Benson Simmonds is an award-winning actor, award-nominated writer/filmmaker and a celebrated acting teacher and coach. He is also an abstract painter and his artwork hangs in collections around the world.

Benson, originally from Canada, first appeared on television at age 7. Recalls Simmonds, "I was a short, cute and chubby 7 year old singing "If I were a Rich Man' from Fiddler on
the day I'd love to track down a copy of that variety show."

Benson continued acting to local acclaim throughout high school but still managed to be awarded the gold medal for scholastic achievement at his private school. He was class valedictorian and won a scholarship to college. Benson completed a 4 year honors degree in economics, winning another scholarship and maintained a 3.9 GPA while performing in various stage productions. New York beckoned and upon graduation from college, Benson left for New York, armed with his "bar mitsvah money" and the will to succeed. "It was tough to leave because my father wanted me to be prime minister of Canada and my mother...well for some reason she wanted me to be a dentist!"

Benson was one of the top students at the Sonia Moore Stanislavski School but was fascinated by the Meisner technique and was accepted to the two year Meisner program withKathryn Gately. Confides Benson, "I was so scared at the same time. I remember my second acting class Kathryn took me aside and told me "you were born to be an actor and now I'm going to make your life hell for the next two years'. Well, she made good on her promise. Benson excelled in class and developed a resilience and determination that would serve him on set till today.

While studying Meisner, Benson was fortunate to play leads in many NYU student films and several independent films. He then landed his first big Off-Broadway a squirrel, yes you read correctly, he was a squirrel in an adaptation of C.S.Lewis' Narnia. "I was so excited when I found out my picture was going to be on the cover of the Arts and Leisure section. I thought this would be my first coup. How could my mother expect me to be a dentist when my picture was going to be in the New York Times? But it turns out that they used a picture of me in full squirrel costume and make up so I was unrecognizable. The next week I received an application to dental school from my mother!?"

While rehearsing for the lead in an OFF-OFF Broadway play, Benson was wooed by an agent in Toronto, Canada and chose to return to Canada. He immediately began booking lead roles in theater and spots on TV shows as well as appear a string of national commercials. "Those were crazy times. I remember I was performing in one play while rehearsing during the day for a second play and at the same time I was preparing for a lead role in an independent film. My New York Meisner training kept me fresh and I was lucky to be well-received for my shows/films." At this time Benson began attracting students to whom he taught the Meisner acting technique.

But Benson still desperately missed New York City and returned to New York even though he would have to take a full-time job as a copy editor at a publishing house to finance the transition. After a year of paying his dues as a professional copy editor, Benson finally had time to start auditioning and soon booked more leading roles in theater and indie films..oh and a national commercial playing opposite boxing great George Foreman. "I remember extending my hand to Mr. Foreman and he withdrew it quickly. Instead he made a fist and lightly punched me on the shoulder. Apparently he has a "thing" about shaking hands. I thought it was so cool to be punched by George Forman. Needless to say I didn't punch him back."

Soon Benson was being wooed by yet another Canadian agent, this time from Vancouver  and Benson returned to Canada once again to begin working in film, TV and theater. It was in Vancouver that he first met and began studying with world renowned acting teacher Ivana Chubbuck, "I remember after auditing Ivana's class I was so excited that I didn't sleep for two days straight, not till I knew I was accepted into her class".  This would be the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship between Ivana and Benson. Not only did Benson become one of Ivana's top students but he began teaching her technique in other parts of Canada. I believed in this technique and the way it could empower actors and make their work so honest. I had to share it with others so I began teaching throughout Canada." While studying in Ivana's class Benson jokingly quppied to one of his fellow students, "if I don't book some work soon, I'm going to mug someone and make them listen to me act". The proverbial light bulb went off and Benson thought the idea would make a great short film. He workshopped the the film in Ivana's class, wrote the script and began shooting 6 months later. "I wasn't going to wait years to get the money and I was determined to shoot on 35 mm film and have a great director, DP and crew. So I went to my synagogue and asked if I could make the film as a fundraiser for them so I could give people tax receipts for their film donations and that's how I raised the money to shoot the film. Ten percent of all film donations went to the synagogue's charity fund. And yes, the week before we shot the film, I had received another dental school application in the mail from my mother."

Benson's shortt film entitled Applaud or Die drew raves at film festivals and he won the coveted LEO AWARD (Western Canada's version of the Oscars) for best actor in a short drama. He also was nominated for best writer and best short film. His mother conceded that perhaps he could put off applying to dental school for a while. "But she never quite understood the concept of a short film. When I told her I won for best actor in a short film, she said, (the truth), 'you won an award for being short?"

This was followed by more TV film and theater work, another critically acclaimed short film called Blue Cat on the Wall, which Benson wrote, starred in and this time directed, and kudos and acclaim for playing James Joyce in a stage play he co-wrote entitled Nora and James. At this time Benson had become a celebrated teacher of the Ivana Chubbuck acting technique, teaching sold out workshops in every major city in Canada. Benson had also been painting abstract canvasses as a hobby and soon began selling his artwork and selling his work in at various prestigious  art galleries in Canada. When his mother contracted ovarian cancer, Benson moved back home to be with his family for the last few months before her imminent passing. "At this point she finally admitted that she had always known that I was going to be a hugely successful actor, but wanted me to have something to fall back on, hence the push to be a dentist,. She told me to get used to seeing my face in the big screen because she knew in her heart that I had the talent to make it big in Hollywood. That same day or thereafter my dad, who had had Alzheimer's for years and went in and out of coherency suddenly turned to me and said, "Bens, you need to go to Los Angeles to make your fortune as an actor". It was so out of the blue, that it really impacted me". Benson's mother passed away and his father though physically healthy passed away just 4 months later. "He wasn't sick, he just missed my  mother. They were always inseparable."

Benson decided to take his late father's advice and moved to LA. Within his first 3 months in LA, Benson shot and booked a pilot, began teaching and shooting his third short film, which he is currently editing. He continues to book work both here and in Canada . He's has also at work on writing 3 feature film scripts.  Benson quips, "I decided to sign a 3 picture deal,,, with myself!" Benson continues to teach and coach in LA and has just completed his "Master the Audition" DVD for purchase.

He also had two highly successful solo art  shows at Culver city art galleries, his latest in Feb., 2010 and is also currently at work completing a short spiritual handbook which he plans to release in the next few months.



"Where to start in describing the most inspiring teacher and actor I've met to date? I met Benson Simmonds in the spring of 2005 for private coaching and a scene study workshop. I was floored by his acute sense of insight and instinct in regarding the Ivana Chubbuck  technique that is so profoundly present in his style."


Dawn Ford, actor, Montreal

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