For Benjamin Papac, acting began as a teen in local theater productions
Benjamin Papac’s mother thought her teenage son would jump at the chance to audition for a community theater production. After all, he always enjoyed watching school plays. This would be a perfect fit.
Above, Benjamin Papac in publicity shot. Photos/Nathan Tecson.
She could not have been more wrong — at first.
“I was sitting in the parking lot trying to convince Mom to drive me home,” said Papac, now an adult and a professional actor, in a phone interview with The Citizen from his home in southern California. “I was back and forth. She finally said for me to make up my mind, to stay or go.”
After several minutes of hesitation, he took the plunge, walking into the building where Fayette-Coweta Family Theater was preparing to stage “Schoolhouse Rock Live Jr.”
“I went inside and fell in love with acting almost instantaneously,” he said.
That was about a decade ago. What started as a homeschool mom’s idea to find additional elective credits for her son has led to a career that, at age 24, already has an impressive list of film and television credits on his IMDB page.
The latest is a guest starring role on the CBS-TV series “SWAT” in an episode scheduled to air April 12.
While growing up in Peachtree City, Papac participated in FCFT and Twilight Theater shows as a teen along with a Southside Theater Guild production of “Bye Bye Birdie.”
After graduating from high school at 16, he went to Louisiana State University on a scholarship after auditioning for that school’s music program. He began in the school’s opera program and eventually graduated with a degree in journalism and a minor in music. His college performances included some pieces in an Gilbert and Sullivan opera review as well as a role in a 20th-century opera in his final year.
Through a student exchange program, Papac spent his sophomore year in the Los Angeles area. That experience helped cement the decision to move there after graduation and seek work in the film and television industry. Coincidentally, he was born in Simi Valley, Calif., and his family moved to Georgia when he was an infant.
“From the second I got my first opportunity to come to Los Angeles, my goal was to move here,” he said. “It took some time and a lot of opportunities working out, but that was the plan.”
He fulfilled that goal in August of 2014, but several of his earliest screen roles were filmed on this side of the Mississippi. Those included local productions such as two episodes of “The Walking Dead” and a comedy feature film “The DUFF” as well as “Goosebumps” (he had a line in that film but it was cut).
One of his earliest jobs took him back to the LSU campus, as the Marvel film “Fantastic Four” shot in Baton Rouge. He also appeared in an episode of “NCIS: New Orleans” shortly after that.
“Two months after graduating from college I was back on campus as a professional actor,” he said. “That was really cool.”
More recently he has had several recurring roles. He was a regular on the first season of AMC’s “Into The Badlands” and is perhaps best known for the Netflix series “Greenhouse Academy,” for which he has thus far appeared in all 24 episodes. Papac could not comment on whether that show will return for a third season.
For each of the first two seasons, all of the “Greenhouse Academy” episodes were shot in a three-month period, a reminder that television shows can give the impression of constant weekly activity but for the working actor it can be far different.
“It’s all highs and lows,” said Papac. “My first two years I was working all the time, relatively speaking. Then there was a stretch were I wasn’t on a set for a year and a half. That’s how the industry works, no matter what level you are on. You’ve got to ride those waves — and save your money.”
The upcoming “SWAT” episode is officially credited as a guest starring role, which means Papac’s character will be a big part of that particular episode. It was filmed in mid-February.
To follow his future projects, visit www.imdb.com/name/nm3621230.