Tamra Davis

Tamra Davis (born January 22, 1962) is an American film, television and music video director.

Tamra Davis
Born (1962-01-22) January 22, 1962 (age 59)
Alma materLos Angeles City College
Years active1986–present
(m. 1993)

Early life

Davis was born the second out of four children in Studio City, California. She was exposed to the media industry at an early age by her grandfather, a comedy writer, and her grandmother, who was an actress at Fox. Davis and her family constantly watched films and she aspired to become an actress. In the 11th grade, Davis dropped out of high school and met Egyptian film producer Ibrahim Moussa. Ibrahim took Davis to Italy for six months to work.

Returning to the U.S., Davis worked at an art gallery but soon quit to work at American Zoetrope in an apprentice position. The studio was struggling to complete Francis Ford Coppola's Waterloo, One From the Heart; the hectic schedule allowed Davis to study Coppola's directing and the business. Coppola suggested to Davis that she go to school, at which point she then attended Los Angeles City College.[1]


Davis first shot a film using a super 8 mm camera during her time at Los Angeles City College.[2]

As soon as she got out of school, Davis sent out a package of videos that she had done and was hired to do a video for the band Hüsker Dü. Davis states that music videos "played a huge role in developing my sensibility as a director. There's much less sexism in the video world and they're open to women. But more important, with video you're always being pushed to experiment and come up with something new."[1] During her career, Davis ended up directing over 155 music videos.[2] While working at MTV, Davis was encouraged to engage in her empathy towards multicultural and feminist issues.[2] Christina Lane stated in her book Feminist Hollywood: From Born in Flames to Point Break that as a person who was knowledgeable towards feminist politics, Tamra Davis wanted to empower young women to feel good about their sexuality.[2] Lane also mentioned that Davis used her platform to voice feminist ideas and empower girls.[2]

A writer at the Los Angeles Times reported, "Over the past seven years, Tamra Davis has made a name for herself directing cutting-edge videos for some of the thorniest acts in popular music. As director of choice for performers such as N.W.A, Sonic Youth, and Black Flag."[1]

Davis participated in The Polygram Video's program called No Alternative: A benefit for AIDS, education and relief which had a section in their program where multiple independent film directors created a series of short films.[2] In this program, Tamra Davis directed a short film called No Alternative Girls which discussed gender inequality.[2]

Tamra Davis also directed Guncrazy (1992), a film which starred actor Drew Barrymore.[2][3][4] This film was a remake of the 50s film Gun Crazy. Many books and articles have stated that her film had similar elements to Bonnie and Clyde.[2][3][4] Christina Lane acknowledged the mixed reviews for Davis' film. Lane wrote that some thought the film was too violent and others said the violence was necessary for the story she was telling.[2] When asked about the violence of the film Davis said she did it because she wanted a strong emotional reaction from the audience.[2] In the book, Davis expressed that she was not cautious when it came to her audiences’ emotions.[2] Davis stated, "I wanted to say something about how our society abuses people and yet gives them violent possibilities to turn that abuse back onto society."[2] Before the production of the film, Davis researched reactions teenagers had to sexual abuse. Davis said that she also looked at how a teenage girl's everyday life changed after the abuse.[2]

Davis is also known for directing films such as Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child, CB4, Billy Madison, and Half Baked and television shows such as My Name Is Earl and Everybody Hates Chris. She also directed the film Crossroads, starring Britney Spears.[5]

For the film CB4, Rupert Wainwright was originally asked to direct the film.[2] Davis was their second choice after Wainwright turned the project down.[2] According to Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, the comedy made fun of the seriousness and sexism of rap music videos while also taking a look at how Hollywood has misused African-American culture in the industry.[4] Foster also examined that Davis was not part of the writing of this film. However, it was noted that she did add her own knowledge of music videos, rap, and politics into the film.[4] ' 'Feminist Hollywood: From Born in Flames to Point Break discussed difficulties Davis had with the production of the film.[2] These difficulties included a limited time to film, the filming conditions due to the heat was difficult, and the script was changed often.[2] The book also mentioned that Tamra Davis speaks highly of her time working on CB4.[2] Foster wrote in her book, Women Film Directors: An International Bio-Critical Dictionary, that this film proved Davis’ skills as a comedy director.[4] (formatting needs fixing)

According to an article in The New York Times, Tamra Davis had trouble finding a good location for the Western for the film she was originally supposed to direct, Bad Girls (1994).[6]

Many sources state that the studio disagreed with the feminist approach Davis was taking for the film Bad Girls (1994).[2][4] According to multiple sources, many producers were in disagreement with what Davis wanted within the film.[2][4] Lane revealed that the budget given was not enough to provide Davis with the equipment she needed.[2] In the end, Davis was replaced with director Jonathan Kaplan.[2][4] With the new director, the script was rewritten and the earlier footage was abandoned.[2][4]

Currently, Davis has a cooking show showcasing vegetarian fare called Tamra Davis Cooking Show accessible on her website www.tamradaviscookingshow.com. She also wrote a cookbook titled Make Me Something Good to Eat.[5]

Personal life

Davis has been married to Mike D of the Beastie Boys since 1993, but they are legally separated.[7] They have two children, Skyler and Davis.

Critical reception

Davis' debut feature film Guncrazy received a review saying that "in Guncrazy, Davis delivers pow entertainment with a twist: It matters."[8] Davis' co-worker Drew Barrymore praised her work ethic: "It's a real honor and much of the credit goes to Tamra because she's easily the best director I've ever worked with. Anyone who gets to work with her is lucky because the scope of her talent is huge and her vision is really pure."[1]



  • Make Me Something Good to Eat (2009)


Year Title Role Notes
1992Guncrazydirectorfeature film
1993CB4directorfeature film
1994 Bad Girls* director feature film

*"removed from production during filming; footage scrapped"[4]

1994 No Alternative Girls director independent film[2]
1995Billy Madisondirectorfeature film
1997Best Mendirectorfeature film
1998Half Bakeddirectorfeature film
2000Skipped Partsdirector; executive producerfeature film
2002Crossroadsdirectorfeature film
2002Keep Your Eyes Opendirectordocumentary
2004Method & ReddirectorTV series, 1 episode
2005My Name Is EarldirectorTV series, 1 episode
2006A Conversation with Basquiatdirectordocumentary
2006Everybody Hates ChrisdirectorTV series, 1 episode
2006Love MonkeydirectorTV series, 2 episodes
2006Men in TreesdirectorTV series, 1 episode
2007Ugly BettydirectorTV series, 1 episode
2007Grey's AnatomydirectorTV series, 1 episode
2008The Ex ListdirectorTV series, 1 episode
2010Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Childdirector; producerdocumentary
2010Sons of TucsondirectorTV series, 1 episode
2011Single Ladiesdirector; executive producerTV series, 21 episodes; 14 episodes
2013The Punk Singerproducerdocumentary
2013Hit the FloordirectorTV series, 5 episodes
2015Odd Mom OutdirectorTV series, 2 episodes
2015Crazy Ex-GirlfrienddirectorTV series, 1 episode
2015YoungerdirectorTV series, 4 episodes
2016Still the KingdirectorTV series, 3 episodes
2016Mary + JanedirectorTV series, 2 episodes
2016Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective AgencydirectorTV series, 2 episodes
2017Santa Clarita DietdirectorTV series, 1 episode
2017StardirectorTV series, 2 episodes
2017Daytime DivasdirectorTV series, 1 episode
2017You're the WorstdirectorTV series, 3 episodes
2017Kevin (Probably) Saves the WorlddirectorTV series, 1 episode
2018Alone TogetherdirectorTV series, 5 episodes
2018EmpiredirectorTV series, 1 episode
2018God Friended MedirectorTV series, 1 episode
2019Future MandirectorTV series, 2 episodes
2019Valley of the BoomdirectorTV series, 1 episode
2019High School Musical: The Musical: The SeriesdirectorTV series, 3 episodes
2020Miracle WorkersdirectorTV series, 1 episode
2020Dead to MedirectorTV series, 2 episodes
2020StargirldirectorTV series, 1 episode

Music videos

Year Title Artist Notes
1986"But Not Tonight"Depeche Mode
1986"Baby Ran"54-40
1987"Shoplifters of the World Unite"The Smiths
1987"Sheila Take a Bow"The Smiths
1988"Anne's Song"Faith No More
1988"In Your Room"The Bangles
1988"Wild Thing"Tone Lōc
1989"Closer to Fine"Indigo Girls
1989"It's Funky Enough"[9]The D.O.C.
1989"The D.O.C. & The Doctor"The D.O.C.
1989"Cha Cha Cha"MC Lyte
1989"Bust a Move"Young MC
1989"Principal's Office"Young MC
1990"From a Distance"Bette Midler
1990"Kool Thing"Sonic Youth
1991 "Call It What You Want" New Kids on the Block
1991"Dirty Boots"Sonic Youth
1992"Netty's Girl"Beastie Boys
1992"100%"Sonic Youthwith Spike Jonze
1992"Daughters of the Kaos"Luscious Jackson
1993"I Got You Babe"Cher with Beavis and Butt-Head
1993"It's About Time"The Lemonheads
1994"Big Gay Heart"The Lemonheads
1994"Bull in the Heather"Sonic Youth
1994"Citysong"Luscious Jackson
1995 "I Dig You" Boss Hog
1995 "Pacer" The Amps
1995 "Away with the Pixies" Ben Lee
1995"All Hail Me"Veruca Salt
1995 "Kiss and Tell" G. Love & Special Sauce
1997 "Drawer" Summercamp
1997"Where's the Love"Hanson
1998"Boy, You Knock Me Out"Tatyana Ali
1999"Ladyfingers"Luscious Jackson
2001 "Movies" Alien Ant Farm


  1. McKenna, Kristen. "This Young MC Is a Movie Mixmaster Film: Tamra Davis combines her experience making cutting-edge videos with Hollywood's past to get the gritty 'Guncrazy.'". Tribune Publishing Company. ProQuest 281814491. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. Lane, Christina. Feminist Hollywood: From Born in Flames to Point Break.Contemporary Film and Television Series. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2000
  3. Levy, Emanuel. Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film.New York: New York University Press, 1999
  4. Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey. Women Film Directors: An International Bio-Critical Dictionary. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1995.
  5. "Tamra Davis Cooking Show". tamradaviscookingshow.com. 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  6. Weinraub, Bernard (May 3, 1993). "Hollywood Recycles the Western to Offer New Heroes: Women". New York Times.
  7. "Mike D's Endless Summer: How Ex–Beastie Boy Found New Peace in Malibu". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  8. MacCambridge, Michael. "Take a shot at 'Guncrazy' // Movie may lead Drew Barrymore on comeback trail". ProQuest 256222213. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. "On the Job Training: Part Nine". Wax Poetics. 2012-06-22. Retrieved 2012-12-24.