There’s a pattern in Christopher Davidson’s photo collection. He’s either surrounded by a group of kids transfixed by his turntable and the beats he’s making with it, or by hundreds of party guests as they tear up the dance floor at a wedding, birthday celebration, or corporate function. In almost all of the images, he’s in the background of the shot, wearing headphones and an enormous grin.
Known by most as DJ Savvy or Chris, he has spent the last 13 years growing what started off as a hobby disc jockeying while he was at university into one of the most comprehensive event management operations in New South Wales. His business, Savvy Entertainment, was in 2017 awarded both Best DJ and First Runner Up in the Photo Booth category by the Australian Bridal Industry Academy NSW.
This is no small feat given that while he has refined his DJ skills and grown his business, Chris has also served in Antioch Youth Movement and the Couples for Christ (CFC), Youth for Christ (YFC) and Singles for Christ (SFC) communities. He also worked around the clock as a hospital porter and forklift driver to pay for his wedding.
Chris tested his physical and mental limits by training for and competing in a bodybuilding competition and hired and mentored new members of the Savvy Entertainment team. If that wasn’t enough, he also organised and attended multiple fundraising events and mission trips in the Philippines to support the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation (GK) in their mission to alleviate poverty.
“My vision for my business is very much about impacting people in a positive way,” Chris says. “I want to make a social impact and a positive one in whatever I do. If that’s making people happy, entertaining them, creating opportunities for them, if it’s helping them live a life of purpose, that’s great.”
Though he’s no doubt a busy person and runs a business that operates primarily on weekends, Chris still makes time to go to Sunday Mass with his wife and mother. “It’s great that I moved into [working on] weddings — now I get home at a decent time! When I was working in clubs, I would pray that I’d get home before the sun rises,” he explains, chuckling.
“When people ask me why I do what I do, I think I really just want to help people. My parents, they were always helping people so I saw faith in action early,” he says.
When his father passed away when he was 11 years old, Chris also witnessed an outpouring of love and support from the community who rallied around his family. “When times were tough when I was younger, I didn’t realise it then, but I was helped by a lot of people. I was never left without. When mum had to work three jobs, I didn’t even realise that my neighbours and my auntie and my cousins were helping us.”
While his faith in his community was strengthened, losing his dad left a younger Chris questioning his faith in God. “[Mum and Dad] were very much part of the Church, but when Dad passed away, I questioned that. Especially when I got into high school and there was Parents Day – kids are mean, man. Growing up, I didn’t know where I fit in,” he explains. “Losing someone that you love early taught me a lot quickly. It made me grow up a lot quicker. It made me a lot tougher.”
The spirit of community Chris experienced as a child was what sparked his journey back to the Church.
After high school, a friend invited him to a YFC youth camp, which helped him rediscover his relationship with God. “It helped that everyone was sharing about stuff [they were going through]. I think they gave me confidence to be able to share what I was feeling in a relatively private environment. We could empathise with each other. There was one point when I realised that it wasn’t God’s fault that Dad died,” he says.
After the camp, Chris started attending more youth events, including those run by local parishes, SFC and Antioch. Chris admits he spent a of his time at Good Shepherd Parish, Plumpton, questioning the priest with one of his friends. “We weren’t trying to cause trouble,” he explains. “We were just curious and we didn’t want to settle for something we weren’t sure about. In the end faith kept us in line and taught me about my values, like respect.”
Chris’ questioning led him to a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith and a deeper conviction for his passion for helping other people as a way of putting his faith into action.
In 2004, he travelled to the Philippines for his first mission with GK and was inspired by the conviction of those in the GK villages to create a sustainable future for their own families. He returned to Australia determined to continue supporting GK, and it was through these activities that he met his wife, Irene. Together, they now balance philanthropic work through local and overseas communities with their day jobs; Irene as a nurse and teacher, and Chris as an events director.
When asked for his advice to young Catholics wanting to work in the entertainment industry, Chris slaps the table. “Don’t!” he says, laughing. “No, I’m kidding. I’m all for it. But you’ve got to know why you’re doing this,” he explains.
“You got to know your ‘why’ because you’re taking a risk, you might not even have one person on your side. But if you believe in yourself, if you’ve discerned, I tell people ‘understand your why’, because that’s what’s going to pull you through it.”
Chris adds that the values he learnt as he was rediscovering Jesus and the Church – respect, integrity, service, leadership – are key to guiding not just his business decisions but his life decisions too.
“You’ve got to know what you value; you don’t belittle yourself and what you believe in just so you can push your business. Every step of the process you hold those values,” he says.
“Who you are in front of your friends and your peers should be the same as when the camera is not on you. That’s very important, I think, whether it comes to being a professional, being Catholic, just being a person really – you’ve got to be aware of your values every single time.”