Entertainment, Profiles, Stories

Lizet Benrey: An Artist Fulfilling her Dream

March 7, 2018

By Mimi Pollack

Lizet Benrey (Photo/ Timothy Donovan)

Mexican American actress Lizet Benrey has performed on both sides of the border and although she has an unusual background, she is pursuing a lifelong dream later in life and doing it with youthful enthusiasm and good looks to match.

Her late mother, Shirley Chernitsky, was a well known artist in Mexico, and Benrey followed in her footsteps, however, she has taken her creativity one step further.

Not only is she a talented artist, she is also an actress, filmmaker, and a screenplay writer.

Benrey was born and raised in Mexico City with her mother who was a free spirit and somewhat of a black sheep, so she grew up surrounded by an artistic, bohemian community.

The Mexican painter Jose Luis Cuevas, whose work has been exhibited at the Tasende gallery in La Jolla, was a good friend of the family.

While she was studying at the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City, she fell in with a group of fellow students and aspiring filmmakers. Some have since gone on to have successful careers in both Mexico and the United States, including her then boyfriend, Alejandro Gonzalez-Iῇarritu who won an Oscar for the movie “Gravity” in 2014.

Then, fate intervened, and her father brought her to live in San Diego. She earned her bachelors at UC San Diego in Visual Arts. She also met her future husband, Francis Fuller, an engineer.

They have two sons together, Jonathan and Alexander. She began a life of happy domesticity taking care of her husband and raising her two sons.

However, her artistic life wasn’t completely on the back burner. She continued to paint and showcase her work on both sides of the border.

One of her proudest moments was working on a worldwide exhibition with her mother. Benrey wanted to prove she could make it on her own, and soon began to make a name for herself while still attending to her role as a wife and mother.

While her two sons were finishing up high school, she began to feel restless, wanting to express some stifled creativity. Although she still loved painting, she felt a yearning to go back to her first loves, acting and filmmaking.

When her mother passed away 12 years ago, she worked together with the Mexican director, Lucy Orozco, to make a documentary about her mother’s life. She said it was a way to help her process her grief.

In 2009, Benrey decided to work on her own, and made a short film about a young, Puerto Rican-American man with Down’s syndrome called “Hiram, Life and Rhythm.” In 2011, she started acting and appeared as Camille Claudel in Larry Caveney’s film “In Defense of Rodin.” She is proud of a short film she did on the life of the Mexican painter, Leonora Carrington. It is called “Leonora y Gabriel- an Instant.”

A new chapter in her life had begun with her family fully supporting her, especially her two sons. They told her they were happy all her creative juices were flowing again. Her latest goal is to bring her artistic vision into every aspect of filmmaking.

In 2017, she started a production company with Thom Michael Mulligan called “Film Dreams Entertainment.” They produced, “Noticed.” Their latest project, to be completed soon, is a feature short called, “The Witching Hour.”

Benrey is currently writing, producing, and acting in her own films, as well as acting in other people’s films. She also recently collaborated with director Luis Mandoki on three screenplays for possible future projects. She completes every project with pride she is especially excited about, “The Witching Hour” and as a way of fulfilling her dreams.

Two of her films will be featured in the San Diego Film Festival, which runs from March 1 to March 11, such as the short film “Notice” and the feature length film “Carving a Life.”

“Notice” will be shown on March 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Photographic Arts as part of “A Woman’s Place” shorts program.

“Carving a Life” will be shown on March 3 at 4:00 p.m. at the Digital Gym-Media Arts Center.

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