The days of hitting up Tony Award-nominated actor Denée Benton for Hamilton tickets are long gone. For a little over two years, playing Eliza Hamilton at times also involved Benton becoming a part-time ticket broker. These days she’s turning heads with her flawless performance as Peggy Scott in HBO Max hit series, The Gilded Age.
Benton feels a profound responsibility comes with playing Peggy Scott. Playing a writer and voice for an African American culture newspaper which is often ignored or erased when we discuss this time period is a heavy burden to carry but Benton gladly takes on that challenge. During our discussion, she shared that it feels that her portrayal of Peggy is a way she can recover what has been seemingly forgotten or ignored. Benton even added that during those moments where she’s filming and their pictures are supposed to be her relatives on the show, she can feel their presence. One could say that history still has its eyes on her even now.
While some might be taken aback by the critical acclaim Benton has received for her performance in The Gilded Age, anyone who knows her background isn’t even the least bit shocked. Inspired by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, she studied acting at Carnegie Mellon University and graduated in 2014. She was cast as Nabulungi in London’s West End production of The Book of Mormon in 2014, followed by the U.S. national tour of the show. Benton was then cast in Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812 playing Natasha which was a role that led to her first-ever Tony nomination. After a short stint at Carnegie Hall in Of Thee I Sing, she was then cast as Eliza in the Broadway production of Hamilton. With every stop in her career, Benton has exceeded expectations no matter how big the role.
Now the success of The Gilded Age will likely take Denée Benton’s status in Hollywood and launch it towards the stars. For someone who is so invested in her role and has a clear understanding of the burden which comes with playing Peggy, it shouldn’t shock anyone that Benton is the breakout star of The Gilded Age. What’s exciting is that it’s only just begun.
Denée Benton is Emmy eligible for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for The Gilded Age.
Photo: Alison Rosa/HBO