October / Bennett
Name: Bennett Chamberlain
Lives in: Highland Heights, KY
Earning: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting
Responsible for: At David's Bridal, helping clients find and accessorize “the one,” dressing bridesmaids, and helping everyone feel confident about their big day; at PPP, making magic for everyone by singing, dancing, and portraying the classic characters everyone knows and loves (plus some wig restyling!)
She Is Balanced: You graduate college this winter! Do you feel stressed, or is it a relief?
Bennett Chamberlain: Definitely a relief. I am graduating early in December. It's like, yes! We're done! I like school. I like learning. I always have, but like mentally, emotionally, physically, I just cannot thrive on a 15-16 hour course load along with trying to work and trying to manage my health and stuff. There's definitely anxiety over graduating in general, but at the moment it's overshadowed with like, “We did it!” I mean, we didn't even think I was going to finish high school, much less go to college. Five of [my semesters] we seriously considered me having to take medical leave, just because I was in the hospital so much with migraines or withdrawals for medication.
SIB: What are your postgraduate plans?
BC: You qualify for the Disney college program up to a year after you graduate. So the original plan was to apply now and then go in January. Obviously that's not a thing anymore, so I'm going to stay here. I have two good jobs, a nice little place. My friends are here, I have a boyfriend here. My family isn't that far away. So it's really going to be working, enjoying not having to do school, and saving up for when I do go down to Florida. Just kind of being for a while, which is exciting.
SIB: You majored in acting, but you also love costume design! Tell me about that!
BC: I came in with some sewing knowledge, but like from when I was 10. The professors were amazing. If you come in and you're like, “I want to learn how to sew,” they will teach you. I went through basic costume construction classes, which is patterning, pockets, zippers buttons, all that fun stuff. I took a costume crafts class, which is hat making and working with leather. And Worbla, so more cosplay stuff. Right now I'm doing an independent study that's basically skills I am not comfortable with and need to learn. My first project is making three, like basic bodices, [each with] different sleeves. Then we're going to do something with plaid, cause plaid sucks. *laughs* And pants, because pants are terrifying. But it's chill because there's no one in there but me. It's nice that I can use the whole space, cause I'm messy.
SIB: Which movie or theater production has your favorite costumes?
BC: Anything where you can subvert the expected. Like if you put on The Wizard of Oz, you can't have Dorothy not in a blue checkered dress. Whereas when we did Midsummer, they set it in the 50s. That's really cool, just re-imagining things.
SIB: With your job at Party Princess Productions, you get to be all of these Disney princesses. Who's your favorite princess?
BC: Favorite OG Disney princesses, Ariel; favorite new wave princesses, Tiana. Tiana just gets it done. She's hardworking. She knows what she wants. Not that the other princesses don't, but [it's different] because she starts off in a less fairytale setting. It's automatically easier to relate to. Rapunzel's stuck in a tower, and you can relate to being quarantined or whatever, but Tiana, she wants to open her own business. You relate to that immediately. Anna and Rapunzel are usually the ones that I think I portray the best.
BC: If I'm doing a princess gig, I am so excited. Like, “Oh my god, let's play games! Who's your favorite princess??” So when I'm Elsa, I have to remember to be more calm and queenly, whereas with Anna I can just be a complete spazz, which is lots more fun for me.
SIB: Do you bring all your acting skills to the table with those gigs?
BC: Oh, for sure. It's basically all improv, which is hilarious because I have always said I hate improv. And then I ended up in a job that's largely improv because you never know what kids are going to ask you. You have to have a character-appropriate ready response no matter what they say! You have a lot of [kids saying], “Show me your ice powers!” and you have to be like, “Oh, I promised Olaf I wouldn't, cause he loves summer so much. Remember what happened last time!” So you start to develop a folder of stock answers that you can choose.
SIB: What's the funniest question you've had to answer?
BC: I was visiting a family [as Elsa] and it was just one little girl. It was so sweet. I literally started singing and she just hugged me the whole time. And the dad was like, “Tell her what your older brother says about Elsa!” She said, “He says she's HOT!” And I had to be like, “Well, actually he's got it backwards, cause I mean, ice queen, so I'm actually really cold! You better tell him that!” And she was like, “Oh, you're right! I'll be sure to tell him.” The parents were dying laughing. I was patting myself on the back for that one.
SIB: What’s it like preparing to be each Disney princess?
BC: It's actually something I've had to work on because I usually would go out as like Elsa, Anna, [or] Rapunzel. But then during quarantine, we did video calls, and I was everybody because I was one of the only actors that had all the costumes. I looked up a lot of meet and greet videos from Disney World. It's very much based on whatever era they're in. Cindy and Belle are going to be more like, "Oh dear! Oh my! What a lovely day!" whereas Anna can be like, "That's so cool!" So it's shifting into more of a classic princess mindset versus a modern, spazzy [princess] [like Rapunzel] or Anna.
SIB: Some parents, including Keira Knightley, don’t let their daughters watch princess movies because they believe it sets them a bad example. What do you think about that?
BC: It's interesting. I grew up with Disney princesses. I always saw what I wanted to see in those princesses, which was loving to read like Belle, or Ariel was adventurous and she wanted to go find curious things. Or even like Anna, I relate to her so much. *laughs* The first movie came out freshman year of high school, which is very much the age of, I don't know what I'm doing or who I am - I'm just kind of doing my thing - and so was she. Princes are cool, and yes, [the princesses] do get married in the end, but that's a small part of their story. And I think people are doing them a disservice by making it their whole story.
SIB: I like that. People see a reflection of themselves in the stories.
BC: If you were taught growing up, as many older generations were, that you need to settle down, you need to have a family, you need to find a man, that's what they're going to see in those stories. But a little kid now, if they're taught to go exploring like Moana or be whatever you want to be like Ariel, or paint like Rapunzel, that's what they're going to take away from it.
SIB: Do you make your own costumes?
BC: Not for princessing yet. That is a goal! [Party Princess Productions] provides the costumes. That being said, I have bought a couple of my own just because it's easier for me if I have a wig and costume that I can just grab and go. Also, I like it! I just got a really nice Elsa travel costume from the second movie that I adore and I can't wait to wear it.
SIB: In the past decade, creating and wearing clothes from other eras has become more of an accepted hobby. Why do you think that is?
BC: Many different reasons. When everyone is young, everyone plays make-believe. We all imagine ourselves as someone else. And whether it be costumes or cosplay or just everyday wear from a different century, it taps into that [sense of] being a different person, even if it's still you. Maybe putting on a 50s dress makes you feel a little flirty; maybe putting on an 18th century ballgown makes you feel regal. It taps into this little thing in the back of your mind, that's like, I can be someone else. I think that's something everybody wants at one or many points of their life.
SIB: What sewing basics do you think everyone should know?
BC: [How to] sew on a button, [or] take in a shirt or a pair of pants. Sizing is completely inconsistent, no matter where you buy from, so nothing is going to fit perfectly.
SIB: That scares me, taking in a pair of pants.
BC: It depends on how you do it. I cheat a lot and just tack it. You just feel better when your clothes fit well, so learning how to take it in, or even just learning how to recognize this doesn't fit [is important]. Just little things like that. Basic how to take care of your clothes. You can throw everything in the wash, but some things need to air-dry. Although, if you only buy fast fashion it’s kind of a moot point, unfortunately.
SIB: How do you circumvent fast fashion?
BC: It's hard because I'm a college student on a budget. And I'm not gonna lie, when I started my new job that has to have business wear - and in certain colors that I did not have - I definitely looked at Forever21 and H&M because that's what I have to do. But, say, a particular dress is trendy -
SIB: Like the strawberry dress?
BC: Oh, I love the strawberry dress! So it's like, let's see if I can save up for it, rather than doing the instant gratification thing and buying it from Forever21. I've started trying that. It's not always perfect. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. But I've also always loved going to Goodwill and thrift stores. And I keep my clothes way longer than other people. Again, if you know how to take care of your clothes and you don't wash them every time you wear them, as long as they don't smell, they're also going to last a lot longer. Even in the early 1900s, people didn't wash their clothes all the time. They had five outfits and they washed each of them like once a month. It was a different mentality that came along with the invention of washing machines. Costume history is a wild class.
SIB: During a princess gig, how do you keep your makeup from melting off your face?
BC: I use the Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray. Everyone knows about it, but it's popular for a reason. It works. If worst comes to absolute worst, you can set [your makeup] with hairspray. It's not good for you. Like, don't do it every day. But if I have an eight hour event that's outside and I have to be Elsa, I will definitely just like *mimes spraying hairspray on her face*
SIB: What do you do at the end of the day to let your skin breathe?
BC: I always take things off right after an event. In the car, I have a pack of makeup wipes. I know the makeup eraser cloths are really popular to cut down on waste, which I love, but it would be completely covered from one gig and the idea of using that the next night disgusts me! *laughs* So I'd have to have seven and wash them every day, or I can use makeup wipes. I have an oil cleanser that I do all over, then do cleanser again. Then I use my Clarisonic, which is a godsend. And then just cake the moisturizer and go from there.
SIB: What other performing jobs do you have?
BC: I'm actually contracted again this year with a company in Cincinnati that manages the parks and does city events. We're doing Santa again, and I get to be Santa's helper! [Last year], I showed up in an elf hat, elf ears, big shoes, like, “Okay, I'm ready!” They hired me again, so I guess I did fine.
SIB: That sounds awesome!
BC: It's so fun. It's very much a mix. Some kids are super stoked, some kids aren't really sure. Some are screaming babies; some babies are asleep and it's really cute. Like you never know what you're going to get.
SIB: How do you deal with your depression when you're inside so much?
BC: It was rough. My depression cure is to go out and see people. And I already often have to miss things and be inside because of [my migraines]. I would go outside and just sit in the front lawn and listen to music or something. If I had to stay in my room, even opening up the window helps more than I think it will.
SIB: Did your daith piercing help with your migraines?
BC: No. *laughs* A lot of people swear it does! I guess I was in the other 50% that it did not. I got it the summer before sophomore year of college. My mom and I had heard about it for many years and we were at the point where it was like, let's try it. If it doesn't work, we'll just take it out. My mom doesn't like tattoos or weird piercings, anything like that, [but when] I got it, she was like, “It kind of suits you.” So I left it in. If I ever do go to Disney, it'll have to come out. So I'm just enjoying it while it's there.
SIB: Are you still having migraines?
BC: Yeah. They were pretty debilitating a couple of years ago when I last saw you. I never get good sleep because everything is constantly in pain. It got really bad again junior year of college and that's when we were like, maybe we should get this checked out. I do Botox now, and that definitely helps a lot. It cut it down from two ER visits a month to one, which is effectively a 50% decrease. And it definitely helps the day to day, small amounts of pain that add up to be intolerable. I am worlds better than I was. Even doing something like this [interview] or working or doing princess gigs or driving would have been unimaginable.
SIB: You didn't drive for a long time.
BC: Right. I got my license when I was 20. There are still moments where I will be driving to the grocery store and be like, “Wow, I'm driving myself to the grocery store. And I can get home and put away the groceries and not immediately have to take a nap!” I'm like, holy cow! Life!
SIB: Tell me about your car!
BC: She is my pride and joy. My mom and I were in a really bad car crash a couple of days before Christmas in 2017. It was totally the other guy's fault, so we ended up getting settlement money from that. Considering we had almost died in this car crash, it was like, I want [a car] with safety features, I want something that will protect me. And then we ended up getting double the settlement money. So I ended up getting a really nice car. She's a 2019 Hyundai Kona, and she's like the ultimate edition, so she's got all the bells and whistles. I love her so much.
The trunk is a little smaller, but we were opening it up and I was like, “I could still fit two ballgowns in here.” The dealer guy was like, “Huh?” And I'm like, You don't need to worry about that.
SIB: What's your favorite thing about fall?
BC: Fashion, definitely!
SIB: Do you have any plans for Halloween?
BC: There's a couple people who are doing small gatherings with people we already hang out with, so it's not extra risk. I have a costume! It's actually the first year I haven't been something in particular. I just had a vibe and went with it. I found these thigh-high plum purple boots. And then I had a ruched black halter dress with flowy chiffon pieces hanging off that looks kind of witchy and cool. I ended up getting a plum bob wig. I eventually [realized], goth flapper - that's the vibe we're going for.
SIB: What are things you do just for you, to make you happy?
BC: I'm really into a bunch of different fandoms. I watch a lot of video game playthroughs on YouTube, [and] essay videos dissecting Marvel movies, the DC universe, or Zelda. I'm watching a play through of my favorite video game ever right now for like the third time. I read a lot of fanfiction.
SIB: Do you write fanfiction?
BC: I do! Not as much as I used to. I grew up hating writing. I could never get more than like two pages of a story down. And then after said car crash, there were a lot of late sleepless nights sitting in bed, wondering why I was alive. I remember pulling out my iPad and starting writing. Eventually I had like 30,000 words. And I was like, I guess I'll make a Tumblr and see if anybody likes it. People did. So I started with Star Wars and then a lot of anime and Marvel. [I have] ideas for many other fandoms, but who knows if they'll ever get put down on paper. I mostly write reader inserts. If I'm writing fan fiction, it's because I want to be in the story.
SIB: What’s your Avengers story about?
BC: It’s the Avengers plus Loki. I wrote it when I was going through my semester of withdrawal from this medication. Honestly I was probably tripping, cause the medication makes you hallucinate. I remember thinking, “What would make someone ask the god of lies to lie to them?” Thus, the story was born. I'm quite proud of it.
SIB: What does balance mean to you?
BC: To me at this moment it would be being able to support myself physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, and not running myself into the ground medically. Like if I could do all of that...that would be ideal.