Exclusive Interview: Top Hollywood Director Hannah Lux Davis Talks About Her Success, Being Friends With Nicki Minaj And How She Plans To Work In Africa

Believe it or not, more than 5 of your favorite music videos have been directed by a fiercely talented lady whose journey to success is the best thing you’ll learn this year. If you listen to Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Nick Jonas, Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony or David Guetta, just know that she’s already had conceptual breakthroughs with them.

Hannah Lux Davis is one of the most sought after directors in Los Angeles as you read this, something she never expected to happen 4 years ago.

All of this never came to be easily; she had to adopt a sort of detour to get to where she is. The Los Angeles Film School alumni has always been brilliant in the decisions she made and projects she has worked on.

In a 2015 interview with Racked, Hannah revealed that she was a PA on the set of The Unit, a military drama. But she had to be aptly innovative in order to bolster her career. She had to do intense networking — and urgently.

“I always saw it as a way to get on set and meet people without having to be a PA. I took it as an opportunity to be around conversations and see some of the creative process,” she said.

She would then work on directing small film projects and working with make up artists to pay her bills the coming years.

“..before you know it, the right kind of people see your work,” she revealed in the feature.

I discovered Hannah back in 2013. The video for Cher Lloyd’s “Oath” featuring Becky G was trending back then. I watched the BTS footage and loved it. Little did I know that in 2015, I’d rediscover the director. She comes across as an irresistibly charming lady. Could it be the reason why she is constantly texting with her friends Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande? I guess so! But hey, there’s more to that. She’s beautiful and intelligent; her work ethic is impeccable. Hannah’s videos have gotten hundreds of millions of views, for instance, “Bang Bang”, a Jessie J song, has 615,058,519 views at the time of this publication.

hannah lux davis
Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj whom she worked with on “Bang Bang”.

Some of her previous projects include “Love Me” by Lil Wayne featuring Drake and Future, Jason Derulo’s “Marry Me” and Tinashe’s “2 On”.

Like I said, my conversation with her is the best thing you’ll read this year:

Me: Hannah, literally all of my favorite music videos have been directed by you. From “23” ft. Miley Cyrus and Wiz Khalifa to Sage The Gemini’s “Good Thing” ft. Nick Jonas. As a music video director, this is literally your dream come true. So tell me, where do you want to be in two years?

Hannah: Thank you! That’s so nice of you to say! I’ve loved music videos for as long as I can remember, and I’m over the moon to be making a living at directing them. How iconic and monumental they can be to the artist’s image and career – it’s pretty cool to be a part of an artist’s trajectory and influence pop culture in that way.

Me: I recently read that you’re constantly texting with Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. They are your biggest collaborators. That’s like the best part of being a highly trusted creative…did you ever imagine yourself doing this 4 years ago?

Hannah: Yeah, it’s nice when you can have a direct line to the artist when making their videos because these days timelines are FAST, and sometimes it’s beneficial to the project to be able to streamline communication. I love to collaborate with the artist, and there are times when it can be easier to do that when it doesn’t require you to go through other people.

On the same token, not all jobs are the same, and everyone in the business have their jobs for a reason and we’re all on the same team to make a great video. But artists can have crazy schedules, be on the other side of the world, or the band is more than one person, etc., and in those cases, organized communication can be necessary. But if you were to tell me I’d be texting with Nicki Minaj 4 years ago, I may not have believed you!

hannah lux davis

Me: What are the challenges that you’ve faced over the years to be where you are today?

Hannah: Music videos are not easy, and I always hear about “the good ol’ days” in videos when there was like 2 weeks prep time and budgets quadruple what they are now! Sigh.The fast turnaround from when the job awards to the shoot date is usually one of the big challenges we are faced with.

For example, I just did a video that shot on a Monday and it booked the Friday before – AND I happened to be shooting on that Friday it booked, so I could hardly count that as a day of prep for me. You have to have a solid crew around you that you can count on in order to pull off miracles like that, haha! I’d say a lot of the challenges we are faced with stem from that ticking clock in one way or another.

Me: Your music videos are not only HD but also colorful. I love that. Is that part of your branding or we should expect some shift to darker themes in the near future?

Hannah: I have always loved vibrant, saturated colors in a visual form, and it’s usually what I am drawn to in film, videos, and photography, but that’s not to say I don’t love to indulge in darker, more desaturated imagery. You tend to get hired for what you do, and what I have done a lot of is colorful pop.

My personal aesthetic has definitely evolved over the years – I used to wear a ton of neon and color – and now I dress in a more muted, neutral color palette. People always find that interesting, as if they expected me to be super colorful like my videos. But like my own style, my eye is always evolving.

Me: How was it putting together “Bang Bang” which is like the feminine club banger of 2015?

Hannah: “Bang Bang” was a whirlwind! It was my biggest job to date and there was a lot of pressure on the project to be killer. The song and the video were releasing the same day, which made the visual the first thing many people were going to associate the song with, which was super cool. I had an amazing team around me, and the commissioner at the label was extremely supportive of my vision, so I knew I was in good hands.

I prepped the video as if I were prepping for a huge commercial – with storyboards and all – and every detail of the shoot was as thought out as it possibly could have been, so when curveballs came up on set, which they normally do, I was able to approach them with confidence. Working with three powerhouse pop stars in one video was a rush. When you’re in the moment and all three artists are looking to you for direction after the first take (we only shot like 3 takes of them all together for that finale scene), it was one of those moments in my career I’ll never forget.

tinashe 2 on
She also worked on Tinashe’s “2 On” music video featuring ScHoolboy Q.

Me: What was your dream growing up as a little girl?

Hannah: I knew I wanted to “go to Hollywood” and do something in the industry, but wasn’t sure how to articulate it. I always loved how music was incorporated into film and had a knack at an early age to piece music together with images. All my short films and projects I made throughout high school always had a killer soundtrack – at least my friends and family thought! My sister was and still is an actor/singer in musical theatre growing up, and I would always critique her performances as if I knew what I was talking about. In hindsight, there was some definitely some foreshadowing going on, haha.

Me: When not on set, what do you do for fun?

I’m honestly kind of a homebody and I’ve created a cozy living situation at my house, so whenever I have downtime I’m usually laying low with my boyfriend and our cat, Kevin watching some good TV. Going to the movies is probably one of my favorite things ever, so that’s also up there with chill time with the cat. Right now, I’m really into anything that can help me grow as a person and as a director, and I’m taking acting classes, reading a lot about psychology, and really trying to get to know myself.

I’ve recently fallen in love with boxing and it’s a great way for me to let loose and get some aggression out! Crafting, shopping, and hanging out with my close circle of friends are also ways to bring a smile to my face. I used to be completely consumed in the work and that was my fun (I mean it’s still fun, don’t get me wrong!), but I’ve learned with age that balance is so crucial.

Me: What are your biggest plans for this year?

Hannah: Learning more about my craft is a top priority this year. I’m taking lot’s of workshops about directing and acting, and my goal for the year is to complete a short film. Since most of my work is music videos I know that’s a mandatory step for me in order to make a feature down the line.

Me: Now that you’re pals with celebrities, does It feel any different, from the days when you were struggling to have your work recognized?

Hannah: Haha, pals with celebrities. I mean it’s definitely nice to work with artists who people have heard of. When I was doing videos for artists people didn’t know about it still felt rewarding, but nowadays, millions and millions of people are watching- obviously that is exciting!

hannah lux davis
Hannah Lux Davis, music director @haitianev and The Weeknd after the filming of Ariana Grande’s “Love Me Harder”.

Me: What does it take to be a film director? Are there any special hobbies and interests someone should have?

Hannah: This is a tough question, because being a director requires a certain type of personality. Patient (something I thought I never was), and an inherent ability to listen and observe. Directors are like detectives who tell stories. It’s an incredibly intimate art form and in my experience, it’s important to have a willingness to be vulnerable. It’s also not a solo endeavor by any means, so being able to communicate clearly is imperative. Creativity is only the tip of the iceberg.

Me: Is life in Hollywood as rosy as it seems?

Hannah: I wouldn’t really say I’m living a “Hollywood life”, but I do love living in Los Angeles. It’s super-charged with creativity and ambition which motivates me daily. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find someone in the industry. Even though the industry is incredibly competitive, there aren’t many places in the world, I’d assume, with that kind of camaraderie.

Me: If you were not a film director, what else would you do?

Hannah: I can’t imagine being anything but a director in all honesty. My personality type just doesn’t fit any other career! I’m so laser focused on it, that anything else would be like…totally phony to me!

Me: What’s that thing that you do every morning that keeps you going?

Hannah: My morning routine consists of working out, drinking a smoothie, making my bed, taking a shower (not always), and getting ready for the day. I’m incredibly organized in my home and personal life, which allows me to be able juggle how crazy my work schedule can be. I never know what I’m doing, even a couple days out, because things happen so fast in this industry. If there is something I can control in my life, like my organization etc., than I’ll make sure to stay on that.

hannah lux davis nicki minaj
Hannah with Nicki on the set of “The Night Is Still Young”. They are tight pals.

Me: Have you thought of doing a project in Africa? We have amazing talent here in Kenya…

Hannah: I actually almost did a video in South Africa a couple jobs ago because an artist was shooting a movie there, but the job ended up shooting in LA! I’m sure there is lot’s of talent, and I’d love to do something there in future!

Me: I have many friend musicians who would want to make it globally, but they’re having issues with funding their videos or finding the best director. What’s the best advice you have for them?

Hannah: I’d tell them to stay creative and make whatever they can themselves. It’s really hard to get those first few jobs going, but you won’t get closer by NOT doing anything. Surround yourself with people who motivate you and support your goals, and be a nice person. Nobody wants to help an asshole.

Me: Finally Hannah, what are your future plans in terms of family and career progress?

Hannah: I see myself directing music videos for a long, long time, so I don’t think that will change anytime soon. Beauty commercials, fashion campaigns, feature films, and planning a wedding would also be nice. 🙂

Check out Hannah’s website and Wikipedia page for more information about her. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter to get updates on her latest projects!

Here are her other projects:

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