Jack Benson - Pennsylvania Interview by Claire Plath Nomination by Carol Benson Photography by Jessica Briggs Photography Issue 30 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Jack Benson has drive and passion for the stage and screen. With a tough transition to high school, it became a home when he auditioned and made the fall play, chamber and men's choirs, the first weeks of school. He spent the next 2 years welcoming underclassmen and now, as a senior, is co-president of the school drama club and choir. He has enjoyed all the opportunities he’s had, including performing at the White House and Carnegie Hall, being a Bucks Co Playhouse Youth Company member, and his first screen job in a teaser ad for Facebook’s Superbowl commercial with Chris Rock.
Photography by Jessica Briggs Photography
What do you enjoy most about performing and what has been your most memorable experience? Performing lets me give back to the community by telling stories that people, no matter your background, can draw something from. My most memorable experience was a rehearsal my sophomore year. We had been struggling for weeks, but that day, something clicked and we connected; in that moment we all knew we had it – no words were needed, we were a group of people, but one voice.
Tell me about the opportunities you have received including performing at the White House and Carnegie Hall. I was truly honored. Being a high school student walking in the same halls and rooms of one of the most important buildings in the US, where so many important people have entered was humbling. Performing at Carnegie Hall was one of the greatest experiences of my career because it is one of the biggest stages, not size-wise, but because it is a place most musicians strive to not only enter but to perform.
Photography by Jessica Briggs Photography
What effect does performing have on you, and how have you also built connections with your friends in high school that have turned into your second family? Music isn’t just the sound you hear, it’s also the feeling it gives you. When I sing with my choir or drama club, I feel a deep connection with all of them. I have been fortunate enough to find a group of people that I can take that feeling off the stage with, and enjoy our time outside of shows as well.
Can you tell me more about your role as co-president of the school drama club and choir and what it also means to you? Being a leader of these clubs means so much to me because they have been such an important part of my high school life, knowing that my teachers entrusted me with the responsibilities of running the clubs and being a liaison between staff and students is extremely gratifying.
How did the upperclassmen when you first got to high school take you under their wing, and how have you also done the same to present day underclassmen at your school? They didn’t just stay in their existing friend group; they made an effort to talk to, and get to know me. I have tried to do the same with underclassmen by getting to know them personally so they come to me not just as someone who is older, but as an equal as well.
As an inspiration, how have you continued to include and welcome underclassmen while also representing a perfect example of what anyone can achieve through hard work and dedication? I am a fun guy but I when it comes to performances and rehearsals, I want underclassmen to be able to have fun but understand what we are doing is important and needs to be taken seriously, so striking a balance is something I work very hard at.
Photography by Mike Maney
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever accomplished, and how did you do it? Climbing Mt Baldy at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It is a 12,441-foot mountain of broken rock. Along with 8 of my fellow scouts and 3 adult leaders, I hiked 100 miles over 10 days at the ranch. Day 4 is when we reached Mt. Baldy – on my 14th birthday – and it took us about 2 hours to get to the top. When we reached the top we had the greatest feeling of accomplishment because it is one of the toughest challenges offered in the various routes you can do at the ranch. But what made it really hard is we had to summit and get back down to camp before an incoming storm hit.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? I would remind them to tell themselves that they are enough. Even when you are going through tough times, whatever it may be, there is always a brighter side. By working hard, you will get the reward you deserve.
Photography by Carol Benson
Who do you find inspiring? Paul Walker. When I was in 5th or 6th grade and I was walking through my living room one weekend afternoon and saw my dad watching Fast and Furious 5. The feeling I had watching him in the scene was indescribable; I remember being so entertained and wanting to be able to entertain others the same way. After that moment, I decided to get involved in theater and I have realized my passion for it not only calls me to create something to entertain others, but more importantly to inspire others to pursue the arts, break out of their shell and find their true selves the way theater has done for me. So now when I think about where I am and what I did to get here, I remember how I felt watching him in that movie, so I attribute my inspiration to him.
Jack will be featured in Issue 30 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!