‘LL: People have said that American Crime has been inspired by some of the civil unrest happening around the country. Do you think it’s intentionally tied to current events?
Benito: This isn’t just inspired by current events. It’s inspired by events five years and ten years ago. These are timeless stories about struggle, pain and hardship. What makes it timeless is that when families go through hardships, they find out who they really are. I tip my hat to the writers for starting the conversation.
‘LL: You’ve obviously got a great track record when it comes to picking projects. What do you look for when you choose a role?
Benito: I look for roles that challenge me or put me in a place where I’m working with talented people. I also look for diversity when I read a script. I hate roles that feel like cardboard cutouts. It has to be challenging to grab my attention.
‘LL: It’s hard to believe you’ve been working in film and TV for over 25 years. Do you have a proudest moment thus far?
Benito: Back in 1993, I did a movie called Mi Familia, with Edward James Olmos and Jimmy Smits. It was amazing to see those guys perform and to see how much respect they were getting from Latinos. I looked at them as artists, but then I began to see them as pillars of the community. Ever since then, I’ve been aware of how we can touch people’s lives in our industry. And American Crime has taken it to a whole new level. Now African-Americans and Asians are reaching out to me, telling me how we’re telling their story.
‘LL: Is there any advice you’d like to share for people who look to you as a role model?
Benito: For me, acting is a lifelong journey. I never set out to be a star. I love my craft and want to do this for the rest of my life. I still take classes, I still do theatre, I’m constantly learning. That’s what I believe; always keep working at your passion.
You can see some of Benito’s best work yet on the season finale of American Crime, airing this Thursday night on ABC.
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