Brittany Benjamin: Actor, Performer, and Lifetime Learner
Although Brittany Benjamin doesn’t technically run her own business, her life as a working actor revolves around constantly “selling herself.” Operating essentially as an independent contractor, Brittany’s career depends on her drive to perfect her craft, audition for work, and search for new projects. Read on below to discover how she sustains her passion for performing in a difficult industry, strives to always be learning, and balances her professional goals with family life.
Tell us about what you do:
As an actor, I’m essentially an independent contractor! I’m constantly “selling myself” and my talents/abilities through the audition and submission process. It’s a hustle here in the Twin Cities! I have an incredible agency in Minneapolis called Moore Creative Talent. My agent, Carol, has been with me for about 18 years. I act in commercials and film, do Voice Over work, and online and catalog print modeling work.
What was your first job growing up, and what did you learn from it?
I started out babysitting (which gave me childcare experience and prepared me for becoming a mom), and then had a series of part-time jobs including retail sales, store management, and group fitness instructing. I think constantly working itself is a lesson. If you’re always giving your best and striving to do well, it almost doesn’t matter what you do. I learned a lot about being a “people person” through all my jobs. It’s rewarding to find connections with people, however big or small they may be!
Tell us about your career path before starting your own company:
From an early age, I always wanted to be a performer. However, it’s a labor of love and a process to learn how to monetize effectively. I loved the work so much; it was difficult to charge for my time and talents. I wanted to work and was happy be part of projects with little to no budget, especially as a young actor. Eventually, as I perfected my craft and put time and energy into my level of professionalism, I began to charge unapologetically. It’s just like any business. You can’t sell yourself short just because you love it, or you won’t stay afloat!
Tell us the story of why and how you started your business:
I met my agent Carol while studying acting in college. I was lucky to have representation at an early age and began the process of auditioning regularly. It’s more difficult to find work in a smaller market like Minneapolis/St. Paul. However, after a short stint in Los Angeles, I knew I wanted to raise my family here and decided to make this artistic area my long-term home. There are so many creators and constant projects going on in the Twin Cities - it’s busy, and I LOVE busy.
What is a typical day like for you?
I begin by getting my kids to school or wherever they need to be, and then it’s off to auditions or shoots. (Usually about three a week, depending on the influx of work and the season.) There’s typically a portion of my day dedicated to administrative work such as photos, websites, emails, social media and reading any new scripts or preparing material. Occasionally, I need to travel for a commercial or film shoot, so there’s always something to do regarding my family and an upcoming project. I also do a fair bit of networking and attend festival screenings to support local artists.
Tell us about a tough time in your life. What did you learn from it or how did it make you stronger?
I’m currently experiencing one of the harder seasons of life. My dad is very sick with stage four cancer, and seeing him undergo treatments and measures to prolong his life has been difficult and emotionally intense. The joy he has when spending time with his grandchildren and family has helped me to put life into perspective.
Sometimes, in my business, you hit a lull and want to be busy working. But currently, I’m letting go of the need to be overly booked and focusing on family first and career second. There are times in life when your career slows down, and that’s okay. Knowing our time on earth is finite helps me to be grateful for the work I have, but also the flexibility my job allows in hard seasons.
What advice or tips would you give to a new business owner?
In my opinion, the hard and fast rules of becoming a new business owner are:
1. Love the business you are going into
2. Be prepared to work your butt off
What’s next for your business? What are some of your short-term or long-term goals?
My goals as an actor are to continue growing and taking on bigger projects with wider scopes. I don’t aspire to be “famous.” As I have aged, I’ve wanted fame less and less; I now desire quality work telling important stories. I recently decided to write, produce, act in, and direct my own short film and am submitting to festivals. Getting into production and directing is a natural path for me, but it’s intimidating! I’m learning a lot and working alongside so many talented people. I feel lucky and renewed, and have fresh motivation to pursue my passions.
What do you believe is your single strongest skill that’s helped you succeed?
The constant willingness to learn. I don’t think you ever arrive at a point and stop learning. I believe when you think you don’t have anything left to learn, you’ve hit a dead end. Stay humble; don’t stand in the way of your own progress.
Tell us about your life outside of your business? What do you like to do?
I enjoy spending time with my family and watching my children pursue their passions! I love staying fit, exploring the lakes and beauty of MN, traveling, and reading. I also love to see friends as often as possible and support local Twin Cities artists!
How do you balance your career and family/personal life?
I try to be discerning about the projects I accept or pursue. Will it be too tough on my family? Is it too difficult to be involved? I don’t commit to things unless I am unwavering about my ability to follow through, and that means a lot of consideration upfront. Ultimately, my loyalty is to the people I love, so I won’t take on a project unless I know it balances with our busy lives.
QUICK FUN FACTS
What’s your favorite charity?
I love World Vision and have sponsored a child from the Dominican Republic for about five years now. www.worldvision.org
What age do you want to retire at?
Sort of never?! I can only hope there will still be roles for “old ladies” when I am older. I love my job, so I plan to continue for as long as possible.
One travel location on your bucket list?
Portugal! My mom is 100% Portuguese, and I have always wanted to travel there and take in the beauty!
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Extrovert, most definitely
What is your favorite blog, podcast, or book?
I just read a book by a woman named Rachel Hollis called, “Girl, Wash Your Face.” I loved it. It’s empowering to read about successful female entrepreneurs’ lives.
What’s a favorite/can’t live without business resource or tool?
I suppose I can’t live without my iPhone, since I’m constantly using it for communication, on the go info for castings, locations, email access, scripts, etc. I love Google drive for all my professional materials; I can easily pluck headshots/resumes and email them to casting directors, etc.
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