Rachel de Benedet spent nearly 20 years on Broadway in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Catch Me if You Can, Nine, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, among others. She has also appeared in over 80 different productions in regional theatres around the country and on national tours. She starred in the film festival hit "Creedmoria" and has a small role in "The Greatest Showman on Earth" with Hugh Jackman, but on stage is where she really feels the most "at home." Since having her son a few years ago, she has begun working in the events and presentation arenas as well. She has trained executives from Intuit/Quickbooks and KFC, and coached entrepreneurs in "Shark Tank" style competitions for Visa. She has also worked extensively with brand ambassadors for KIA and Visa, training them on technology and communication skills. Rachel has also served as Emcee/Host for corporate events and media tours, including the 2016 Olympics for Team Visa, Quickbooks Connect, and Formula E racing/Visa sponsorship in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress.
What's one thing you wish the business world would borrow from the acting world?
The sense of freedom that comes with completely "owning" your material. It seems counter-intuitive, but spontaneity requires a lot of work! As young actors we often don't understand that: we don't know yet how to "inhabit" the song, the lines, the dance. We often hear the phrase, "make it your own", but it takes experience and good training to learn how to make that happen. Great directors are able to help performers find that sense of being inside a role. As a trainer I love being able to help people find their way in to their own material, so that they can feel alive and present as they present!
What do you consider your personal trademark as a trainer?
I think one of the reasons I am good at training is my desire to make the trainees (from CFOs to brand ambassadors) feel fully prepared and comfortable. I am patient and I care. I am convinced that every person alive is more interesting than any character ever written, if you can actually hear their personal story.
Which role or performance of your own has meant the most to you as an actor?
I grew up on a college campus where my dad was the head of the theatre department, so the stage was my playground. I have always been very comfortable up in front of people -- I knew I could do anything in front of any sized audience as long as I had lines written for me and most importantly, a character to play. So for me, one of the biggest challenges I've ever faced was when I received an alumni award from that same college, and I went to accept the award in front of the professors I'd known since I was a child, as well as the student body. I was asked to speak for 30-45 minutes about my life, career, anything I wanted, but as MYSELF, not a character! I thought and thought about what I could say to these people that would interest them, but also convey to them a sense of who I am and what is important to me. I thought about it for MONTHS. On the plane trip there I finally started writing. And writing. And writing. When I landed I had eight pages of legal pad "script" and I was very happy with the structure and the content. So that evening, as I'm being introduced, I reach into my bag for my notes--and they are NOT THERE. Not a note to be found. I walked up to the podium, took a really deep breath, and started talking. Not speaking, talking. And I was breathing. Living in my own skin in front of 500 people. MYSELF. Because I had been crafting this for so long, I knew my material. And because I had no notes, I never looked down. I connected with them and felt spontaneous and felt completely in control of the room. It was probably my favorite moment on stage in my life.
What can't you start your day without?
Strong coffee. With milk, please.
What is your hidden talent?
I can tell you where I was and what I was doing for every day from 1990-2012. Then my son was born and it all becomes a little blurry. I blame sleep deprivation.