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Creatives are born, but it is the watering of that talent that helps an artist fully bloom. Actor and producer Benmio McCrea knows all about this.
Born and raised in Philly, the self-proclaimed “city kid” grew up in a home full of art. Both of his parents were visual artists, his mother a painter and sculptor, while his father made a living as a sign painter. McCrea studied film at NYU and theatre at Syracuse University. He’s acted and produced, appearing in roles such as “Bosch”, “Criminal Minds”, “This is Us”, and Fox’s “9-11”.
In an interview with The Black Wall Street Times, he reflected on the inspiration of creating art, and the power of mentorship.
“You don’t have to teach kids to be creative, but having people to develop that gift is great,” McCrea said. “Like anything, you have to work at it. Put in the hours, whether it’s dancing, training, [sports] athletes. It’s muscle memory to develop those talents.”
Benmio McCrea had a few pivotal moments as a young person that shaped the way he viewed art and inspired him to think outside the box. The first moment took place in an art class when he was in 6th grade, sculpting a polar bear that he still has in his Los Angeles home.
But it wasn’t until McCrea joined his local Big Brother program as a child, when a light bulb went off. His mentor took him to his first production play, “The Miser”, at the Walnut Street Theatre.
“I was 12 or 13, and it really opened my mind up to acting, and that’s what you need as a young person. Whether it be a parent, or teacher, or someone that is going to expose you to different things creatively.” McCrea states.
Black creatives often face hurdles in the industry that can be discouraging while pursuing their passion. According to Mr. Benmio McCrea, “exposure is the first thing. You want to be in an environment where you have exposure to the type of things you want to do, and it’s great to have mentors. “
Whatever creative outlet one may feel drawn to, there is a certain recipe and discipline that helps bring it all together. When asked about the process behind preparing for a role, McCrea states that “ultimately, it’s all about having tools in your toolbox. Take all of the different methods of study, and it comes together to create a toolbox for your own creative process. It’s like a recipe to make a cake. You know you need 2 eggs, some flour, milk and etc. But it’s how you put those things together that will dictate how the end looks.”
Similar to his early days in acting, McCrea shares that he hopes to get back into theatre one day. Re-visiting the classics like Shakespeares’ Othello. Taking him back to the first moment he found the passion for acting.
“I love working on passion projects, and it’s great to give back to things that have meaning behind it. My wife and I are in a Cologuard commercial about colon cancer to encourage people to take their health seriously. It’s important for Black people to look into prevention.”