Amanda Grace Benitez: Why It Was So ‘Incredible’ To Have A Female Director For ‘The Ranger’

Amanda Grace Benitez is a name you’re going to want to remember. ‘The Ranger’ star talked to us EXCLUSIVELY about being an rising star in Hollywood, her ‘amazing’ experience with director Jenn Wexler, and more!

Amanda Grace Benitez is one of the stars of The Ranger, a new horror movie with a punk edge. The movie, directed by Jenn Wexler, premiered at SXSW this year. Amanda stopped by HollywoodLife’s New York offices to talk about the movie and her burgeoning acting career. She revealed that when she first read the script for The Ranger, she “freaking loved it.”

Amanda’s other credits include All Cheerleaders Must Die, School of Rock, and the upcoming Emerson Heights. Amanda is just getting started when it comes to her acting career, and she’s constantly looking to strive “higher and higher.” In addition to acting, Amanda’s also a professional drummer. What can’t this girl do? Check out our full Q&A below!

What stood about the role of Amber in The Ranger?
Amanda Grace Benitez: Because it was me when I was 13 and 14 years old. I was that punk rocker. I’m a drummer, so I’ve been drumming for some time. I thought, “Oh my gosh, I get to relive my memories when I was younger? Heck yeah!” This character is a lot more out there and crazier for sure, though.

There’s still a lack of female directors in Hollywood. How does it feel to be a part of something that continues to break the glass ceiling?
Amanda Grace Benitez: It’s absolutely amazing. The cool thing about it, since this story is about a young girl, it’s nice to have a female director who can actually give that actress proper notes, rather than a male director trying to get in the mindset of a young teenage girl. For me, I feel like it’s a lot better. I think that it’s weird that it’s so uncommon because it should just be a thing. If you want to be a director, whatever you want to do in life, it shouldn’t matter. I think it’s such a powerful, strong movement for all of us. It was the most incredible experience.

How did you get started in acting and who are some of your acting influences?
Amanda Grace Benitez: Okay, so I’m not that typical kid where I grew up always wanting to be in front of the camera. I was actually the shyest kid in the world. My parents put me into dance, and I think that very much just let me become confident within myself. I loved it. One random day I wanted to audition to be the host of a talent show at my elementary school. I memorized all my lines, and everyone else’s, and I just had the best adrenaline feeling in the world. From that moment forward, my mom and dad were both set decorators, so I constantly would pretend to be sick to go to set with them. I wanted to say that I got into professional acting when I was 15, and one of my influences, sorry to be so cliche, is Meryl Streep.

Wait, so how does drumming fit into all of this? How did you get started in that?
Amanda Grace Benitez: When I was about 12 years old, I had a boyfriend and he was a big punk rocker. He was a drummer at the time, so I would watch him play the drums. I thought it was so cool. He would play to punk music, so that’s how I got introduced to Comeback Kid, Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits. I love them. It runs in my veins. I think it was the following year I just went to a random guitar center and sat in the back with the drum set. My dad heard that I could actually keep a beat, and he signed me up for lessons.

You’re a rising actress in Hollywood. What’s something you want to prove to yourself?
Amanda Grace Benitez: Something that I want to prove to myself is that I will be able to overcome any obstacle that’s being put forth in my way. Because I feel like sometimes, as a young actress, we want to take on roles that are quite easier. For me, I’ll never be where I want to be. I’ll always keep striving higher and higher. I think that I want to prove to myself that I can take on a complicated, intricate role and be able to actually do it and move the audience and be able to make my whole production really happy. I want to prove to myself that no matter how hard something is, no matter how tough it is, I should never give up and always believe in myself.

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