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Originally published August 3, 2011 at 9:46 AM | Page modified August 3, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Edmonds native Brett Davern stars in MTV's 'Awkward'

Brett Davern, who auditioned for his first musical in fourth grade at Edmonds' Madrona School, now stars as Jake on MTV's comedy "Awkward."

Special to The Seattle Times

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An actor's journey often takes unforeseen twists and turns. For Edmonds native Brett Davern, that meant he auditioned for one role on MTV's new comedy "Awkward" but ended up playing a different character all together.

A scripted comedy that premiered in late July to decent ratings and glowing reviews, "Awkward" follows the travails of 15-year-old Jenna (Ashley Rickards, "One Tree Hill") after she loses her virginity to her crush, Matty (Beau Mirchoff, "Desperate Housewives"), who then doesn't want to be seen with her at school.

Davern initially auditioned to play Matty, but creator/executive producer Lauren Iungerich saw Davern more as Jake, a popular high schooler who dates the head cheerleader but treats Jenna with kindness, hinting at the possibility of a love triangle to come.

"Brett is not only a very funny actor, he's very empathetic and he's got a huge range," Iungerich said. "Jake is an old soul from the get-go ... Jake thinks for himself and not with the team. That's just something Brett had innately."

The road to a starring role in "Awkward" began at Madrona School in Edmonds.

"It's weird to say an elementary school has a drama program, but they actually do," Davern said, noting he auditioned for his first musical in fourth grade.

At Edmonds Woodway High School, Davern wanted to join the freshman football team, but being "below five feet tall and less than 100 pounds, I got my butt kicked."

Instead, he auditioned for the soprano lead in "Oliver!" when his voice had yet to change.

"It was great for me, but it also upset all the senior girls because usually Oliver is played by a girl in high school," Davern recalled. "I got the lead but alienated the girls, which was not a smart move."

Davern credits one of his high-school teachers, David Quinn, with introducing him to Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y. Davern attended the theater camp for three summers with actor Sebastian Stan ("Gossip Girl," "Captain America"); other notable alumni include Zach Braff ("Scrubs"), Lea Michele ("Glee") and Natalie Portman ("Black Swan").

After graduating from high school in 2001, Davern took classes at Shoreline Community College — no general education, just voice lessons and arts classes, making it "my own little conservatory" — and then attended a two-year program at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York.

After graduation, Davern got a manager and went to work as his manager's assistant, assuring he'd know about audition notices that came into the office. He landed a lead role in the 2006 independent film "Beautiful Ohio," directed by actor Chad Lowe. William Hurt and Davern played a father and son in the 1970s.

"I remember him telling me, 'Tomorrow, Brett, I want you to bring a baseball and two gloves, because that's what a father and son do,' " Davern recalled. "So I spent two months playing catch with William Hurt in the backyard of a house in Brooklyn with him telling me about working with Christopher Walken on Broadway."

Davern moved to Los Angeles four years ago, accumulating guest roles on "CSI: Miami," "Medium" and "Cold Case," but he still gets back to Edmonds to visit his brother Brian ("My biggest supporter"); mom, Vicki, a school-office administrator; and dad, Tim, who runs Davern Safe & Lock in Phinney Ridge.

Davern was in Seattle earlier this summer filming an independent movie, "Junk," written by fellow Edmonds Woodway alums Kevin Hamedani and Ramon Isao.

Now Davern is learning the spotlight burns brighter when it shines on an actor in a MTV series. He's been swamped by fan interest since the debut of "Awkward," especially on social-media sites — he has more than 2,200 followers on Twitter (@bdavv).

"I made a vow to reply to anyone who talks to me on there, but it's becoming overwhelming," he said. "At heart, I'm a kid in Edmonds, sitting in a basement watching old movies. The fact that I'm sitting at The Beverly Hilton talking to you is blowing my mind. It's all been fun, but it hasn't really sunk in yet."

Freelance writer Rob Owen: RobOwenTV@gmail.com or on Facebook and Twitter as RobOwenTV.




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