We had the good fortune of connecting with Benji Kaufman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Benji, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I have always been a creative individual. From a young age I would love to create different silly characters using all sorts of clothing items and accessories at my disposal. I was obsessed with making people laugh and making people smile. There is a special feeling I get when I create an idea that could bring joy to other people, almost like a high. The pursuit of this feeling led me to an artistic career. Not many people can say they are still pursuing a passion they had at age 5, and I hope to still be pursuing it at age 95.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I like to think I specialize in character driven comedy, especially slapstick and lovable oaf comedy. That’s why I think I shine in a setting where I can perform as a fool! This is my true specialty and what I hope to do for my life. I feel like every career decision I’ve made in my life has been with the intent to lead to a place where I can make the most people smile or laugh possible. I got to where I am today with hard work, determination, drive, and not giving up. This is one of the hardest careers to succeed in, and everyone knows that going into it. While I’m nowhere near my dream of success yet, I am still on the path to get there. I have put years of education and a great deal of financial investment into myself and my career to be the best that I can be. I have dealt with way more rejection than success, and while it hurts every time, I have realized that when one door shuts, it gives me the opportunity to open a new door. Of course none of these doors would open without getting access to them by talent reps and managers, and while I have a great team of people I’m working with now, I am always on the lookout for individuals as driven as I am, to join my team so we can help each other to reach an even higher level of success! What I really want people to know about me and about my story is that I pursue this because it’s my passion. I love performing with every fiber of my being. I’m not doing this for fame or for money, but for the ability to tell a story, to make someone smile, to make someone escape into a story and forget the troubles of the outside world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I want to approach this question as if my friend was visiting the area for the first time post-COVID lockdown, when life can resume again! First off, I’m a HUGE food person, so I definitely would make sure they get to over-eat. Obviously you have to go to some of the tourist places like Pink’s, Philippe’s, Langer’s Deli, or even Bob’s Big Boy (for nostalgia of course). Then I would make sure that they don’t leave until they’ve had Porto’s, some KBBQ in Koreatown, some clam chowder from Malibu Seafood, Hot Chicken from any of North Hollywood’s many popups, or tacos from one of many incredible taco trucks like Leo’s. As for things to do, I’m a huge Dodger fan so I would definitely take them to a game (or multiple) at the best ballpark in baseball. Other places I would love to take them are the Venice Boardwalk, Descanso Gardens, a quick visit to the Hollywood walk of fame, the Magic Castle, Old Pasadena, drive through the Hollywood Hills, catch a play at either the Ahmanson of Geffen, a comedy show at The Comedy Store or Flappers, and maybe even an improv comedy show at Groundlings or UCB! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many different people or moments that I could thank for specific successes in my career path so far, but I think the most instrumental are my parents and the educators who helped me grow. I owe a great deal to my parents. I am so grateful for how they supported my decision to pursue a career in acting, but it literally makes the journey so much easier. They enrolled me in theater classes as a child. They took me to rehearsals and performances. They allowed me to go to drama festivals. They took me to see plays and musicals to increase my passion and knowledge. Instead of making the decision for me between going to a performing arts school to pursue acting or going to a “normal” high school to play baseball, they let me decide. I’m sure it must have been very difficult for them when they had dreams of me going to medical school or law school, but they supported and affirmed my decision making. While sometimes I would hear, “But make sure you have a backup plan,” other times I would receive multiple casting breakdowns sent to me by my mother because she, “Saw a posting and thought I would be perfect for the role.” Without their constant support for my passion, I don’t know if I would have pursued it to the point I am today. As for my the different acting/drama teachers I had over the years, well nothing helps a young mind grow and become more confident than belief from your teachers. Having the support of educators, who had way more knowledge than me about this career path, gave me the confidence that I could succeed. In fact what I love about my middle school and high school drama teachers specifically is that they still support me today and attend my performances or watch my film/tv appearances!