By Carrie Steinweg
LANSING, Ill. (December 31, 2020) – When Donavon Lake enrolled for a semester of theatre arts class while attending TF South High School in 2011, he said he wasn’t much “into the whole theatre arts thing.” He enjoyed the class, but didn’t have any idea how much theatre and acting would play into his life in later years.
Roughly eight years after graduating in 2012, Lake is now a professional DJ and model, has worked on multiple television shows, and has been cast in an upcoming FOX sitcom.
Growing up in Lansing
Lake spent the first years of his life on the south side of Chicago with his family and attended Beasley School before relocating to Lansing. He attended Nathan Hale School from second through fourth grade, Heritage for fifth and sixth grades and then Memorial for seventh and eighth grades before attending TF South High School. He is a graduate of the TF South class of 2012. “I guess you can say I’ve been all over Lansing,” said Lake.
Although it’s been less than a decade since he last spent time as a TF South student, he has wistful thoughts of growing up in a simpler time. “I would have to say my best memories living in Lansing were just every day going to school and the time and era in which I was growing up. Things were a lot more simple and all you had to do was get up, go to school and try not to get in trouble,” he said. “Now being an adult I miss those days. I do miss the cruise nights and the parade down Ridge Road, just those nights hanging with friends, long walks from Lansing to Lynwood and enjoying being a kid and teenager.”
DJ, model, personal trainer
Since his TF South graduation, Lake has been working as a DJ under the name “Jukie Tha-KidD.” He’s a Chicago Bulls DJ and a guest weekend mixer on 107.5 WGCI.
“I have been working and just trying to stay motivated to do what I love. Outside of DJing, I have been doing a bit of modeling and personal training, which I am obtaining a certification for,” he said.
Lake said he’s currently signed to two talent and model agencies in Chicago—Gill Talent and Lily’s Talent Agencies—although work in that field has been scarce during the pandemic.
“The fitness side has been steady and my clientele is growing with the help of effective promotion and word of mouth from clients,” Lake said.
After high school, Lake left the Chicago area and attended The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences in Arizona, receiving certifications in Live Sound Production, Music Business & Audio Engineering. When he returned home in late 2013 after an internship in Los Angeles, he attended Prairie State College for two semesters before transferring to Moraine Valley Community College.
Embracing acting, challenges
After working on the set of several television shows filmed in Chicago, Lake got more interested in acting. He has worked on Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Empire, and Shameless. “Just being around the actors, watching them work, quickly learning scripts and working around the crew really pushed me to dig deeper into the art of acting and film production,” he said. “Plus I’ve always wanted to be in front of the camera or on the big screen.”
Lake was recently cast for the role of “The DJ” on the new FOX sitcom The Big Leap. Filming has been postponed until further notice due to COVID, but he expects to appear in the next season, for which an air date has not been released.
“The pandemic has definitely put a hold on most of my big events and plans I had for 2020, but it also gave me time to reflect on my life and my goals moving forward,” said Lake. “It has also taught me how to budget and hustle, because bills still have to get paid. I’m still a little angry about it, I’m sure everyone is somewhat annoyed by it, but I can’t continue to complain about it because it is what it is and, to be honest, it could be worse. There are people out here who have literally lost everything, I am blessed to have my health, my family, close friends, and to still be actively working and progressing.”
Inspiration and roots
He gives credit for where he is today to two important women in his life—his mother and grandmother. “They always wanted the best for us growing up,” he said. “They were both Chicago public school educators, so school was a top priority. All of us—my older sister, my cousins, and myself are all TF South graduates.”
Now that Lake lives in Chicago, he said he doesn’t make it back to Lansing very often. He did take a recent drive through town to visit a friend and enjoyed the trip down memory lane. His family has since spread out and none of them reside in Lansing anymore, so visits are more infrequent, but he still fondly remembers Lansing as home. “Since I reside in the city, I have fewer reasons to go to Lansing these days, but it’s always nice to visit and reminisce.”
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