February 2008

Paul Benjamin

Actor

Paul Benjamin is the youngest of twelve children born to Rev. Fair and Rosa Benjamin of Pelion, SC. His father was a Baptist preacher and farmer. He was barely a toddler when his mother died, leaving him with no memory of her being. Upon the passing of his father, still a child, he was brought to Columbia, SC to live with his older brother, David, his wife, Lizzie Mae and their family.

By the time he graduated from C.A. Johnson High, he already knew with a passion that he ultimately wanted to become an actor. This dream would remain his secret for some years for fear that some might laugh at him if he spoke seriously to such a passionate dream at that time.

Eventually, after attending Benedict College for a year, he moved to New York City where he studied acting at HB Studio and made his professional stage debut at the NY Shakespeare Festival Public Theater.

Benjamin is most proud to have worked with some of the most talented artists in his profession. For his first co-starring role in the film, “Across 110th Street,” Anthony Quinn is quoted in the Hollywood Reporter to say that “he considers him to be the most talented actor since Brando.” Other noted films include, “Do the Right Thing,” by Spike Lee; “Hoodlum,” by Bill Duke with Lawrence Fishburne; “Leadbelly,” by Gordon Parks with Roger Mosley; “Escape from Alcatraz,” with Clint Eastwood; “Rosewood,” by John Singleton with Esther Rolle, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle and Jon Voight; and “Gideons Trumpet,” with Henry Fonda.

Noted television productions include, “The Atlanta Child Murders,” with Morgan Freeman, Ruby Dee and James Earl Jones; “I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings,” Maya Angelou’s autobiography with Dihann Carroll; “The Education of Sonny Carson,” with Mary Alice & Rony Clanton; “The Invisible Man,” a PBS Special; “ER;” “Law & Order;” and “In the Heat of the Night” for which the latter two an Emmy nomination was mentioned.

With acknowledgement to his writing, Mayor Tom Bradley presented him with a Commendation from the City of Los Angeles for his play, “Carrier,” for which Paula Kelly won the 1982 NAACP Image Awards for Best Actress. She, along with Mr. Benjamin and the great actor/poet Roscoe Lee Browne, received Certificates of Recognition from Sen. Diane Watson for performances in the same play.

Today, Paul Benjamin continues to act and write with a passion.