KEVIN D. BENTON ON THE ACTING GRIND
Actor Kevin D. Benton has been on Church Stars radar since 2016 when he was nominated for best actor in a faith-based film, and we've kept up with him ever since. With over 80 roles in film and television in just 4 short years, we had to talk with Kevin to learn just how he's accomplished so much in such a short time. Here's what he shared:
What attracted you to begin a career as an actor?
What attracted me to begin a career as an actor was, I’m always looking for ways to reinvent myself once one phase of my life is completed and while searching for a new challenge in my life I ventured back to one of my childhood passions which was acting. I have always been a movie lover growing up and participated in my grade school plays and decided to pursue it again as an adult under the auspices that it is never too late to reinvent yourself and dream. After my experience on the set of “CREED 1” the rest was history. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. That’s when I decided that Acting is what I wanted to do.
How long have you been an actor?
As it pertains to one who has always loved to pretend growing up as a kid – all my life but from a professional standpoint, I have been acting for about 4 years and the journey has been awesome!
From where did you get started? I got started acting in the grade school stage plays and I absolutely loved it. My first role was playing Superman. I had to wear a cape and jump off of a chair from behind the curtain and onto the stage to give the impression that I was flying to the rescue. The immediate reaction I received from my family and the audience was indescribable.
How many plays and films have you done so far?
As my love and focus has primarily been Film and Television, I have been in over 80 films and only 1 stage play called “Gypsy Joe Harris: Son of Philadelphia where I played a Boxing Trainer. It was so much fun but it takes up a lot of time with rehearsals, especially during Tech week. I like the idea of being responsible for preparing for my scene, filming them and being done. Also, some people have shared that they love theater more because of the immediate gratification that they get from connecting with the audience. I get a lot of fulfillment from connecting with the audience while sitting among them at one of my premiers and listening to and watching their reactions to my performance on the big screen.
When was your first role as an actor?
My first role as an actor was playing the Casino Security Guard in the Multi Award-Winning short film “Misfits” directed by the awesome and super talented Director Johno Faherty. The movie was about a high-level thief who meets an arms dealer and they embark on a crime spree together across their city. When it premiered at the Drexel University Senior Film Show I was so proud to see myself on the big screen.
How different is it to act in a movie then to act in a theater play?
In a theater play, you have to know the entire script. In each act/scene you have to know everyone’s lines so that you know when you are supposed to come in to deliver your lines. Character progression can be easily seen in theater because the scenes go in order, straight through to the end, whereas in film you can shoot your scenes out of order. When this is done in film, one has to remember where the character is in the progression of the story and portray that in a believable way. Also in theater you don’t have the luxury of the Director saying “Cut” and taking it back to the top of the scene as you would in film and so you have to keep going no matter what happens. If you get off track, or forget your lines, you have to find you way to get back on track or hope that one of your cast members will “safe you” so that you can remember your lines and place. In theater you have to project your voice outward into theater so that the person on the balcony can hear you and you can utilize the various different parts of the stage whereas in film you project your voice inward. As I said earlier, in film you have the luxury of the Director saying “Cut” and starting the scene over in the event that a mistake is made. Also in film movement can be more limited depending on the blocking. There are some similarities to acting in a theater play and film but there are many important differences that we have to keep in mind. The Director usually will help the actors with the expectations of the production.
Tell us about what you're working on now?
I am so thankful to God that it seems like I always have a project that I am currently filming, getting ready to film or will be filming in the near or far future because I’m really other grinding. As far as what I’m working on right now, I can’t say due to Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that I signed but I can say that I am really excited about a project that I have been cast for that is going to require wearing a costume, a lot of makeup and prosthetics. I have see it done in Hollywood and have always wanted to be in a project that does the same.
Have you progressed in your acting career as you have expected?
To be honest, God has done exceedingly and abundantly above all that I can ask or think, with the best being still yet to come. My acting career has progressed so much better than I could have expected. I got into acting for humble reasons – for the challenge, to connect with positive, good people, to provide positive functions for my family to get together instead of at funerals and for the free food. For God to open up all the doors that He has, allow me to win the nominations and awards that I have, to get invited to the places that I get invited to, to meet and work with all the awesome and talented people that I have, to shake hands and take pictures with people who I have watched on TV, all of which the average person may not get the opportunity to do in a life time has been nothing short of amazing.
What role does your faith play before auditioning or accepting a role?
My faith plays a very important role before auditioning such that I say a prayer and have confidence in my preparation. My prayer and preparation helps me to trust that God has already blessed me with favor before I arrive to the audition. I go in and give what He gave (my all) and let the chips fall where they may. Whether I get cast for the role or not as long as I can walk out of there having given my all, I am pleased and I know that God is pleased. If it is for me I will get it and if it not I accept that it just was not for me and that God has another role for me. As it pertains to accepting a role - while it is only art, I have to be mindful of certain roles that could potentially be a stumbling block to me or others. Therefore certain role I don’t go out for or may have to turn down. Other than that, once I pray about a role and God gives me clearance it’s a go. It’s very challenging because while you want to advance your acting career, you want to try to maintain your morals and values. I know that confession is good for the soul but bad for the reputation as they would say in church lingo but if I can be honest, I have taken a few roles that I probably should have passed on. However, most of the characters that I portray are noble roles.
How do you stay centered in your faith and keep God in the forefront?
My faith is everything. It’s just not a part of my acting but it is a part of my everyday life. My faith in God that was engrained in me by my family and church upbringing has taught me to live with an attitude that gives God all the glory. Therefore, I live with a consciousness that, all that I am and all that I am not is only because of Him. This allows me to put God first, keep Him first, keep the proper perspective, remain humble, remain thankful and keep Him in the forefront.
When you had difficulty with a character, have you consulted God for help?
Yes, I not only try to consult God for help with the difficult characters but also the not so difficult characters. Whether it is an “easy to portray character” for a lack of a better phrase or a not so easy character, I want God’s blessings upon my preparation and performance.
What was the role and why was it challenging?
The role I played was Bobby Mason in the Feature Film “Emergency Landing” and it was difficult because the character was the total opposite of who I am in real l
fe. Bobby Mason was a super spiritual, self-righteous, pessimistic, controlling and unsupportive to his wife dreams. The other thing that made portraying Bobby Mason very challenging was that I had to portray the stages of anger in a believable way and so the degree of difficulty was very high. I think that I did a pretty good job. I was nominated and won some awards for that performance.
When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
When I have a 5 minute break during rehearsal I pick up my script and I am back to studying my lines. This gives me a refresher so that when go back on set I am ready to perform at a high level with the goal being to be the best believable me as I portray my character.
What’s the last thing you do before you step out on set or the curtain goes up?
The first and last thing I do before I step out on set is say a prayer to ask God to bless my preparation and my performance. Hopefully the character that I portray will resonate, touch and connect with the audience in a positive and memorable way.