Benito Skinner Is All About Drama

Benito Skinner was born and raised in Boise, Idaho, but has long felt destined for Hollywood, by way of a stint in New York City.

“There’s space, and I just needed to fit more of my wigs and costumes in my apartment,” he said of his new West Hollywood rental.

The 27-year-old writer, actor and digital creator, known on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter as Benny Drama, moved to California during the pandemic to expand his career as a sketch artist and comedian — a word he is still barely comfortable using to describe himself. (“It’s like the scariest word in the world, but I do feel like a comedian,” Mr. Skinner said in a recent interview. “That is something that I would never tell, like, a straight man, because then they want to hear a joke.”)

Like many internet-incubated talents, Mr. Skinner worked a day job (as a video editor) while building his following, honing a brand of comedy that pulls heavily from celebrity impressions, including of the Kardashian clan, Lana Del Rey and Shawn Mendes.

He also plays a variety of characters he dreamed up himself, including Jenni the hairdresser, a consummate oversharer who smacks her gum and rips out grays; Kooper the intern, who is egregiously unaware of how to behave professionally at work; and Throat Rippin’ Annie, a deranged chain-smoking, beer-drinking, gun-wielding version of an adult Little Orphan Annie.

“Kris is the most fun for me to do because I was able to give her a full other story,” he said. “I leaned into this internet perception of her that the devil works hard, but Kris works harder.”

Growing up in Boise, Mr. Skinner hid that he was gay. He knew that his family would support him, but thought that if people at school knew, life would only be difficult. As a result, he steered clear of performing (or dressing up as Lindsay Lohan in the movie “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” or as Lady Gaga in her 2010 “Telephone” video, the way he wanted), he said, and played football and “absolutely hated it.”

“Sometimes if I’m on a set and something’s taking a long time or difficult, I’m like, ‘It’s OK, I played football. I can honestly do anything in this life because nothing could be more opposite of my liking or core being.’”

It wasn’t until he was studying film at Georgetown University that he began to feel more comfortable writing stories and being in front of the camera, both things he’d enjoyed doing as a child. Through learning about queer characters in media and finding friends who he thought he could be himself with, Mr. Skinner felt comfortable enough to come out at 22.

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