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Friday, 6 November 2015

GarconJon meets Benito van Leeuwen: Johannesburg, South Africa: Model Off Duty

In the third of five interviews from South Africa, I meet with actor and model Benito van Leeuwen. As a boy who grew up amongst wildlife on safari, we thought there'd be no better place to shoot than the rural hillside village of the Four Seasons. Spread across five venues woven with courtyards, fountains and gardens, we shot against panoramic views of the city and chatted about life as a model.


Benito van Leeuwen, Model and actor

When you were a wee boy what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an actor because I loved drama. Being transported to another world. Funnily enough, I also wanted to be a soldier because I’ve always had a fascination with the military.

Have you always lived in Johannesburg? Yes actually, Joburg born and bred. In fact, I still live in the same house that I was born in. I love the vibes and people of this city, I can't imagine being anywhere else.

If someone had one place to visit in South Africa, where would you tell them to go? Most certainly Cape Vidal KZN. The area where the bush meets the coast has amazing wild life which is something I really appreciate. I also think it's the best area for fishing. Without a doubt one of the most beautiful places on earth.

How did you get into modelling? I first started modelling as I thought it was a good way to get into acting. I'm really keen to move my career overseas.

What's been your best job as a model? The best gig I've ever done was for Urban Planet in Los Angeles. It was the first big shoot I ever got to do and obviosuly a long way to travel from home. The best bit about it has got to be driving an an old Mustang all day. The funniest job though was one where there was nowhere to chance. I bascially had to strip down stark naked in the middle of the busiest city road. It's just part of the job now though.

You said you also worked on safari, how long have you done that? I've been on safari since I was a kid as my uncle has a game farm. I've leanred so much from him while growing up. My favourite animal on safari are the leopards as it’s very rare to see one in the wild.

Describe yourself in 5 words. Enthusiasm, eccentric, passionate, crazy and kind hearted.

What are you biggest influences in life? Family and friends.

What's on your horizon at the moment? My dream is to work in Hollywood so I'm currently laying groundwork to apply for a working visa in America.

Leave us with some words of wisdom. Ability is only dampened by one’s self doubt.

Benito wears all South African designers
Look 1: Tailored coat with cape by Palse
Look 2: White shorts by Amos Tranque
Look 3: Patchwork jacket by Wake
Look 4: Hand painted blazer by House of Ole

Thanks to Four Seasons Johannesburg for the location & hospitality.