Crown The Brown: Brian Benni
Crown The Brown: Family Karma –Brian Benni. It can often be difficult growing up in a western world and not being surrounded by people who can relate to your background or culture. It can be even harder when there is a lack of representation in mainstream media but in 2020 all of that changed.
Bravo TV introduced a show called Family Karma that was not only relatable but extremely authentic to the South Asian community. Cast members were adored worldwide, especially Brian Benni because of his fun loving personality and his continuous passion for learning more about his culture and religion.
Brian found it difficult growing up and attending private school. He was not often surrounded by people of Indian descent and found himself having to shy away from his culture to fit into the narrative of those around him.
“I wish I had more confidence in myself to be more accepting of myself and my culture at the time” – Brian Benni
Eventually, Brian was fortunate enough to meet amazing friends who encouraged him to accept himself and become more confident in who he was and have pride in his culture. It enabled him to surround himself by others who would have a positive impact on his life. He proudly started wearing it on his sleeve!
Above all, the confidence grew and led to even more opportunities such as the show Family Karma, where Brian was able to integrate himself more into the community and meet others that could relate to his story. He loved being able to learn more about his background and religion without being judged with the help of his family and friends.
We were certainly intrigued by his story and family dynamic because of how relatable it is. We wanted to know more about this fun loving young man! This is what Brian Benni shared with us:
Who is Brian Benni? How would you describe yourself?
I’m 28 years old from South Florida. A fun loving person, living more in the present. I am always maintaining and maximizing on my goals and my career. I focus a lot on what I want to accomplish but at the same time, working on this show and having the experience taught me to take time for myself. To smell the roses a bit more and be more present in life.
In our community, we always tend to have a lot of pressure on us to better ourselves and work on our careers. I have realized through the experience that it is always good to focus on yourself.
You are well known for the reality show, Family Karma that is currently on bravo TV. How did that opportunity arise?
It really just happened naturally. Our group of friends and dynamics in general just worked well together. The bond that we all have seemed to create a lot of attention. Our families and their quirky ways just made people adore them and Bravo saw that in us all.
They decided that it would be amazing to showcase us and our families. Bravo wanted to showcase representation and the reality of what happens in Indian households and amongst friends and family. Which worked for us since we all have such a beautiful bond.
What was the experience like being on a reality show?
The experience was more fun than anything! It was fun being able to showcase our lives and the reality of being Indian. What I loved most was that there was no acting involved, it was just being genuine and being you.
Hanging out with friends on the daily made the experience even better! Poking each other’s buttons and going back and forth is always a fun time.
Our families had the best time as well. I know my mom had a blast being able to roast me on television every single day which made it even better because people were able to see our bond and how relatable we are.
There is no denying that there is a lack of South Asian representation on television and this show has truly made many proud due to the fact that there is a sense of representation towards the Indian community.
How important is representation and diversity to you and why?
It is huge! There couldn’t be anything bigger than showcasing diversity and representation on screen. When we grew up we never had a show we could really relate to.
Once the show started airing, we received so much of feedback and I was able to notice how many people mentioned the manner in which they could relate to all of us and our lifestyles.
There are so many cultures worldwide and people from various backgrounds relate whether they are Hispanic, Caucasian, African American and more. People can relate to family pressure and disputes in friend groups and more. It’s a show that brings people together!
It enabled a lot of Indians to have a voice and feel as if they had someone to relate to, especially now in mainstream media.
Personally, I felt a lot of pressure in terms of being able to relate to people and being in the Indian community and receiving feedback and hearing people tell me that they relate to my upbringing and my way of life really made me feel so grateful to be able to share that on-screen.
I think it is important to showcase how diverse people are and that not all Indian families are the same. It allowed people to see the differences and how we relate to one another but in a different way.
I feel like it gives people a sense of what Indian families are really like instead of what we usually see in mainstream media such as the stereotypical shows for example the character “Apu” in The Simpsons. The comedies where they showcase us with accents and different stereotypes.
At least now, we have a show that depicts the realities behind families, societal pressure, family pressure, friendship and more.
People have responded extremely fondly to you being on the show and you have had quite amazing feedback. How has this new found recognition and this show impacted on your life?
It has been overwhelming, especially on social media. I did not expect the show to get that amount of feedback, let alone myself!
We are also stuck in quarantine now so I can’t go out and interact with people as much as I would like. I am basically living through Social Media right now and interacting with everyone watching through the platform.
It is fun getting to network and speak to others, as well as reading all the messages and love from people watching the show.
It’s definitely humbling. A lot of people make the most of tiktok which I absolutely love! It is so flattering to receive such love. I am not the best with compliments but I really adore everyone and their creativity! It is awesome.
The feedback is amazing. We get a lot of positive comments and messages which have made it worth it. I get a lot of people that message me. They share how they are able to relate to me and how inspiring the show is. It really makes my day to know that I am not alone and people have similar lifestyles and backgrounds.
Of course, I get a few marriage proposals and prom date requests as well! It is humbling and I really appreciate all the love. I’m sure if it wasn’t quarantine, I would be tuxedo ready for it all! I know my mom, Dharma is loving it.
You also have a Guyanese background! We do not see a lot of that representation on screen.
What was it like to finally be able to represent Guyanese people and what do you love most about being part of that community of people?
My mom was born in Gujarat and came to New Jersey at the age of 16. My dad was born in Guyana.
They both met in college in New Jersey, my dad fought for my mom. It was a very K3G love story! Pure Bollywood. My dad had to fight for their love because my mom comes from a strict Gujarati background and he is West Indian, so he fought for her. They ended up together and had me and my brother!
It is exciting to represent! People from the West are so exciting and fun loving ever. I was exposed to so much more when the West Indian community showed me so much of love. The food, the chutney music and people are so amazing.
It felt great being able to represent people from the West on screen and I feel as if we need more of that. We did not get to show a lot of representation in terms of the culture and everything else related to it but hopefully we will in Season 2.
It is a very tight-knit community and I love how West Indians preserve the old school Bollywood and culture. I thoroughly enjoy getting to learn more about the culture from my dad and social media. It’s beautiful!
If you were not on the show, who do you think you would relate more towards on the show? With who do you relate to more or have similarities towards?
A combination of Bali and Monica. Monica and I are very similar in terms of our personalities, mannerisms despite being seen as a“goody two shoes” and how authentic she is. Bali is very direct and does not care about the opinions that others have of her. She is very outspoken, fun, open to try new things. I see a lot of myself in her because of how genuine, direct and free she is.
What are some of your most memorable moments on the show?
I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone. I loved being able to be around friends on a daily basis. We never really hang out that much because we all have our own things going on with family and work.
It was nice to have spent more time together. Being together all the time was fun and having to be around our parents more was extremely fun, especially to showcase that bond we all have with our parents.
They Key West trip was my personal favourite. It was interesting being able to see everyone’s wild side! I was surprised at the fire that Monica had in her on the trip! I knew she had it in her but I have never seen that side of her before so that was something new to me. It was nice to see a different side of everyone on the trip and having fun at the drag bar as well.
What future projects can we look forward to?
I’m working on a few projects. My mom and I have been working on some videos, Dinner with Dharma. She has been teaching me how to make some amazing dishes and I am enjoying every bit of it. I will be putting together videos and sharing recipes.
I’m also working on some comedy skits for social media. I really enjoy comedy and film.
QUESTIONS FROM READERS
Tell us more about your occupation?
I Work in an IT firm. A consultant. Work on software, hardware and more.
Favourite colour and food?
Favourite food: Indian cuisine. Home cooked Indian food, Italian and Thai.
Favourite TV show that you are binge watching right now?
Peaky Blinders and Money Heist.
3 Favourite Bollywood films
Mohabbatein, K3G and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Favourite Bollywood actor and actress?
Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukherji, Aishwariya Rai and Kareena Kapoor
Favourite film of all time (could watch a thousand times)
Bollywood – Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham
Hollywood – I’m really into Comedy. Anything will Will Farrell and Vince Vaughn. Wedding Crashers. Goodfellas and Scarface as well.
Favourite musician or band?
It depends on my mood. Hip-hop and Old school Disco, Rock n Roll. Drake, The Weeknd’s new album, Stevie Nicks, BeeGees, etc.
If you had the chance to change anything in life, what would you change and why?
I would love to change the day that my best friends passed away back in 2010. They were a huge part of my life. If I could bring them back into my life, it would be amazing. They knew me so well and we shared so much together. They were instrumental to me. 5 October 2010, I would make that day not happen.
A wolf. I love wolves. They are Alpha males and I believe in that. They are protective of their pack. I am always in protective mode when it comes to my family. Wolves are survivors and relentless which is how I see myself. I fight for what I love.
Kareena Kapoor, Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson.
I don’t like when people talk about themselves a lot or brag about things. People who are pretentious. I guess it’s the way I was raised. Generally, I don’t really talk about myself, my goal is to get to know the other person. I just love people who are authentic and are team players.
I also hate when people are always on their phones, especially during a conversation. It is really annoying when you’re trying to get to know someone or have a conversation and they are busy on their phone.
Do you play sports or Instruments?
I wish I played an instrument, I took piano lessons at 12 – Mary Had A Little Lamb is definitely one for the books!
I played every sport. In high school, I wrestled for 5 years. I’m really into combat sports. Boxing for 2 years. Basketball and football are the main two sports that I play with friends.
Daily mantra that you live by?
I remind myself that you make time for what is important. It also depends on the day because certain things are important to you on certain days.
You make time for things that are important to you instead of putting things off because you gain so much more opportunity from getting things done.
Small things such as making the bed, responding to a text or email you have been putting off, calling a friend to catch up after a long time, anything. Make small things a priority because they lead to bigger opportunities!
Furthermore, Brian Benni has certainly warmed the hearts of many! He has a heart of gold and really embraces people with so much of love and appreciation. Family Karma has united a community of people who can relate to family pressure, friendship, cultural differences and more. Be sure to watch the series on Bravo TV! We cannot wait for a Season 2!