Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello! My name is Zahra Bentham and to keep it short and sweet — I refer to myself as a multi-hyphenate. I sing, act, dance, and of course, there are many other layers to me!
You were a AA/AAA basketball player, but eventually chose acting as your career path. How close were you to focusing solely on sports?
I went to Wexford CSA (Collegiate School for the Arts) where I studied Drama Focus, Music Theatre and was in Dance Intensive for 4 in a half years. I wasn’t always in the arts. I started as an athlete playing AA/AAA basketball, traveling to the states every weekend if not every other weekend. I was also heavily involved in basketball at Wexford as well. I was the team captain on both of my teams. I was juggling about 4-5 days a week in the gym while being in intensive rehearsals for both Drama Focus and our Music Theatre program per semester. It was important for Canadian players to travel down to the states and get the ‘American training’ to become better players and potentially be scouted by an American school. We had scouts at games or at the camps I went to. I was focused on getting scouted and to get a scholarship to go to University for Basketball. I remember being at Michigan State Camp where all of us girls were so determined to do well. Our goal was “kick ass for these scouts and get a scholarship for Michigan State”. I was surrounded by a whole bunch of American girls where they just think and breathe sports differently so, there was an added pressure to stand out and do well. The older I got the more serious is was becoming. Between my rehearsals, practices, shows, and games came a whole bunch of conflicts so by grade 10 I had to make a choice on what to put my full focus on, so I chose the arts.
What can you tell us about your role in the Netflix feature, “Spinning Out”?
So for those who don’t know, Spinning Out is like a Riverdale meets I, Tonya meets Black Swan but….. better. I mean, you’d have to watch it yourself to be the real judge though! (hahaha). Spinning Out follows the subjects of depression and mental illness but told honestly and compassionately. Specifically, we highlight Bipolar disorder and the struggles of dealing with that and the everyday lives we choose. I play Alana who is an upperclassman in college who works at the Sun Valley Lodge. Raised by a single mom, she was taught to takes no L’s and no bullsh*t from people. Especially from love interest Marcus (who’s leads the Ski team) who has a love triangle going on with Kat Baker and Justin Davis. With Alana’s calculated mind she’s able to win over Marcus for showing him who he truly is.
You’re also in another Netflix feature called, “Madam CJ. Walker”. What can audiences expect from the series?
In Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J Walker, I play a woman by the name of Nettie Ransom. Nettie is a highly educated, very sweet, intelligent, proper wife of ‘Ransom’ played by Kevin Carrol. She is a member of the Indiana Coloured Woman’s Club where she helps Sarah Breedlove, played by Octavia Spencer start her business. Madam C.J. Walker was an entrepreneur, philanthropist, political and social activist. Being the wealthiest African-American businesswoman and wealthiest self-made woman in America around 1912, the story takes you on the ride of Madam C.J Walker’s life, her struggles, and her many blessings she encountered. The series is written by Nicole Jefferson Asher and A’Lelia Bundles who is Madam C.J Walker’s great-great-granddaughter (wild!). I hope this series is a history lesson for everyone!
What’s next for your career?
I’m back on the grind. We’re in the thick of it for something called pilot season that happens for actors. So, I’m just auditioning as much as possible and doing great work. God willing something wonderful comes from it. I’m back in the studio recording my album with hopes to release something mid-year. This would be my first written project so it’s all a little exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.
What advice would you have for aspiring actors/actresses?
If you want to do something, do it. Never take “No” as a “No”. Find another way. We all have our bad days. Shed a tear if you have to but then get up and keep going.
What’s your life like off-set?
I’m super chill, man. I love to cook and read, scripts, in particular, I love making music and singing. Meditation has been another really great thing I’ve been doing, which is so dope. I love watching movies and chillin with my friends and family. I keep it pretty simple.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
If you all want to follow me on Instagram and join me on my journey, please do — @zahrabentham