Rising Star Sam Benjamin On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry

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Be specific. Stop chasing everything, and chase what really matters to you. Be unapologetic about what you want to do. Think about what you can offer that others cannot.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sam Benjamin.

Sam Benjamin is an actor and screenwriter from Merseyside, England who has appeared in the BBC shows Doctor Who, The War of the Worlds, and Peaky Blinders. He also played ‘Shapiro’ in the action movie I Am Vengeance: Retaliation alongside Vinnie Jones and WWE’s Stu Bennett on Netflix. He now stars in the new British crime caper movie The Pay Day alongside Simon Callow which is available now in the USA, and from December 5th in the UK on digital VOD.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I’m the son of a hairdresser and a forklift truck driver in Merseyside England. And I hated school. So my childhood was a lot of escaping into worlds with action thriller movies on a Saturday night at my Dad’s flat, or kicking back with my Nan on a Tuesday after school with a Hollywood musical or classic romance film. When I was playing with friends or my cousins we would be running around pretending to be Batman, pro wrestlers, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I could share many, but we would be here all day! I will say that ever since I was a kid I wanted to be an actor. Whenever I was acting as a boy, it just felt right. Like I knew what to do.

One big moment I always remember was walking out of the cinema with my Mum and Step Dad having just watched the first Mission: Impossible movie. I had a high I had never experienced. And I thought not only did I feel like I wanted to do all the defiant, adventurous, courageous, dramatic things Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt did in that film, I also wanted to give help give other people that high.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I don’t know if it’s the most interesting thing, but a funny thing happened when I was shooting Peaky Blinders. I was playing a Liverpudlian police officer character and we were shooting on the Wirral, where all my family is from, including my granddad, Alan Cook, who was a policeman. He died years ago. But when I got cast I thought isn’t this interesting? That my grandad did it for real, and here’s me just putting on a uniform and pretending to be a police officer. When it came time to shoot and I put the police officer uniform on, the wardrobe assistant came in and the first shirt I tried on didn’t fit. She went away and brought back a different one, which she said was an actual police shirt. I examined the shirt when I put it on, and oddly, there was a name tag sewn into the collar…and the name was Alan, the same as my grandad! What are the chances of that? It felt like he was watching me from above. I put on the shirt, and channeled his energy into the role.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The Pay Day is special. I’ve done interesting and exciting projects before, but this one feels different because I’ve been wanting to do a movie with Kyla Frye and Sam Bradford for years. It’s in one of my favorite genres, the crime caper, and also has heartfelt themes about the working class experience in the UK. And if that wasn’t enough, being both the leading man and a screenwriter on the same film is a proud moment. If you’re doing something that Sly Stallone, Jack Nicholson, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have done in the business, it’s hard not to be excited!

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

I once got told to look in the mirror and see yourself aged eighty six. Ask that person how they feel about you going on a courageous adventure full of failure, to pursue something that will give you joy. Usually they will smile at you and say ‘go for it’.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

The wider the range of stories and experiences we can draw upon to make movies and TV, the more likely they will be rich with captivating, interesting characters and lessons. When people see characters on screen that are from their background, their country, hometown, culture or identity it can be a great source of inspiration. If we have movies and TV shows that show a world or a culture that is totally different to our own, we can learn lessons and get a better perspective on our own experience.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Be specific. Stop chasing everything, and chase what really matters to you. Be unapologetic about what you want to do. Think about what you can offer that others cannot.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My focus is on inspiring people through the characters I play and the stories I tell. I think of it more in terms of reaching individual people. If I can help bring some joy, escape, reflection and some positive energy to someone then I’m happy.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Sir Patrick Stewart. When I was around nineteen I got selected for a special summer training school for young actors with the National Student Drama Festival. Sir Patrick came in, taught us some Shakespeare and shared his journey, and his wisdom. He may not know it, but by taking the time to meet and teach a little bit of acting to me was a big turning point in instilling belief in myself that I could make a living as a professional actor.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

‘It ain’t how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forwards’ from Rocky Balboa. The older I get, the more this rings true. Obviously this is really accurate when you do dozens and dozens of auditions and get rejection after rejection. You have to hold on, and just keep turning up, working hard, and keeping the faith. But it applies to many elements of life. You win by staying in the fight.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Zack Snyder. Worked with him briefly on Zack Snyder’s Justice League. I think he’s a visionary director and I’d love to shoot the breeze about movies, exchange some ideas and see what he’s got coming up!

How can our readers follow you online?

Find me on instagram and twitter with the handle @sambenjaminnow

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Rising Star Sam Benjamin On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.