An Interview with Benni Cinkle, the Unsung Hero of ‘Friday’
A legend in its own time, the “Friday” video is most closely associated with Rebecca Black, its star and raison d’être. But the deluge of publicity surrounding the viral tune hasn’t been limited to Black alone; the girl who sits to her right in the car and wears pink is also becoming something of an Internet celeb. Benni Cinkle is the star of many an animated GIF, and I stumbled upon her website the other night on a friend’s Facebook wall. She also has a Tumblr and about 5,000 more Twitter followers than I have. After about 12 emails with her PR team and manager and three or four phone calls, I finally got the California eighth grader on the phone.
It seems like you’ve got all this Internet mojo now. I was looking at your website and your Tumblr. Whose idea was it to make those? My Tumblr first came about because when I went to school, people were telling me my face was on their dashboard, and they told me to make a Tumblr. And so I made one, and I got help starting it. And there were actually a lot of people who were reblogging my face and the picture of me dancing. We made a Facebook and a Twitter, and then we made the website because we just wanted a place for people to come and donate when I did my dance for Japan.
How many Tumblr followers do you have? I have just under 40,000.
That’s a lot! On to the “Friday” video: Were you and Rebecca Black friends before filming it? Yeah, she emailed her friends and asked us to be in the video.
So all the kids in the video are friends from school? Yeah.
Tell me about the shoot. We did it in just one day. We got to her house at 10 in the morning and shot the whole thing in one day. We finished around 8 o’clock.
Did you have fun? Yeah it was a lot of fun. If it wasn’t our scene we would just hang out in her backyard and talk. It was as if we were just hanging out, except every once in a while we’d have to go shoot a scene.
What was your favorite part of shooting? I think it was watching the other people do their scenes, because they kept messing up and had to do it over and over. [Laughs] I just liked watching them mess up, I guess. It was funny.
Are you and Rebecca still friends? We don’t talk as much anymore. Especially now because she dropped out of our school and she’s getting homeschooled. So I don’t really talk to her anymore.
But you’re still in school, right? Yeah, I’m still in school.
How did the kids at school react to the video? They were talking about if for the first week after it hit, and they would sing it to Rebecca and bring it up whenever they were talking to her. But now it’s kind of died down. I only hear it from a few kids I don’t really know. Like, that’s the only way that they know me. So every time I walk by them it’s like, “Oh you’re the Friday girl!” and I’m like yeah, you’ve known that for like a month now. It doesn’t bother me.
You’re very famous for your dance moves. What’s your favorite music to dance to? Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.
Are you a big Justin Bieber fan? Oh yeah, I’m a big Justin Bieber fan.
Do you think you’ll make your own video? Yeah, I’m actually recording a song soon that I wrote a while ago. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the website Six Billion Secrets? It’s where people post their deepest darkest secrets. And it make me cry because a lot of them were about child abuse, so I wrote a song about it. I showed my mom the song and she was like, “Wow, that’s really meaningful” and so now we’re going in to record it soon and there’s gonna be a video for it.
Will that be with the same people who made Rebecca’s video? No, I don’t think so.
So you’re doing it with a different company. Yeah, but we haven’t chosen a producer yet.
Do you want to be in show business when you grow up? Yeah, it’s always been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl that I wanted to be famous, that I wanted to be a singer. But I never really thought I would pursue that. Other than that I wanted to be a lawyer or psychiatrist. But now that this kinda hit, I’m taking on that dream that’s been in the back of my mind. I’m seeing where it will go.
What grade are you in now? Eighth? Yeah, I’m almost in high school.
That’s exciting. It’s scary!
What do you do for fun outside of school? I’m going to do volleyball in high school. I also paint a lot and take guitar lessons.
What’s your favorite day of the week? Oh my gosh, I get asked this a lot. You know honestly, my favorite day of the week is Saturday. I like Fridays but at school we have to run the mile on Fridays so that kind of brings it down.
That’s a bummer! In your FAQ on YouTube, you said that people on the Internet had asked you to marry them. What does that mean? Like on Facebook. I go through probably 3 or 4 husbands or wives a week. I told everyone I’d marry them all and i didn’t expect all these people to want to marry me! So now i have to keep my promise.
What’s the biggest way your life has changed since this video? Probably just that my schedule has been changed. When I come home from school, I go online and get on my Twitter, my Tumblr, my Facebook, and I talk to everyone. I didn’t used to have to do that. I used to go on Facebook and Twitter just because I wanted to, and I still want to, but now it’s more of a priority.
What do your parents think of all this? They support me. They’re really supportive of the things I’m doing. They help me when there’s something I don’t know how to respond to – they help me develop a response to something. I can’t stress enough how supportive they are.
Do you ever want to go back to the way things were before “Friday”? Not really. I really love going online and it’s so nice to feel all this love and I know a lot of people don’t have that, they don’t have people who love them. There are kids out there who don’t have a lot of love. I feel so grateful.