For today’s blog, alumnus Sam Benjamin tells us what life is like as a professional in the arts and shares his recent success coming soon to a London film festival.
Graduating in 2007 with a BA in History from Reading (going by my birth name Benjamin Cook!), I am now a professional actor, playwright and screenwriter. I’ve starred in John Bishop’s Little Cracker on Sky One, Old Jack’s Boat on BBC one alongside Doctors Who’s Bernard Cribbins and Freema Aygeman, and on September 20th I am excited to share that a movie I wrote and star in alongside Kyla Frye (Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow), the British crime caper movie Double Cross, will be screened with the British Urban Film Festival on Sept 20th at Genesis Cinema, London.
Not the most obvious outcome you might think for someone who left the University with a history degree. But in truth, the education and my experience at Reading helped me discover who I am, where my passions lie, and gave me the tools, the skills, and the vision that has helped me get into showbusiness.
Truth be told, my childhood dream was to be a Hollywood actor…but coming from a modest Merseyside background, a lad who showed promise in academia was always going to be encouraged to get a ‘proper job’. I went to Reading after a grammar school education filled with traditional subjects, and history was my favourite. After all, without history, there would BE no other subjects. However I knew that when I got my place at Reading, that their Film, Theatre & TV Department was lively, and I knew that I had a secret mission to test the waters outside of my main study.
Dogged in my determination to maintain my theatrical adventures, I was the first ever history undergrad who entered their third year with theatre modules still forming part of their degree. Analytical, research, and literary skills were honed and discovered by both subjects as I starred in many plays on Bulmershe campus – and was encouraged by amazing people like Steven Atkinson (now artistic director of High Tide Theatre, an undergrad at the time), Becky Hillman, John Bull, Graham Saunders, Lib Taylor and everyone at the FT&T Dept.
Following Reading, I got a job in a bank, saved up money whilst auditioning, got a place at Drama Studio London (who boast Forest Whitaker and Emily Watson as their alumni), and for the last six years I’ve been having a ball in the entertainment industry. Without my time at Reading, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today.
If you fancy a night of the best in British short films and want to see a stylish crime caper movie (think Mission:Impossible, Mr & Mrs Smith), book your tickets for Double Cross at Genesis Cinema here: https://www.genesiscinema.co.uk/films/events/buff-2015-sunday-night-shorts-sun-20th-sept/.
You can keep up to date with my movie @doublecrossfilm on twitter, and feel free to connect with me through @sambenjaminnow – aways great to hear from fellow grads! And keep an eye out for an appearance in E4’s Fresh Meat later this year…