Actor Benjamin Charles Watson stars in Season 3 of TV’s hottest political thriller, “Designated Survivor”. He speaks about the series, his Jamaican roots, other starring roles, and living on a planet with a fever that will never cool.

Ink Tone Swep

Images Noah Asanias

Looks Derek Perret 

Lines Frida Norrman 

Location Los Angeles, CA 

There is always a new story being told in a new place, in a new way, by new storytellers.

Benjamin Charles Watson

When you landed the role of Tariq in The LA Complex years ago did you feel that it would put you on the map as it has? Your momentum has only gained ground since then.

Honestly, I didn’t. I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen. The role ended up being the greatest thing I’ve ever experienced, he was so relatable to so many people on so many different levels. Tariq has changed my life, his character taught me so much about love and life, about acceptance. It was a great foundation for my career.

Why did Brakeman Fuller end up on the Snowpiercer? What is he tasked with in the dystopian TNT series?

Brakeman is basically a guard, he keeps the society at peace, or at least he attempts to. But he works hand in hand with key characters and through each other, they are trying to figure out who they are. This Snowpiercer train is about a caste system, and my character is ambitious. He wants to excel, move up through the ranks and reach the upper echelon, and sometimes he bends the rules en route to accomplishing this.

Several classic Sci-fi films have accurately predicted the future, like when 1968’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” had scenes with a tablet computer, and “Blade Runner” had video calls; “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” even had a mobile phone. Do you think Snowpiercer provides a window into the future in a similar manner?

It’s definitely sci-fi in that it mimics the real world. The people higher-up get whatever they want, the lower classes are in the back of the train… We touch on global warming, because in reality our planet isn’t going to sustain itself forever at the rate natural resources are consumed. And also due to the damage we’ve caused the ozone. We’ve gotten to a point where we are now branching out into Mars, even considering other planets to inhabit. And while I hope the exhaustion of Earth’s resources doesn’t happen during my lifetime, or my children’s lifetime, or their children’s lifetime, that ending is inevitable. Snowpiercer happens in the midst of all this, so in that way I feel its predictive.

Actor Benjamin Charles Watson
in LOOT & RIOT Magazine

Your character Dontae Evans works in the West Wing as the Digital Officer. How did you prepare for a starting role on “Designated Survivor”? One of television’s most popular poli-action drama’s.

Once again, this is another role which changed my life in that I now had to understand American politics, had to learn what a designated survivor was, and had to rise to the occasion. In Canada we don’t delve into politics as much, but because of the current American President, I think we all are more aware and active. Trump has made us feel like his opponent, like he’s against us and not on our side, not maneuvering in our best interest. I needed to be versed in the political arena prior to stepping into this role, so I prepared myself accordingly.

Is there an arcane sort of challenge only actors could identify with when joining a series in its third season, when the show is already established?

Yea, I believe so. Because I think when you are all starting out together from the very beginning it’s more about finding your footing and a common ground alongside the other characters. We’re all actors working together, figuring this thing out. I got to work with Kiefer Sutherland and he knew his character very well. The shooting style is so different, a lot of walking and talking. Making certain my A game is on was my main goal. That was the biggest challenge.

“Designated Survivor” Star
Benjamin Charles Watson

What do you remember most about your early childhood, growing up in Jamaica?

I remember it was a much simpler time. I did not have a computer. My television was black and white, at first, and then one day it turned color. I asked my dad if the world had suddenly become colorful all at once (Laughs!).

Even though Toronto is a very diverse city, was it a major adjustment for you moving from the Caribbean?

It was really a huge adjustment, there were only two black students in my sixth grade class – and I was one of them. Also, I’d never seen snow. It was the greatest experience watching ice rain down from the sky. I didn’t know it existed.

In what ways have your early travels, the exposure to diverse groups of people and places, influenced and impacted your career?

I’ve adjusted so much to this lifestyle that I truly don’t know anything else, I’ve been surrounded by diversity my whole life. I’m Jamaican but spent most of my life in Canada. I feel like the two places, though drastically different, prepared me for my career. There is always a new story being told in a new place, in a new way, by new storytellers.

LOOT & RIOT Magazine
Benjamin Charles Watson
“Designated Survivor”

Let’s talk dream role and co-star for you. What’s the perfect vehicle, who could ride shotgun?

Never been a Marvel guy, until recently when I sat in the theater and watched Avengers. It made me cry. I left wanting to be better and save the world (Laughs!). Then Dark Phoenix is coming out this summer! I would like to star in a similar film. As for co-star, I wouldn’t mind teaming up with DiCaprio on a project. 

What are your summer vacation plans?

I’m literally just going to enjoy life, do some traveling, and write a show about my life. There is nothing out that represents me, or captures us; our life and struggles, so I’m writing that. I need to make something that is an accurate depiction of my experience, one that I feel is relatable. Black Panther was so huge, it changed my life. I want to create something that a lot of people, not only black people, but people from diverse backgrounds around the world who migrated to new places can relate to.

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