HIS POVERTY RATE IS DOWN BUT HIS INSECURITIES ARE UP, AND GREGORY BENJAMIN TELLS WHY.
Poor self-image is the result of a social media savvy generation. Gregory Benjamin is attacking his insecurities with his public image head on in the new animated web series Freak City. Gregory is a professional stand up comedian and animation producer. After investing long hours with a publishing company with no return on his investment, and experiencing both professional and personal failures while working with celebrity eye-wear designers he’s here to finally talk about it. Gregory rediscovered himself on stage with a masterful stand up comedy performance, and regained strength from raising his two-year old daughter Greatness in his 11th floor hotel room. There he spoke with DJ BabyPink’s Editor-in-Chief Nnekia Briggs about overcoming his past failures, and anxiety with surviving the new web series.
Gregory it must be hard coming forward speaking about your problems with your self-image. What motivated you to do so?
I have been through life experiences where I have learned that self-acceptance and respect are the two most important factors when you want to be successful. Without those two key components you can easily start living life below your potential, and being around others that want to see you stay that way.
You opened up about personal and professional failures, what are those failures?
My personal failure deals with a divorce roughly ten years ago. I never wanted to be a twenty year old divorced man, but it wasn’t a healthy relationship, and I was constantly being mistreated. Quite frankly, she didn’t deserve to be with me, and that whole relationship was a product of my poor self-image at the time. I had to go against my morals. It was less about the person, and more to do with me keeping my word. She wanted a divorce after committing adultery, and I moved forward. Fast forward ten years later, and I met someone beautiful and am blessed with life more abundantly with a gorgeous baby girl.
My professional failure dealt with working with my sister on her children’s book publishing company, for four years day and night with no contract. She said we were 50/50, but didn’t keep her word. I was the animation producer and wrote several books. I was never paid, and never got anything from it. My biggest plight was that so many people I worked with and managed didn’t get paid, didn’t get any credit, these twin eye wear designers didn’t get their book. I felt taken, and lied to and so many others did too, and I was held responsible. And for the record it was never about the money, it was the principle. I loved my sister more than life, and she didn’t want to see me reach my full potential and that is what hurt the most.
Do you have plans of doing any stand up performances in the future?
Yes I do have plans to do stand up performances in the future. Comedy for me has always been something I was gifted with, and I want to make sure I continue to use that gift to provide healing for myself and others. I take comedy seriously, which is an oxymoron in itself.
What has your career been like in animation producing?
My career in animation production has been great. I have had the opportunity to work with great music producers, illustrators, fashion designers, even dance choreographers. Really talented people that have helped me become the person I am today. I thank all of them and their patience when working with me creatively, it can be a learning experience, because I’m strictly by the book.
Freak Cityis a new animated series you’re producing. What is Freak City about?
It’s about a super-hero stripper and some gangsta shit. She strips by night, and fights crime by day and saves the world one lap dance at a time.
Who do you expect to reach with this animated series?
This is a show for all the beautiful ladies. That’s where my anxiety starts with this project. I hope this is something they can appreciate and enjoy, and all that good jazz.
I’ve researched that you have experienced homelessness, what do you think caused that unfortunate experience?
It’s like when I went to school back in eighth grade, and all the boys were trying to grow braids. For the first two or three months, you saw their hair nappy as hell, and they didn’t have hang time. After that I saw each guy’s braids with fancy zigzag designs looking like Bow Wow. The homelessness was a part of the gravity of my success. When you want to do something in life and you’re chasing your dreams, you don’t always know how to do it so its going to be a little nappy at first; but after you learn you come out and your money gets long like Bow Wow’s braids.
You stated that your daughter Greatness has helped you gain strength. How has being a father to Greatness given you strength?
I was seven years old when I named my daughter Greatness. I told my sister how funny I thought it would be when she was older how her friends would say “Mom, I want to go Greatness’s house, or I want to be Greatness’s friend!” I found that to be hilarious, my sister and I laughed about it, twenty years later it came true. Which just goes to show you that Kanye West was right when he said,
What do you want the readers to learn from your experiences?
To be honest I wasn’t experiencing life for anyone else, I hate to sound so blunt, but its a sick foot race, ya know. I’m trying to do an interview right now with a parade going on outside. That automatically shows you how life can be inconsiderate sometimes. The only person I think should learn from my experiences is me, that’s what I think the basis of the answer is to this question. I want to learn from my experiences and not repeat myself, and move forward.
How can the readers benefit from your life’s experience thus far?
If you want to be smart you can look at another person’s experiences, and not repeat their mistakes...but you gotta experience something for yourself to really benefit from it. You can’t say oh well Gregory learned it. You can’t say oh well Gregory did this and I have a full understanding of what that is... NOPE! Don’t let the mistakes make or break you. You’re not your mistakes. You’re just your next best choice.