Fact incoming: “Nobody wants to watch straight people talk anymore!” This extremely correct statement hails from Jasmin Savoy Brown, one of pop culture’s most compelling new stars thanks to roles in Showtime’s survival drama Yellowjackets and Wes Craven’s lauded slasher series Scream. For her performance as Mindy Meeks in the latter’s fifth film, Brown made history as the first openly queer character to try and escape the terror of Ghostface.
As a “proud” Black woman of the LGBTQ+ experience, Brown tells GAY TIMES that her “favourite part” of being a performer is being able to “represent and interact with” her respective communities. “It means everything to me,” she says. “To be one of the lucky few that gets to debut something and be the beginning of the wave is really exciting.”
Brown reprises her role as Mindy in the forthcoming sixth film, which follows the predecessor’s surviving players as they relocate from Woodsboro to New York City, where they encounter one of the most brutal iterations of Ghostface to date. Also starring Courteney Cox, Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega, Hayden Panettiere, Mason Gooding, Dermot Mulroney and Samara Weaving, Scream 6 will ‘devastate and anger’ viewers, says Brown, while also continuing to explore her character’s resilience and queerness.
With the long-awaited sophomore season of Yellowjackets also scheduled to premiere in March, we met with Brown to discuss both projects, horror’s recent queer makeover and why LGBTQ+ people are – second and final fact incoming – “smarter, hotter and funnier”.
Jasmin, congratulations on all of your success over the past year with Yellowjackets and Scream. How does it feel to be involved with two major series that have developed such passionate followings, especially amongst the LGBTQ+ community?
That part. That’s my favourite part. I love to represent and interact with my communities. I’m really proud to be a queer woman, I’m really proud to be a Black woman and I’m very proud to be a queer Black woman. The fact that queer people love the projects that I’m involved with makes me so happy. It’s fun. We’re fun. Gays are fun, you know? It’s been a whirlwind. It’s pretty crazy and funny how life works because I’ve been doing this for 10 years now, and out of nowhere, it just clicked.
Gays being fun: that part. It’s madness that the industry is only just waking up in regards to LGBTQ+ representation because straights are painfully boring.
So boring. Nobody wants to watch straight people talk anymore! We’re getting there. We have a way to go but we are on the way, at least, and that’s exciting.
It’s the dream for any actor to be involved with a project that stands the test of time. Scream already has and Yellowjackets is one of the most acclaimed series of the decade…
Oh man, it’s such a gift and honour. You never know what’s going to hit. It’s really nice to be part of things that are of the moment, but also, you could watch in any decade and feel connected and be entertained and, hopefully, feel represented.
Let’s talk Scream 6. Besides her gorgeous new haircut, how has Mindy grown since we last saw her and how have the events of number five impacted her life?
First of all, thank you – that’s my hair and I appreciate it! That’s also thanks to Taissa. The group has of course been impacted by the events, but that’s brought them closer which is why they’re all living in New York, in the same city. They’re sticking together like a wolf pack. Mindy has only gotten smarter, if not more paranoid, but they all really look out for each other – even more so, having been through this drama. You will really see that on the screen.
Now that you’ve had time to reflect over the past year, what does it mean to you to play the first openly gay character in the Scream franchise?
It means everything to me. It’s like we were saying earlier, it’s a bummer that things have taken as long as they have in this industry. To be one of the lucky few that gets to debut something and be the beginning of the wave is really exciting. We have all been met with such open arms, but to be a queer person our whole community is like, ‘Oh my god, finally!’ It’s so fun and I’m really grateful for all of the art and the messages and the support. I’m really proud to represent that and I hope that I do a good job.
Horror is super gay, but the genre hasn’t been that welcoming of queer characters and storylines. That is shifting, hallelujah, so how does it feel to be part of that change?
Exciting. I co-produced the Shudder documentary Queer For Fear and there were some amazing people included such as Bryan Fuller and it talks about queerness in horror. It’s a celebration and a history. Like you said, horror has always been very queer and queer-coded, and it’s only recent that it’s starting to not be queer-coded because the characters are gay. They’re either gay and evil or gay and running or gay and sexy. Who cares, as long as they’re gay? It’s always exciting to be at the beginning of a wave, but then to see who comes after you and what creativity comes now that the door has been opened, essentially, is super exciting.
In Scream 5, Mindy wasn’t defined by her sexuality or treated any differently to the straight characters, which was refreshing. No spoilers of course, but what can you tell me about 6 and how it continues to explore her identity?
I think the haircut, for one! It’s a good indicator. Me and the Radio Silence guys, it’s a good team and we’re very interested in authenticity. So, Mindy’s relationship to her queerness and her in general, like with all the characters, will have a very natural and satisfying progression. I wish I could say more, but I promise you’ll be happy. You’ll be happy, and also not, because it’s Scream.
I’m always a mixture of excited and scared when I step into the cinema and watch a Scream film, because I know I’ll walk out of there devastated and angry at something…
Yeah! Devastated and angry? Just you wait… You’re gonna need to text me after, because I’m gonna need to know. DM me and tell me what you think, I’m not kidding.
I’ll be in your DMs, don’t worry. Historically, queer people have experienced more oppression and violence than cis-het people, so we’re armed in a different way. So do you think that in the world of horror, being queer is an asset?
That’s such a good question. Yes, totally. We’re also just smarter, hotter and funnier. There’s assets all around. But yeah, I think you’re right, queer people are hardwired to survive, hence why Mindy survives Scream 5.
Queer people have always loved horror because of all the powerful women, from Sidney Prescott to Laurie Strode and Ellen Ripley. Do you have a favourite Final Girl or badass female character across television and film?
Ooh. Okay, this is so random and I would not call her a Final Girl, although in a way she is, but I just thought of Jenna [Ortega]’s performance in The Fallout. It’s so incredible and Jenna is sensational. I think that popped into my head because I thought ‘in anything?’ and then I was picturing final frames in every TV show and film I’ve seen in the last year where there was a woman’s face. I then saw that low angle of Jenna – I don’t wanna spoil the movie, but that final frame haunts me. It’s high time that everyone is catching up to the fact that she is absolutely fucking brilliant. Jenna is such a good actress and if ya’ll like Wednesday – I mean, it’s a very different genre – watch her in The Fallout.
Has Jenna taught you the Wednesday dance?
I think she did do little bits of it! She mostly talks to us about what she wishes she could’ve done better. That’s the thing with Jenna, which I respect, but also I’m like, ‘Girl, just take a beat and enjoy what you did. Let it go, you’re amazing, you’re better than everyone here on this set right now.’ No offence everyone, but we all know Jenna is the best.
As well as Jenna, you work with some legends in this film from Courteney Cox to Hayden Panettiere, who returns after 11 years as Kirby. How excited were you for her comeback?
I was stoked! I grew up watching Hayden in Heroes and I was so excited to meet her and work with her. Also, to meet Dermot [Mulroney] and to spend more time with Courteney, who I got a lot closer with on this film. She checks on me every couple of months and says, ‘HELLO?! What’s going on in your life? Give me an update.’ It was a lot of fun.
Before we part ways, I have to talk to you about Yellowjacket season two. Are you able to say anything?
Apparently, I must’ve had a shot before this interview because I’ve been quoted as saying, “The girls will eat.” It feels like quite a fucking spoiler. I’ve already said that, so I won’t say that again. It’s really… Oh my god, I keep saying to people, ‘You haven’t seen Yellowjackets yet.’ In season one, I always say Yellowjackets starts at episode six because that’s when – I can’t remember what happens in the adult timeline – Tai helps Shauna with her abortion and the tone changes. Yellowjackets begins with season two. You have seen nothing yet. You’re going to be really disturbed and upset. That’s all I can say about season two.
Jasmin, I loved Terrifier 2, so I love being disturbed and upset.
Well, you’re in the right place…
Scream 6 hits cinemas 8 March.
This interview features in the March 2023 edition of GAY TIMES Magazine. To read the full issue, click here.