Welcome to Part Two of my interview with Canadian-Haitian actor Benz Antoine. Antoine is an actor who’s juggled three different industries, the Canadian market, the film market in the USA, and has even starred in a Haitian movie or two. The award-nominated actor his represented in Canada by the prestigious agency Oscars Abrams Zimel and divides his time between Montreal and Los Angeles.
In the first part of our interview, he discussed his upbringing in Montreal. This time around, we go more in-depth in regards to his career, as well as his college years. CLICK HERE if you missed Part One, and read on if you’ve already read Part 1.
Kreyolicious: You attended Concordia University. Do you think going to college prepared you for real life?
I went to University and did ultimately land in the Theatre program at Concordia. I found the training I received to be very useful in many regards. It gave me the confidence
to be a true artist. The thing about acting though is that you are always learning and constantly changing. So to me, the best place to hone your craft is on the battlefield—if you are lucky enough to get there repeatedly as I have. Angela Basset has a Master’s degree in Fine Arts. Halle Berry does not. But who has the Oscar? My point is there is no right or wrong way to do this. Education is essential, but experience is equally as important.
Kreyolicious: How do you usually prepare for your roles?
My preparation is an on going process. I don’t overload myself with information that may or may not be useful. I try to pick things up everyday from anyone and anything. Every time I meet someone its an opportunity to learn something—to inject life into a new character. It could be a mannerism, an accent, a speech pattern, the way he wears his hat…if I like it, I’m stealing it, and adapting to the character of my choice. As an actor, you have to constantly ask questions but to me it makes no sense cramming all the info two-to-three weeks before shooting. To me, it’s a way of life.
Above: As Tyler Joseph in the Bravo Canada hit show “19-2”. [Photo Credit: Bravo Canada]
Kreyolicious: You were raised by a single-mom. Do you think she’s proud of whom her son has become?
She better be because ultimately that is what we all strive for; approval from our parents. I am only a few years away from retirement. I am set to retire in 2019, and after that, I will try to make her proud in all the other aspects of my life that I have been neglecting while chasing this Denzel guy. [Laughter]
Kreyolicious: If you could speak to an up-and-coming actor who has just won a small role from a first audition…what would you say to him about the road ahead?
Haha. Wow! I would tell him or her that if they are looking for a fast track to success, fame, fortune or anything like that; they have come to the wrong place. Although it is true that certain entertainers do make a healthy living, the amount of work, luck and patience involved is in mind-boggling. I have been chasing Denzel for 22 years, and it doesn’t appear that I’m any closer to my goal. A friend of mine once asked me why is it that people who need to be loved the most, enter into a business with the highest rate of rejection. And if they were still interested in pursuing a acting career, I would tell them to never let anyone tell them what they can and cannot do. Not even me.
Above: In a still from the film Another Silence.
Kreyolicious: What’s the difference between being an actor on a TV series, and an actor on a film?
I prefer being an actor who is working. If you make a list of how many traditional movie stars who are doing TV it would hard to deny that things have changed…Halle Berry, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Matthew McConaughey—to name a few. My overall approach doesn’t change whether I’m doing a TV show or a movie. However, I will concede that not every actor has what it takes to rule the big screen. There is an extra charm, a unique delivery, a certain je ne sais quoi that is required to become a movie star so I am on the lookout for the right opportunity to showcase what I’ve been practicing for over twenty years.
Above: Benz in a scene from the Sony Pictures film Ice Soldiers with fellow Canadians Camille Sullivan and Michael Ironside. Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Intl
Kreyolicious: What’s next for you?
Writing. Producing. Directing! I love it ALL! I am actually making my directorial debut on a project that is very close to my heart called Dear Mr. President. It touches on the issue of police brutality that is constantly dominating the headlines in America.It’s time for each and everyone of us to step up and do our part if we really want to make a change.
[Main Photo Credit: Patrick Lamarche]