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Joseph Benjamin: Flip side of a talented actor

By Shaibu Husseini
18 September 2021   |   4:14 am
I left Nigeria about four years ago, in 2016 to be precise, and moved to the United States; I have been living here ever since.
Joseph Benjamin

Image credit: De 9ja music entertainment

The last time you read about the debonair actor, voice-over artist, model and show host, Joseph Benjamin here was when he featured on Oprah Winfrey Network TV Series titled Greenleaf. Produced by Lionsgate Television and Oprah Winfrey Network TV, the drama series aired on Netflix and this afforded members of his huge fan base in Nigeria the opportunity to see their beloved actor show stuff on the prime series.

Best known for co-hosting the talent reality show MTN’s Project Fame for so many seasons, the dapper Kogi born entertainer shot to the limelight after he played the lead in Mahmood Ali-Balogun’s critically acclaimed celluloid film Tango With Me. He rode on the back of the film and other critically acclaimed movies such as Mr. and Mrs and Murder at Prime Suites to grab more roles in Nollywood.

Although he now resides in the USA, Joseph still finds time to star in some across the border productions. The Married but Living Single star, who also won the best lead actor at the 2012 Best of Nollywood Awards, was home recently to work on a movie project and to drop a single from a full album he revealed he is presently working on. Moviedom caught up with the recipient of the 2012 African Actor of the Year award, which came through African Film Awards. He speaks about his career and his next project.

Why I Moved To The United States
I left Nigeria about four years ago, in 2016 to be precise, and moved to the United States; I have been living here ever since. And it is not for greener acting pastures like assumed; I wanted growth and to understand the different dimensions of my craft on a more dynamic scale. Sometimes, you have to step away from the familiar to understand the depth of who you are.

My First Big Fruit In The US And The Structured System
My character name on the TV show Greenleaf was Joseph Obi, not Joseph Benjamin. I know it is almost natural for people to think the former seeing my first name is Joseph; I had to go through the process of auditioning for the role. Working on the set was not different from working in Nigeria. It is the same process regarding technicalities; the only major difference is that they have as more structured system and this allows for you to be more effective.

Over here, Actors have the option to self-tape auditions. This is new to me, seeing I am used to in-person auditions. Also, I was used to getting roles by the director or producers for projects I worked on through the span of my career in Nigeria; I did not have to go through the process of auditioning. I found it quite interesting and resourceful, because it made me see the different dynamics to how things are done. It has also helped in my growth process.

Done A Couple Of Across Border Productions
I have featured in quite a few across the border productions by Nigerian Independent Filmmakers. To be honest, dynamics are the same; the environment of course gives better production value. Also, there are no limits to what you can imagine in your mind as a writer. If there is a budget to achieve it, you can get it done. Their work ethics here largely differ in comparison to what is prevalent in Nigeria, which I believe, if we can imbibe that approach to our pattern in Nigeria, will increase our level of productivity.

Guild And Association System In The U.S. 
Talking about how guilds and associations run, I would say we really need to change our work ethics; we need to be collaborative in our minds and not be self-absorbed. Majority of our problems have a lot to do with self, especially in the film and television Industry.

We should all work with the mindset to build for all of us not one-man seeking vein glory, or the guild being paraded as an organisation without a structure. The Guilds here are highly revered, because they create a firm balance in the system. There are labour laws and work codes that cannot be broken. As a creative, you are assured that your rights are protected.

Pains And Gains Of Being An Entertainer
To be honest, I would say the good far outweighs the bad. Challenges are relative; you are bound to face challenges in whatever industry you choose to be in. For me, I would say, what do you see them as? As challenges or opportunities to discover your strengths and weaknesses and grow through them?

What I Miss About Naija
The only thing I know I miss from a personal point of view is the ability to park on the roadside and buy quick snacks from the vendors on the road (Boli, Corn, Gala and the likes lol). Apart from that, I don’t really miss anything. I am with my family, which would have been the only thing I would have had a struggle with. I have never been a pervasive person in the entertainment industry.

To be honest, keeping a very social life is expensive. As for likes and dislikes, I like being able to express whom I am; I thrive in such environments. I dislike disingenuous people; I believe you live your best life when you are genuine. When I am not filming, I am learning to increase my capacity. I like to rest, all right, but that is after my mind has taken as much as it has the capacity to.

Watch Out For My Full Gospel Album
Yes, I recently dropped a single and I am working on releasing an EP sometime next year.

My Healthy Routine
I eat healthy and work out regularly; I jog for a minimum of 5 miles 3-4 times every week. I drink a lot of water. I do a lot of protein. I also avoid taking too many carbs, which are very present in things like bread and rice. Having grown up in Nigeria, you know these foods are the most widely consumed.

Career Ambition
To be better than I was yesterday; to be a source of inspiration to the one who has dared to dream.