Brad Benedict can be seen starring as one of the leads in one of TLC’s first-ever scripted series, Tyler Perry’s “Too Close To Home”. The show returns January 4th at 10/9C. Brad is also an avid tennis athlete and seen hosting a weekly series with Tennis Channel’s called “Fit To Hit”.
Check out our interview with Brad!
upfrontNY: How did you get your start in acting?
Brad Benedict: I think it was always kind of a dream and more of a fantasy to be an actor as a kid. I grew up in the suburbs of Georgia so you never think that it’s possible to be on TV or in the movies. I’m the youngest of 4 and I grew up loving to be the center of attention, to make people laugh, and to entertain them. I found whatever way I could to do that.
My First actual experience acting was my junior year of high school. I did the musical Bye Bye Birdie. I was more of an athlete and on a whim I said I’m going to give this a shot, my sister had done high school theatre. I went in there and booked the lead role. That was when I first got my feet wet.
I then focused back on my tennis and played college tennis and studied finance and then I went to California and gave it a shot. That’s when I really started studying acting and got to Hollywood and slowly made my way in. It has been such a blessing, a fun experience.
upfrontNY: What do you love most about it?
Brad Benedict: What I love about acting, it differs whether I’m on camera or if I was doing theatre. I think it is such an incredibly fun office space and I feel like it keeps me young and keeps me curious, and keeps me interacting with all different sorts of people.
Right now what I found that I love the most about being on a TV set is the collaborative effort of creating something. I really love seeing the final product. There are some actors out there who hate to watch what they do, but that is what I get so excited for because there are so many moving pieces and people putting in work that you don’t really know what you’re creating. I get excited to watch and be entertained and hopefully entertain others in the process.
upfrontNY: What has the transition to California been like?
Brad Benedict: When I moved out to California I didn’t know anybody it was kind of that whole cliché of moved out there with a suitcase and nothing else. That’s pretty much how it worked for me. I had a lot of lonely times and downs but obviously you’re going to get a lot of nos and just trying to break in and get a shot is really challenging. I still feel like I was still excited during the whole process and that’s what kept me going. I never lost sight of the dream but it took a few years I think until it kind of settled in.
A big part of my career success was when I met people that I could trust like family. You make friends, but until you can find friends that you can love and trust with your life, I felt like my head was never right. It helped me be more confident and believe in myself with that support team. That was the hardest part. I have been pretty fortunate to find a way to success in most of the things I have tried to do in life in one way or another. It was challenging to start at the bottom of the totem pole and fight to show people that I deserved a shot. It was hard but something that I would never take back. It made me stronger and I encourage everyone to take a big risk no matter where you end up. If you end up going home or back to that comfort zone, being in a world where you have no safety net is probably the best way to expedite growth and see what you are made of.
upfrontNY: What has life been like since being a part of “Too Close To Home”?
Brad Benedict: In a lot of senses you think everything is going to be different and things change but you are still the same old human being and you still have challenges. It has been really rewarding in the sense that I feel a huge sense of achievement. I feel like everything I’ve been doing for the past 9 years was all worth it. I feel that I can truly speak to the words I said about trying to inspire others. When you finally find a little bit of success you say you know what, a lot of things seem impossible until you do it. I think with me it has helped me to remind myself that all of these goals I have in life are still achievable. They seem like they are virtually impossible you just have to take 1 step. Last night I watched with my brother and father the movie Creed. I loved Sylvester’s performance in that it really touched me and so I wanted to share that with them. There is a quote… One Step, One Punch, One Round. I think that is a great motto.
upfrontNY: For those who haven’t seen the show can you tell us about your character JB?
Brad Benedict: JB is a bad boy of the show. They call me the troublemaker. It has been fun for me because a lot of times I’m playing a nice guy, the guy next door, an all American. It definitely has been fun to explore the darker side of things. It is tough because you like to be the hero and certainly JB is yet to show any signs of being a hero. He is super flawed and that has been cool because the thing I know about people is that we are all flawed and all have some work to do. I really love the word forgiveness. I am hoping that JB’s character can find a way to work toward forgiveness. JB had years of poverty that has forced him into criminal enterprise which he has proven to be ill suited for. He started running drugs to try and make some extra money to try and help out his family and his friends and the town of happy Alabama. He ran into some of the big bosses that he didn’t expect. Guns came a blazing that was something he never experienced. JB’s reckless behavior threatens to rip apart everything and everyone that he cares about. I am excited to see where the story lines go.
I think the first 8 episodes I was as Brad trying to find a way for the audience to like the guy. Tyler Perry was talking about another actress on the show and she was playing more of an antagonist on the show not such a nice person. He told me a story of how she said, “You know what, if I’m going to be bad, I am going to be as bad as I can be and have fun with it.” It is a new experience and I am not used to fans out there reaching out when they are hating on JB. At first you take it a little bit personally, but then you realize, I’m doing a good job. That was my goal this season to let down any ego that I might have and to have fun being the bad guy.
upfrontNY: When watching the show, there is a lot of intensity wondering what is going to happen next. Do you feel a lot of intensity on set?
Brad Benedict: Absolutely, you hope you do. The more you’re feeling it the more the audience is going to feel it especially when the cameras are rolling and we are in a scene there has been some pretty intense moments and that’s when it gets fun. When they yell cut the rush for me comes after we finish. The intensity is there but there’s also a lot of laughs and Tyler is great at directing traffic and keeping people focused and working on hard, but he will cut a joke here and there. Several of my scenes when I come out of it he will give me a look, put out his fist and give me a fist bump. At the end of the final wrap he gives you a big ole hug and says I am so proud of you. It really makes you feel good you are wanting to give him your best and he certainly gives his best.
upfrontNY: What has it been like working with Tyler Perry? Were you a fan of his work before the show?
Brad Benedict: I had familiarity of Tyler’s work through auditioning for The Haves and The Have Nots pilot. Before my audition I hadn’t seen any of his other TV shows on his other networks and I had only seen pieces of the Madea films. For me as far as his work went I wasn’t super familiar with it, but I had read a lot about him. For me it was more about his work ethic and his generosity and his grace that he carries himself with. I didn’t know too much of his work and I started watching it and found the Madea movies hysterical. I couldn’t stop laughing. I was absolutely over the moon without even really knowing what it was going to be like working with him or what the material was like because I knew the human he was and that it would be a priceless experience getting to learn from him. I think one of the coolest things Is that he continues to give crew and cast and a lot of his employees their first real shot at being a professional in the entertainment business and I think that’s cool. That is kind of the catch 22. How do you get a role without having a role as an actor especially I had done some things before but never had a series. I never thought someone would let me do it. He said he watched every audition tape and was looking for the truth and if he felt like every moment was truthful and if he felt the spirit of the actor was genuine, then he was willing to give him a shot and opportunity.
upfrontNY: I saw that you also play guitar and write songs. Would you like to play a musician?
Brad Benedict: If you ask me my dream role, that would probably be to be a singer / song writer/country musician. I am hopeful that will happen in the future. I am a hobbyist musician, but it is something I have always loved and it is my biggest fear as well playing in front of people. I have had to play a few times at auditions and that has been the only time people have heard me do it outside of my apartment. If someone comes along and offers me an opportunity I will embrace it. What excites me is when you get a role it is an excuse to live as that person for a while I think it would be fun to work a couple months and literally just dive head first and not think about anything but the music.