Sally Victoria Benson (维多利亚）is a Chinese speaking Australian-born actress and model based in Beijing.
She is not just a pretty blonde who aspires to become famous in China’s entertainment world by virtue of her alien beauty. As the following interview with the sino-us.com reveals, the young woman possesses the personality, mind and heart to become a well-rounded professional, which is exactly what she aspires to be.
“I never aspired to become a big star, I just want to work on good films and with good people. I like acting and I aim to make it a lifelong career—here in China,” said Benson resting on a sofa seat next to the window. The afternoon sunshine streamed in from the curtained window, reflecting on her blonde hair and pale blue eyes, making the girl’s delicate features even more dreamlike.
A fluent Chinese speaker, Benson answered all the questions in Chinese. At first, we thought it was because she grew up in Macao (澳门), but in fact it turned out the 29-year-old spent only a few years studying in Beijing to achieve her current language proficiency.
“I moved to Macao with my family when I was nine and left eight years later to attend college in Australia. So I could speak some Cantonese (广东话) when I was young but I've forgotten it all now,” she explained.
According to this workaholic girl, she has spent the past four years in China working and learning Chinese at the same time.
““My career in China requires me to be fluent in Chinese. Even if I get the chance to act in English, I still need to be able to communicate in Chinese with the director. So I’m always working on my mandarin level, no matter what level of Chinese I have, I always feel like I can improve.” said Victoria with a triumphant smile.
Sally Victoria Benson during an interview with sino-us.com Photo: Ding Yi
And thus she became a Chinese-speaking expatriate actress who can be seen in some big productions.
For now, she accepts job offers for acting, modeling, and hosting. “It’s the amazing thing about China’s showbiz industry. In Australia, entertainers are strictly labeled. You are allowed to do either acting, or modeling, or singing, or hosting. But in China, I’m allowed access to a variety of jobs and challenges,” said Benson, although she noted acting will remain her main longtime pursuit.
Benson ‘fell in love with’ acting when she was just a small girl. “I would use after-school time for watching movies or TV series, and that’s when I decided to become a professional actor,” she said.
Back in Macao, Benson didn’t have many chances to perform, except in some school plays. Although it was just a taste of the spotlight, it was enough to confirm that’s what she would do in the future.
Back in Australia, the girl with a mission equipped herself with a Journalism degree and an acting diploma from a well-established local acting school. “I thought if acting didn’t work out, I could be a TV presenter, but in Australia, if you want to be a TV presenter, you are required to have a degree in Journalism. You need to be able to write!”
When asked why she decided to come to China, Benson said, “Because I knew I needed to go somewhere where I had some advantages. All my acting friends were preparing to go to Hollywood, but I knew I would be just another blonde there. In China, I knew I would be something different, I knew there would be opportunities. I’m also familiar with Asian countries and I believe there will be more opportunities in Asia and in China in the future.”
But people may still wonder how an expatriate with her background could fit into the world of entertainment in China.
“I’ve worked in China as an actress for four years. From my perspective, the entertainment industry here is prospering, and the conditions are getting better every year. Being an actor in China, of course you are required to work hard and sometimes in even horrible conditions. That’s unavoidable and although it’s hard, I’ve adapted to it.”
Photos: provided by Victoria
Benson said she always tries her best to impress the crew she works with in a positive way as it’s always important to leave a good impression. “I work hard and sometimes don’t get much sleep. I don’t inflict unnecessary troubles on the director, because I hope when they later think of me, they will say ‘Oh, Sally Victoria, she was quite good and professional, let’s hire her again.”
There was a scene that Benson said she would always remember. She once stayed a week with the crew of Bygones of Qingdao (青岛往事), a TV series starring famous Chinese comedian Huang Bo (黄渤). And she met the big star in quite an unexpected way. One day, in the early morning, when she entered the dressing room, she found one man sleeping on a bench, body twisted in a quite uncomfortable way. She sat there quietly for the makeup artist to work on her face and maybe two hours later, the man woke up and sat up straight and that’s when she found out that guy was Huang Bo.
“He is a household name, but I think he regards himself more as an actor and not as a star. So he didn’t complain about where he could sleep, he just slept, he was more interested in doing his job and getting it done” said Benson, adding these kinds of experiences in China remind her of what’s important in a job.
Sally Victoria Benson with Huang Bo (黄渤), a famous movie star in China. Photo: Provided by Sally Victoria Benson
When Benson was a small girl, her father took a job as a horse trainer in Macao and they all moved there.
“The experiences of my parents and seeing how many more opportunities there were in Asia and the impact it had on my family greatly affected me. I’m familiar with Asian countries and so moving to Beijing was an easy decision. I’m not scared of being here in China. I know what I want and what I’m capable of,” she said in a firm tone.
She has been based in Beijing since 2008 and is planning to stay long term in order to pursue her acting dream. When asked if the severely polluted air and surging housing prices bother her, she answered frankly, “I could not afford an apartment now anyway but if one day I could, I will buy one and settle down in Beijing. About the bad air, I try not to let it bother me by focusing on the positive things that Beijing has to offer.”
The young Australian actress seems open-minded, down-to-earth and extremely motivated, which are the right attributes to nurture a long and successful career.
Here follows is Victoria's weibo and website: