I became the Editor in April 2008, and right from the get-go, Johnny and I decided that we could not keep the Oscar Igloo brand name. AMPAS were cracking down on the name and likeness of Oscar being used on the Internet and they had contacted us at that point and threatened a lawsuit for copyright infringement. We decided it would be best to play it safe and we went with a more dynamic and universal name, The Awards Circuit.”
With Johnny stepping away, Clayton discovered a whole new world opening up to him. Struggling to find a balance between his vision for the site and the previous popularity of The Oscar Igloo had its challenges. “With the Awards Circuit, the foundation is the Oscars, but I see it as so much more than that. It’s awards in general. It’s attempting to capture the feelings we get when we watch a movie, TV show, or hear a song. The artistic transformation a piece can have and the element it encapsulates is one of the most beautiful things in the world. The Awards Circuit embraces and allows any lover of the arts to become a part of our community.”
Recently, The Awards Circuit rebranded and streamlined its presentation to something more aesthetically pleasing and modern, a move that Clayton felt was necessary for relevancy. “We have influence. We are read by Oscar voters, studios, filmmakers, and actors on a daily basis. With our redesign and our team of writers, we needed, as a community, to move forward. A very generous donation from Robert Hamer helped put serious plans into motion. Robert will always be a big counterpart to the Awards Circuit’s success from this point on.”
Still in his mid-20’s, Clayton has a family of his own and striking a balance can be a challenge. Recently celebrating his 1-year wedding anniversary, he and his wife, Jessica, have an 8-month old daughter who keeps everything in proper perspective. “My life’s dream is to have the Awards Circuit be my only job, but until then, I have to create and find a balance. I make sure my family remains first and I have a champion of a wife that lets me do what I do and be as understanding as possible.”
Naturally, it doesn’t hurt that his wife is a fan of the movies as well. “She is a movie fan. She reads the site and offers many suggestions. I take them under consideration and when I use them, she takes the bragging rights…to a whole other extreme!”
Since April 2008, Clayton has experienced many changes personally, professionally, and through his work on Awards Circuit. He has worked incessantly hard at finding the right mix of writers, film reviewers, and essayists to convey the vision he has for the site. Although he writes less reviews nowadays than in the past, and oversees upwards of 20-30 articles per week for the site, including an expansion into television with new Managing Television Editor, Anna Belickis, he has never lost his passion for the artform of the feature film.
Of utmost important to Clayton is to foster and create a deeper community with Awards Circuit. In that regard, “We, as a community, can shed the fear of being criticized and let our inhibitions go. In 3-to-5 years’ time, I want Awards Circuit to be one of the biggest sites for arts and entertainment lovers in the world. We’re well on our way there and I cannot wait for it to happen!”