R&B Star Eric Benét Makes Leading Role Debut in gmc Movie, Trinity Goodheart, Which Releases to DVD This Week
At 44, Eric Benét has come to understand that getting everything all at once, isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Instead, he’s learned to enjoy the journey of reaching his goals. This year, he can check off yet another milestone – his first starring role.
Benét stars opposite Erica Gluck ("The Game") and a stellar cast of veteran actors, including James Hong, in the gmc Movie, Trinity Goodheart. The network's first original feature film, Trinity Goodheart premiered in August and releases on DVD this week.
The movie is part of the network’s mission to bring family and faith-driven series and original movies, following the cable channel’s re-branding in 2010.
Says Benét, “It’s great that there's a place where viewers, while flipping through the channels, know that when they turn to gmc, there won't be anything that they need to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about watching with their families. In fact, it’s going to be programming that brings the family closer together.”
Trinity Goodheart is the story of a smart, independent and strong-willed young girl (Gluck) being raised by her single, free-spirited musician father (Benét). When an angel gives her the missing half of a broken heart pendant that once belonged to her long-lost mother, she sets off on a quest to find her mother and reunite the family.
Both writer Rhonda Baraka and gmc vice chair Brad Siegel knew right from the start that they wanted Benét to play the part of Trinity's father.
“My manager had actually read the script and I said, 'I’ll get to it,' but I didn’t get to it, so Brad and Rhonda and a couple of people from gmc kind of ambushed me in Atlanta. I was at a gig and they came backstage and were like, ‘look, we think you’d be great for this movie. Check out the script.”
The Perfect Role
By the first few pages, Benét saw parallels to his own life.
“My daughter, India, is 19 now and I’ve been a single father for most of her life. A lot of those adorable qualities about Jeremy of being creative, and that Bohemian kind of parenting... I had a lot of that too. As well as a lot of the struggles of the mother being gone and not really knowing why she was gone. It fit.”
Playing opposite 12-year-old actress Gluck was also the perfect fit for the R&B star, whose acting experience was limited to guest appearances on the TV sitcoms “For Your Love” and “Half & Half” and a small role in Mariah Carey’s movie debut, “Glitter."
Gluck, who’d been acting since age four and had completed three seasons on “The Game,” was a seasoned pro. But for Benét, there was a striking similarity that broke the ice between the two.
“I looked at her and said 'oh, let me show you a picture of my daughter.' There are so many visual and physical similarities between them and my daughter is – as you can imagine – fun and goofy and great to hang with," he says. "I saw all those things in Erica and it just made the process easier.”
Gluck, who had Googled Benét before meeting him, noted that working with him came naturally.
“It’s just a chemistry with some people that you have that you don’t share with others, but I’m really happy that they cast him as Jeremy,” Gluck says. "Not everyone is just like a big kid like Eric.”
Then again, it’s now a happier time for Benét, whose highly publicized marriage to Halle Berry ended in 2005. On July 31, he wed longtime girlfriend, Manuela Testolini, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child. He is about to start work on a new album.
“Music is like breathing to me,” he says. “Acting was a challenge. It was something I had to school up on and step outside of my comfort zone to do, but I liked that challenge and I’d like to do it again. I’d never really been bitten by the acting bug until this experience, but now I have been.”
And when Benét sets a goal, he has tunnelvision about it.
“I’ve been that way my whole life,” he reveals. “From a Milwaukee kid who wanted to become a recording artist and had a lot of people saying it wasn’t really possible, I’ve just always been hard-headed when it comes to something that I want, and I’ll just go get it.
“Trinity Goodheart was so emotional and such a beautiful story that I took the time to work with an acting coach in L.A. and really deconstruct the character and figure out the layers of him and his background, and I think it made a difference.”
As did the experience of being a single father, which came on the heels of personal tragedy as girlfriend Tami, the mother of his 19-year-old daughter, died in 1993 after being critically injured in an automobile accident.
“India was 15 months old. During that time, I didn’t give up, but there was a lot of depression. Almost as a byproduct of the depression, the music just stopped in my head,” Benét continues. “Before that happened, as long as I can remember there was just this ongoing soundtrack in my head.
“One of the more beautiful messages about this movie is that we all have those episodes in our evolution as a family where we’re estranged from someone or something happened and you’ve decided 'I ain’t never going to talk to that person again.' Those negative feelings take root and years may go by before you speak to that person. One of the beautiful things this movie does is that it’s a loving, gentle nudge in the [right] direction.”
In the process, he seems to have found a real bond with his young co-star, who ironically enough, is presently in the studio working on her first album.
“She’s a great singer,” Benét says of Gluck. “She’s really talented and a writer too so that’s incredible at age 12. I made a prediction that in the not too distant future, she’s going to be walking across that stage getting a Golden Globe.”
Both say they were changed by the project.
Notes Gluck, “Trinity is so forgiving and so loving and understanding, that being her for a month, I hope I walked away with at least as much passion for life as she has.”
As for Benét, Trinity Goodheart’s greatest message mirrored gmc's mission: Uplifting Entertainment.
“Cherishing the power of love... not taking love for granted,” Benét reports. “Just really realizing the power and the need to nurture that rare gift of love that you have between close friends and family.”
Copyright 2011, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
Lisa Collins, a Los Angeles native and resident, is a syndicated columnist, writer, publisher and former Billboard Magazine columnist. Her career in gospel began in 1988 with her creation of "Inside Gospel," a daily/weekly syndicated radio series that provided news, profiles and product updates relative to the gospel music community. For the next eight years, she would also serve as executive producer of the show that was broadcast in more than 100 markets nationwide. Collins has also served as a segment producer for BET and authored well over 300 articles on a variety of issues for a number of national publications from Essence to Upscale. Her background in the field of entertainment reporting is extensive, featuring cover stories and interviews with the likes of Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson and Prince.
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