JoCinda Benjamin: “People of color are not a monolith”

Often times we only consider the child performer (which we should) but behind every successful child actor, there’s a parent that gave up their jobs, careers and life’s goals to help make their child’s dream come true. As a part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I […]

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Often times we only consider the child performer (which we should) but behind every successful child actor, there’s a parent that gave up their jobs, careers and life’s goals to help make their child’s dream come true.

As a part of my series about leaders helping to make the entertainment industry more diverse and representative, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing JoCinda Benjamin. JoCinda hails from the music and entertainment industry with networks: Infinity Broadcasting Corporation and CBS Radio. The brain behind promotional campaigns and events, she traded her 12 year career in radio management for a more personal role: full-time momager to her daughter and actress, Jaida Iman Benjamin. Their first stop turned out to be a consecutive one with the hit Broadway National Tour of Annie.

Since then, Jaida has gone on to gain credits that include television shows such as The Step Daddy, Mad About You, Family Reunion, Stuck In the Middle, Austin & Ally, Liv & Maddie, Disney Movie Surfers, Foursome, Criminal Minds Beyond Borders, Southland, The Fosters, Insecure and the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Christmas Everlasting.

With talent management naturally running through her veins, JoCinda expanded her career as a Junior Commercial Agent for Unlimited Possibilities Music & Talent and quickly discovered her flair for actively recruiting great talent while pruning them to succeed. She prides herself in catching her clients in campaigns for Walmart, Ford, Nickelodeon, Old Navy, USO, My Little Pony and Best Buy. After gaining vast experience at UPMT, she later went on to successfully Head the Youth Commercial Department at Littman Talent Group in Calabasas, California.

JoCinda is also the owner of a mobile momager company. Momager On Set was created to “stand in the gap” for industry parents that aren’t always able to navigate their children through the non-stop hustle and bustle of Hollywood auditions, call times, fittings and production. Now working parents and those with several kids on separate production schedules, can steer their child’s acting career with a little less anxiety.

Momager On Set offers transportation to auditions, set-sitting services, coaching and even industry consultations for the parents. Clients have included Niles Fitch (This Is Us, Miss Virginia, Secret Society of Second Born Royals, Mistresses), Mekai Curtis (Power Book III: Raising Kanan, Kirby Buckets), Shannon Brown (Empire, Criminal Minds), Kendall Joy-Hall (Grey’s Anatomy, 911, Good Trouble) and Jeffrey Cade Ross Brown (Schooled, Merrily, The Unicorn, Will & Grace, Sydney to the Max).

The Appalachian State University graduate with a B.S. in Communications, is a proud mother of Loren-Justin Enoch and Jaida-Iman Benjamin and looks forward to helping her clients through a company that believes that business is always personal.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a single mother with a daughter working professionally in the entertainment industry, I found it very difficult getting my daughter to last minute auditions. Once she became an adult, I wanted to start a company assisting Industry Parents by “standing in the gap” for times when they couldn’t be two places at once, needed audition transportation, coaching, consultation or work permits renewed for their child performer.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One day I had 3 audition runs and a self-tape for 4 different clients all over LA. I woke up early, picked up each child from Burbank, Santa Clarita, Culver City & West Hollywood. Took each one to their respective casting offices, warmed them up before going in, had lunch and dropped each child off in reverse. In short, it was a stressful day syncing the audition & travel times, but I did it!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made was when I took 3 kids to an audition all at the same location. You would think this would be a piece of cake? WRONG! I accidentally put in the wrong address and realized it 30 mins into the trip! Once I pulled the car over to compare the address, I literally had 30 mins to get the kids there before casting closed for the day! Let’s just say we made it in the nick of time! Everyone jumped out my car and ran inside like a killer was chasing them! Lol! Casting was so happy to see everyone and even auditioned one girl for a second part! Lesson: TRIPLE CHECK ADDRESSES before leaving! Sometimes a wrong zip code can take you to the middle of nowhere!!!

Ok thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our discussion. Can you describe how you are helping to make popular culture more representative of the US population?

While I was head of the youth commercial Department at Littman Talent Group, I built my talent roster from the ground up. I made sure all ethnicities we’re represented because they also booked campaigns for Blue Cross Blue Shield, Marvel, Jeep, Louis Vuitton, Benetton, Ford, Gold Peak Tea and Samsung!

As an aggressive talent agent, it was my job to build strong relationships with Casting Director’s so they would desire to see my talent. Many of those relationships turned in to callbacks, which turn in to avails and finally bookings! Representation matters from the ground up!

Wow! Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by the work you are doing?

I have many kids impacted by my work. Several child actors fly into LA and I pick them up from the airport and take them to auditions or coaching they may have for the week. Another client (who lives in San Diego) counts on my business to pick him up for several bookings and projects in LA. And several clients require and give me access to pick their child up from school and drive them to auditions. The needs of the parents all vary which makes Momager On-Set an essential business in Hollywood!

Can you share three reasons with our readers about why it’s really important to have diversity represented in Entertainment and its potential effects on our culture?

1. Because only WE can accurately tell our OWN stories. Hollywood is inaccurately shaping the minds, thoughts and impressions of how people view us.

2. People of color are not a monolith. We all have different viewpoints and different experiences.

3. People need to see themselves in order to feel a part of the culture. To show only one image/perspective is not a true representation of who lives in this country.

Can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address the root of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?

The 3 things I would recommend addressing the root of diversity issues in the entertainment business are:

  1. The studios and networks should provide opportunities to people of color to tell their stories and give an in-depth viewpoint through their lens.
  2. Create more programs and workshops within inner city schools for exploring the vast positions available with the entertainment industry. (For Ex. Casting, Talent Agents & Managers, Producers, Writers, Production, Photographers, Videographers, Directors, etc.)

3. Sit down and listen to black creatives on how to diversify Hollywood. That is when change will come.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I would define leadership as the art of motivating one or more people to achieving a goal. In my case, it would be to book a role in a TV show/ Film/Modeling Project or Commercial. When I am doing an

“Audition Run” for a client, I speak nothing but positivity from the time I pick them up, to the time the audition is over. It’s especially important because parents count on me to ensure that their child is comfortable, safe and prepared. I believe my leadership skills is why I have repeat clientele.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Because of social media, I never thought I’d have to be on-camera or exposed to the public like I’ve been.
  2. Because parents count on me, there isn’t any time to get sick or be under the weather. I must be physically fit and alert to drive and keep with up my child performers.
  3. My job is 24 hours. No days off. Because I’m a small business I maintain my social media, create my posts, scheduling my rides and bookings for the week.
  4. I would have to sacrifice my personal time to make sure my clients are where they need to be.
  5. I didn’t know how tedious it would be to obtain a CPS Permit (allows me to work with industry kids), staying on top of vehicle maintenance for the safety of myself and clients as well as staying in compliance with Child Labor Laws for Child Actors and with Set Teachers for education on set.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement for me is expansion. I believe that all industry kids should be able to attend every audition that comes their way! My business is a relief to parents that need to work full-time, have multiple siblings in the industry and can’t be in two places at one time!

Often times we only consider the child performer (which we should) but behind every successful child actor, there’s a parent that gave up their jobs, careers and life’s goals to help make their child’s dream come true.

With that said, my goal is to expand services to other entertainment markets such as, NY/NJ, Chicago, Texas, Florida and Atlanta. Industry parents across the country need support and are willing to pay for it IF they’re allowed to work. That’s what my movement would be, expanding outside of Hollywood by building an app to be used exclusively by and for Industry parents!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It’s time for you to move, realizing that the thing you are seeking is also seeking you.” -Iyanla Vanzant

When I first started my business, I was so afraid that parents would not like the idea of a stranger working with their children. I thought to myself, “Jo, who is really going to allow you to drive their kids all over Los Angeles? Who’s going to trust you to pick up their kids from school and also sit with them on-set?” The honest answer: EVERYONE! And, I have the reviews to prove it! Moral of the story, “What you seek is seeking you!”. I provide a service that is sought after by everybody! I’m totally making a name for myself as the “go-to” for everything Momager.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

The one person I’d love to have a private breakfast or lunch with is Actress & Vegan Foodie, Tabitha Brown. She exudes the same light and energy that I see in myself. She’s colorful, creative, positive and alluring! We have so much in common, big hair, colored nails and we’re both from North Carolina. The passion she has for cooking and making folks smile, is the same passion I have for working with industry kids.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@MomagerOnSet #MomagerOnSet — across all social media.


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