Gbenjo, a 16-year-old junior at Reed High School, is currently managing a schedule comprised of three Advanced Placement classes, spots on the wrestling and track and field team and active participation in Reed’s Drama Club. In keeping organized and motivated, Gbenjo looks to his older siblings as the example for the high school life he wants for himself.
“I get my inspiration from my sisters,” Gbenjo said. “My second oldest sister was Salutatorian and oldest sister was third in her school. I want to follow in their footsteps and do well for myself.”
Gbenjo revealed the mindset that fuels his participation in clubs and sports, as well as his success in the classroom, when asked which classes particularly intrigued or challenged him.
“Honestly, history isn’t my best subject, but I find it kind of interesting to learn about the past and learn how America was formed,” he said. “But to succeed in that class you have to be one or two steps ahead of everybody, so it also takes some self motivation because if you want to become great, it starts with you. You have to work on yourself and have that motivation to do well for yourself.”
Gbenjo applied his self-motivational advice to his most recent theater endeavor when he landed the role of Nick Bottom in the school’s production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in November. Gbenjo said the part required a significant time commitment for preparation and rehearsal but ultimately provided satisfaction.
“I basically immerse myself in the type of things that (Bottom) did because he was one of those characters who was kind of full of himself in a way,” Gbenjo said, “So I had to become conceited even though I am not conceited. It was really hard for me, to be honest, because I don’t really like talking about myself a lot or praising myself. I try to be humble as much as possible.
“I also had the memorization side of things which was also pretty difficult because you have to make sure you get each line word for word and know how to put certain emotions to go with that specific line. It was fun and it took a lot of my time, but I really enjoyed working all of my friends.”
Gbenjo said he began performing in the school’s theater productions this year and, though he will miss the spring performance of Les Misérables, he plans for acting to play a lead role in his future.
Gbenjo said he would like to attend Boston University upon his graduation from Reed High to double major in psychology and acting. Gbenjo, who was born in New York, said the east coast has always held a special spot in his heart.
“Boston itself, from what I have researched, is a really nice place and a historical place as well. I thought it would be kind of cool to live in a place like that,” Gbenjo said. “My sister lives on the east coast and is going to Cornell, and I want to be on the east coast as well because I was born in New York. I think it would be kind of cool to be in the area where I grew up.”
Gbenjo’s interest in possibly becoming a clinical psychologist stems from the complexities of the human mind. His current involvement in AP Psychology at Reed has him studying how the brain processes memory and functions during memorization — an intriguing concept to the high school junior.
“I have always found it interesting to learn about the human mind,” he said, “And why people do things and for what reasons, and to figure out the motivation behind why people do certain things. I think it would be cool to go in-depth on those things.”
In the meantime, Gbenjo continues to embrace his love for the stage by keeping busy at his church in Reno. Gbenjo plays the drums and piano for the church band and he looks forward to the opportunity to display his talents on the east coast, whether it be through theater, television, film or commercials. He added higher education will factor heavily into his life on the east coast as he plans to obtain his Master’s Degree in clinical psychology.