Ben Patterson began his career as a model and took to the screen on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Noah’s Arc.” This summer, he’s a part of OWN’s newest show, “Greenleaf,” a megachurch family drama full of secrets, twists and turns. We caught up with Ben to talk the show, his inspiration as an actor and what surprised him about Oprah.
Tell me about your “Greenleaf” character and how you’re finding common ground to bring him to life?
My character on the show is head of security for Greenleaf family. Growing up, I was a swimmer and a lifeguard so I know what it’s like to have parents drop of their kids for the day and you are responsible for ensuring they are safe. As a character on the show, he has an underlying sense of what’s going on.
How has your work on “Greenleaf” challenged you as an artist in ways you haven’t been challenged before?
In two ways. This is the most content I’ve had on a show so I’ve been able to make choices for the character and think on my toes. This is also a high caliber cast. I’d been them in tons of stuff growing up and these are the actors you want to be when you grow up. So I do my homework, I’m prepared and it’s been a good thing.
One of those actors is none other than Oprah Winfrey. What about her surprised you?
She surprised me by knowing who I was before we met. We met on a publicity shoot and she was talking to me as if we had known each other for years. She took time to talk to me and get to know me. She’s not just an international media mogul. She’s energizing.
For you, what’s the point of being an actor?
My goal is that someone will see the show, realize they can speak up and get through what they are going through. As an actor, when you get a role, you teach and help people through your character. In that way, we get to communicate with people on their same level. Acting is about communicating a message.
Where does your inspiration to keep on the grind of an actor come from?
I’m a thoroughly inspired. I’m a new dad, I have a young son who is incredibly funny and smart. It’s inspiring to know that everything I do is being observed. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel and it really does show you how similar people are within their differences.
“Greenleaf” premieres Tuesday, June 21 at 10 p.m. on OWN.