Monday, October 19, 2009

3 Questions: Benu Mabhena's Global Movenment

Benu Mabhena made her big screen debut in Warner Bros.’ BLOOD DIAMOND. The African beauty spent months performing opposite Oscar-nominees Djimon Hounsou and Leonardo DiCaprio and Oscar-winner Jennifer Connolly. For the role of Jassie Vandy (Hounsou’s character’s wife), Benu had to embody the fear of a woman on the run with her children, terrified that someone would kill them or kidnap her son and force him to be a child soldier.

What virtually no one knew was that Benu brought a personal story to her moving character. When Benu was a child, a change in Zimbabwe’s political climate forced her family to flee and remain uprooted for years while staying where they could with family and allies in South Africa.

Though now residing in the states, Africa is still near and dear to Benu. She recently recorded “Wake Up- It’s Africa Calling” with Mopreme Shakur, brother of legendary Tupac Shakur, and world artist Youssou N Dour. The song is raising money for malaria treatment and education.

Benu paused for a moment to answer our 3 questions about international fame, publicity, and American film productions:

GP: As an American who was born in the UK and partially raised in South Africa, how does public perception of you change from country to country and how do you keep your message clear internationally?

: I was fairly young when I lived in Africa and when I was in the UK. I really wasn’t in the public eye until I was here in the US. I think people are really surprised when they hear me talk– I pretty much have an American accent, so they have this questionable, puzzled look on their faces. LOL. Most people back home and my family didn't have a clue of what I wanted to do with my life. If I wasn't becoming a doctor, Nurse, or anything in business, I was just out of my mind and I needed to get focused. My message is that you can follow your dreams and your dreams can eventually support you. That message is easy to keep clear no matter where I go.

: Did you find it difficult to share your personal story with the press while promoting BLOOD DIAMOND?

I did find it difficult... because my family and I have always been very private and I know that our life story is a very unusual one and who knows what telling it might bring. I wasn't quite ready to talk about it.

: What did red carpet events teach you about promoting yourself and your film?

: First of all, I think when you step on the red carpet you’re never as prepared as you think. If you think you’re prepared, prepare for the “unpreparable.” That’s not a word, but you get my point! When I got started in the business I was very shy and I couldn't talk to people. Now, I can and sometimes I feel like a different person when I'm in public. I’m able to talk to fans and network with professionals... it's kinda cool. I find that it's really an amazing tool that we have red carpet events to introduce projects to the media and make these projects (and ourselves) accessible for the public.

*Originally published in the July/August 2009 issue of 720 PR's GOINGPUBLIC [ Read ]

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