A small group of motivated, native Chicago scholars who are attending colleges across the country huddled around their computers on Monday, Jan. 25, eager to hear actress and member of the legendary R&B group, En Vogue, Rhona Bennett, host a virtual Q-and-A session and offer advice on character development and business management for Stanley Coleman Jr. Productions LLC performing arts mentoring program.
“I started working very young in Chicago, so I did a lot of stuff around the city,” Bennett shared, after being asked about her background, “I would say my first big break when I was doing industrial films … and plays and then Oprah Winfrey was the one who gave me my first big break when she was doing ‘The Women of Brewster Place.’ ”
When Ciara Evans, a student at Morgan State University posed the question, “What advice may you give an aspiring actress who will one day want to be just like you?” Bennett answered, “Always be a student of your craft. Shoot for excellence, not perfection, because what is perfection? Especially when we’re talking about it in relation [to] creativity.”
During the 30-minute session, Bennett also advised the women to be consistent, research role models in their respective fields, learn the business aspect and key players of the entertainment industry.
“Building great relationships is key in this industry. So if you think you burned a bridge, go see if you [can] repair it. It’s good for character, too. And then, there’s something that we all have as a resource within ourselves that we don’t have to pay for that a lot of people don’t use because they’re afraid — and that is to ask for help,” she said. “That is the way that this young black girl from Chicago, who had a momma working for the government and a dad that was a construction worker and neither one of them knew how to get a kid into the performing arts. That’s how I did it.”
Bennett also discussed her experiences working as a cast member on “The Jamie Foxx Show,” co-hosting “The Funky Divas Podcast” and eventually creating a weekly virtual coaching on her Instagram page, officialmissrnb.
Mariah Webster, a student from Howard University, asked Bennett, “What’s a quote that you try to live by and why?”
“‘How you do anything is how you do is everything,’” Bennett said. “… If you keep your word to yourself, you’re going to start keeping your word to other people. You’re going to start keeping your word in life.”