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How Scream Star Jasmin Savoy-Brown Queers up a Slasher Classic

How ‘Scream’ Star Jasmin Savoy-Brown Queers up a Slasher Classic

How ‘Scream’ Star Jasmin Savoy-Brown Queers up a Slasher Classic
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

The out actor makes queer history with her role as the out horror expert Mindy Meeks-Martin in the new Scream — and she’s just getting started. 

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Jasmin Savoy-Brown is the moment.

From her breakout role in the excellent Yellowjackets to her hypnotic performance in the indie horror film The Sound of Violence, she’s been chilling and thrilling audiences with a taste for the macabre all year. Now she’s ready to take the mainstream by storm with her performance in Scream, the fifth entry in the wildly popular slasher series that has reentered the zeitgeist and is ready to slash into the box office this Friday. Best of all, both she and her character, Mindy Meeks-Martin, are openly and unapologetically queer.

You might say, Savoy-Brown is really killing it. 

This latest entry picks up 25 years after the original Woodsboro massacre when a new killer dons the Ghostface mask and goes on a killing spree, targeting a group of teenagers and resurrecting secrets the town would rather keep buried. While the regulars — Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) — return to put a stop to Ghostface’s reign of terror, the film also introduces a new generation of characters who find themselves in the killer’s crosshairs, including Savoy-Brown’s Mindy, the resident horror buff who’s best equipped to understand the rules of the game that she and her friends have been drafted into playing.

Jasmin Savoy-Brown in Scream

Mindy is essentially taking up the horror expert mantle left in wake of Randy’s (Jamie Kennedy) untimely demise in Scream 2. Savoy-Brown says she wasn’t intimidated by filling those shoes, in part because she went into the role fresh without preconceived notions about her character. “I wasn’t very familiar with the Scream franchise prior to being cast,” she admits to PRIDE. “Which I think is actually a good thing. I think if I had known, I would have done too much. I would have tried too hard and it probably would have dispelled or squashed the similarities that my Mindy shares with Randy. I think there was just an essence there that we both captured.” 

However, there was one person who did manage to intimidate Savoy-Brown on set: Ghost​​face himself. “It’s spooky. It just sends a shiver down your spine. Simply just being at the craft table, grabbing a sandwich, grabbing my coffee, and then here walks [Ghostface],” she laughs. “It’s just scary and then every time I leave work, like walking to my car, it’s just a little bit like, ‘oh is someone going to jump out and stab me?’ I’d like run to my car as fast as I can.”

Ghostface in Scream

Not only can horror give you those little thrills, but it’s also a great medium for political and social discourse, something the Scream franchise has always thrived on. It’s long been a reflection of (and in conversation with) pop and political culture, and that continues to be true for its latest entry. One way that manifests is in how the film addresses diversity and inclusion.

The addition of Mindy pushes Scream’s tradition of cheeky subtext out of the shadows — or closet, in this case — and makes it text. “I love that Mindy is a queer woman of color just like myself,” Savoy-Brown says, but she’s quick to add an important caveat that it also doesn’t tokenize her queerness. “What I love about that in this film is that there’s no focus on that. That’s just who she is. It’s not a part of her personality. It’s not a part of her storyline...and I want to see more representation like that on-screen with queer characters, fully-fledged human beings who just happened to be queer.” 

It’s all in keeping with Savoy-Brown’s assessment that Mindy is Gen Z. “ And by that I mean she’s queer,” says Savoy-Brown. “Gen Z is a lot more comfortably-out in their queerness. Mindy is a mixed-race woman of color... she’s very tech-savvy. She’s very of the moment and is very smart. I think Gen Z is going to save us all,” she says, adding, “Please save us all,” with a laugh.

Perhaps those are some of the reasons why Savoy-Brown has returned to the horror genre so often in her career. But the actor adds that the genre has also offered her opportunities for self-discovery. “I’m a four on the Enneagram. So I’m very comfortable with darkness and deep emotions,” explains Savoy-Brown. “[Fours] have a lot of feelings and we like to explore them and apparently exploring that darkness in art is really good for me.”

Mindy Meeks poster

As longtime LGBTQ+ fans of Scream already know, there’s always been a queerness to the series just bubbling just below its surface. If there was ever any question, it was put to bed when the franchise’s out creator, Kevin Williamson, confirmed that Scream has been “coded in queer survival” from its inception. There’s also something “inherently queer” about the horror genre itself, Savoy-Brown says, which also explains why Scream resonates with LGBTQ+ audiences.

“Queer really means to be different, right? And often, the characters in horror films are the outsider or a little bit different,” explains Savoy-Brown. But it’s also about the drama, she adds with a laugh. “Gays love drama,” she admits. “It’s just fun. And we like to have fun.” And she has high hopes for what queer audiences will take away from this film. “I hope that they see themselves in the film and that they feel celebrated and see all of themselves, not just one piece,” she says.

If that proves to be true, answering Ghostface’s eternal question — “what’s your favorite scary movie?” — just got a whole lot easier. 

Scream opens in theaters Friday, January 14. Watch the trailer below.

 

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Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.