Its 10:15 pm
Welcome to another edition of 8 Questions with……..
Back when I was in San Jose,I used to book a small punk rock club called Marsugi’s. It was a 21+ venue and every band I saw or booked there was over 21 as well. One day a pair of young kids,maybe 15 or 16 came in and wanted to drop off a demo kit. I was in my office when they came in and I took their kit and listened to the tape as we chatted.
The sound was raw,a little sloppy and the lyrics were punk rock generic….but they had drive and heart. So I booked them and explained that once their set was done,they had to pack out right away because of their ages. They were pretty excited and I could tell they couldn’t wait to their friends.
Night of the show and they showed up early….and what really impressed me was how professional they acted. They loaded in quickly,set up fast,did a sound check and then had to wait outside until their set. I gave them 30 minutes in a opening spot and as I was at the door my sound man John came up and commented on how young but poised these were.
They hit the stage,played their hearts out for 30 minutes and looked like they were having a blast and they were. They kept on looking towards the door where I was standing but it wasn’t me they were looking at,it was their parents who were standing besides me,all four sets of parents came and supported thier kids first paid gig.
After the set,they broke their gear down and the dads chipped in and helped out. They were pretty spent but as they gathered around their friends who had stood outside and cheered them on,one the dads whispered in his son’s ear. The young man came over and shook my hand and said “Thank you for giving us a chance”.
I believe in young artists…they can be extremely gifted and talented. But without strong parents who allow their their kids to shine and aren’t afraid on of keeping a firm hand on the shoulders,as we have seen so many times,without those parents,many young artist crash and burn. Its a just a fact of life.
So it was a real pleasure to be able to chat with not only with young Jeffery Benson but also his mother,Pam (or Mom Benson as she put it). While Jeffery is 10 years old on paper,his talent has him playing in much more mature roles like a cancer patient “The Boy Hero”. The fact he is able to play such a role that would have been casted by a older actor speaks well to the depths of Jeffery’s skill.
I see only the brightest future for this well grounded and family oriented young man and so let’s go ask him (with slight assistance from Mom Benson) 8 Questions…….
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your latest project
I’ve always loved singing, dancing and performing for my family. My parents tell me that when I was three years old, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’d always say that I wanted to be an overnight sensation. I had a dinosaur costume with a tail that I got for Halloween and I wore it everywhere for years until one day my mom said it “disappeared’. Guess that was because the arms and legs were to my elbows and knees. It wore itself out. I love movies and theater especially musicals or special shows at the local cultural center. There is a talent show at my school every year and last year I asked special permission to be a part of it because I was technically too young to join. I got the green light and sang an original song written and accompanied on the grand piano by a family friend who is a jazz musician in Chicago. I guess I did a good job (or they really liked my tuxedo) because I won first place. One of the judges who is a teacher at our school approached my parents and I after the show and asked if I’d ever performed in public. (I hadn’t) He suggested we look into some kind of performing because he thought I have a natural stage presence. From there, I took singing and piano lessons but quickly found out that acting was my “groove”. I started taking lessons with our local high school drama coach. My mom helped me find auditions online and signed me up for acting classes. From there, it’s spiraled and I’ve done three films and audition for different projects a couple of times a week. I’m getting better with practice and the more experience I have. I also take as many acting classes as I can in group settings and privately both in person and online.
What is the hardest part about acting for you? How do you get really sad or happy during a role?
The hardest part of acting for me is that there are so many roles I’d like to do but I may not fit the physical characteristics of the character. This is frustrating because I can’t change my physical attributes. I’m a thin blond haired Caucasian boy and accept that I need to wait for a part to fit my description. I know my type and look for those roles. When I need to be happy, sad, scared, excited or whatever for a role, I use experiences from my own life to remember how I felt and moved. I draw emotions from that memory. Now when something significant happens to me I take note to remember my feelings, emotions and check all five senses so I can recall it for a role in the future.
You played a child with cancer in “The Boy Hero”,did you have to do any research for the part? What did you take away from the experience?
I did research online about children with cancer. I learnedabout treatments and how the different treatments make them feel. I also read articles about how the families of sick children deal with the crisis as a unit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit a hospital setting but I hope to be able to visit St. Jude’s and meet some of the patients there. I hope they are able to see the movie The Boy Hero. In order to play the role authentically, I had to really shave my head and eyebrows. It took four months for my hair to grow back to where it was before we started filming. When my father took the cutters to my head, the reality hit me hard. It was a small sacrifice to make in order to raise awareness to this epidemic. I also pledged to donate a percentage of my own acting salary to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. There was a representative from St. Jude’s present at the world premier of the movie and it moved me to hear how much they appreciated the tribute of the film. I also have friends and family who have cancer so it was extra important to me to make a difference and to raise awareness.
Family is very important to me. As it turned out, this is the perfect time in my family dynamics for me to pursue acting. I have an older brother and sister who are both moved on to college now and my father is older and retired. My mom took a job as a substitute teacher so that her schedule would be flexible enough to take me on auditions. When opportunity for callbacks, test screenings, filming or attending film festivals presents itself, we are now able to take up and go. I have my parents full support and I am very lucky that we’re in the position right now that they can go where my career takes me next. Let the adventure begin!!
What is an audition and how do you prepare for it?
If another actor at the audition asked you for help,would you try and help them?
What do you like to do when you are not doing a movie? Do you have any hobbies?
When I’m not doing a movie, I have time to travel and spend time with my family. My sister is in college in North Carolina so I love a chance to go south and see her. My brother goes to college in Rome. So of course, Italy is one of my favorite places to go. This fall, my mom is going to let me use some of my acting money to fly all by myself to visit my brother in Rome. Having an older brother and sister helped me so much because I always lived in a house of adults using adult vocabulary and discussing advanced topics. My dad and I have a lot of “unusual” hobbies. We do white water canoe racing, he’s helping me to become certified to scuba and we run 5K’s together (I even beat him in the last race). We hike long distances and love to camp in the Adirondack Mountains. It’s peaceful and smells like pines. We have an antique car and 1936 mahogany Chris Craft motor boat that we run and show in competitions. But I also love just doing normal kid stuff and play soccer, basketball and can always find time for Fortnite.
How important is it to protect our rivers and forests? Do you have any advice for anyone new to camping or being in the outdoors?
It is so important to protect our rivers and forests. But not only is important to protect them because that’s the obvious part, it’s important to get out there in nature and enjoy them. Nature is free rejuvenating entertainment. But, it’s to be respected. My dad and I do a lot of canoe racing on the rivers that are usually sponsored by environmental organizations. These organizations are involved in cleaning up the rivers and shores. They work tirelessly to provide clean beach access, picnic and disposal areas and sponsor free family fun. My advice to anyone new to camping or outdoor exploring is to tread lightly. You are on precious terrain so respect it. Don’t leave trash, don’t disturb nature or vandalize it, follow the rules about firewood removal or bringing firewood into an area (there are all sorts of invader insects that are already destroying the forests) and of course be responsible with fires. But do get out there and explore. When I go hiking with my dad, I come back so refreshed. There’s nothing like the smell of pine and the peacefulness of turning off our electronics so we can hear the birds. No matter what your vacation budget, anyone can go out for a day even just on State Game Lands and take a walk. (It’s free.)
What does a agent and manager do and can anyone get one?
I like to thank both Jeffery and Mrs. Benson for letting us do this interview,thanks for giving us a chance to do this. We are looking forward to seeing this young man on the big screen very soon.
Like any working actor,Jeffery has various ways his fans can follow his career. All of his accounts are monitered by his parents.
For more info on “The Boy Hero”