For me, being a dark-skinned black woman with natural hair, getting to be this center of this love story — Growing up, I didn’t get to see that very often…I think that artists and people in entertainment, we have such an incredible power to remind people of their worth and to help people dream big. So it’s exciting to get to be a part of that.
“Natasha has such access to big emotions, especially joy, and I recognized that in myself. To play a wide-eyed, confident, edgy ingénue who’s ready to go against what she’s been told to do in life—that’s the way I’ve existed. So as much fun as it is to be transformational, it’s cool to be like, ‘I get you, girl.' ”
But from the moment she heard “No One Else,” Natasha’s lovestruck aria, Benton clicked with the role. “She has this incredible vitality for life, she feels things so deeply. I thought, She’s just as dramatic and romantic as I was—or am, to be honest. Who wouldn’t want to be the romantic lead chased by all these men, and in furs and corsets, you know? I was like, Natasha: I get you, girl!”
Benton underscores how “exclusion is rooted in such an ugly history of purposeful discrimination.” She goes on to note about the need for diversity in casting, “For us, it’s not necessarily a political statement. It’s just our livelihood. We’re actors who are happy to be working and having the opportunity to tell stories.”
“Regardless of whether or not her decisions are bad or good, it’s such an important quality to develop — and one I’m trying to learn for myself — to trust your own heart and know that every decision is part of your path.”