On Benjamin Daniel Culpepper’s resume, his self-described assessment of types of roles he’d be perfect for are “the good guy,” “the friend that cares,” “the geek who wants to break out of his shell,” “the man who puts his family first” and, he writes, “the goofball.”
Clearly, Benjamin believes he can convincingly portray the underdog in any given setting. Perhaps that’s why one of favorite roles is Charlie in Flowers for Algernon.
“I connected to the character,” said Benjamin, who played Charlie in a theater competition in Texas. “He’s a special needs person who normally doesn’t have a voice in the world, one of the people who gets passed by. I kind of like being able to tell a story like that.”
Among Benjamin’s latest endeavors to tell stories about the underdog through acting will be as a member of the cast of “Scene and Songs from Fannie Lou.” The production, which takes place at Hunter College on Oct. 22, focuses on the voting-rights struggle of grassroots activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
Originally from Texas, Benjamin has been singing basically all his life, beginning vocal training at the age of 4. He was drawn to acting by watching favorites such as Katharine Hepburn.
“She can do anything,” notes Benjamin, garnered best-acting honors in high school theater competitions. “I liked the use of her vessel, her voice, to command a story.”
Yet, when it came time to select a major while attending Texas State University, Benjamin chose economics.
“I always wanted to do acting and singing. But when I got to college [he chose a major] that was a little bit more practical,” he said. He enjoyed various aspects of city planning, so he concentrated in urban economics.
He still managed to perform in several college shows. After graduating, he decided to come to New York City. He has been in New York for a year, and currently attends the Barrow Group Acting Conservatory.
“I love to sing, I love to be in front of people,” said Benjamin. To explain his enjoyment of the stage and performing, he turns to and often-cited quoted by his idol, Katharine Hepburn.
“She said,” said Benjamin, “‘Acting is a childish profession. Who else but a child would get paid to just play?’”
On Oct. 22 Benjamin will play a voting rights resister, showcasing both his singing and acting skills.