Jasmin Savoy Brown is joining a pretty exclusive club.
The 27-year-old actress’ name is now added to the tragically short list of badass Black women taking the lead in horror movies. We all know the old slasher trope: if there’s even a Black character around at all, they’re 1. most likely not a woman and 2. sure to get clipped by the killer before the opening credits are even completed.
But Brown is breaking form with her role in the new 2022 soft reboot/semi-sequel of Scream; the Wes Craven-directed slasher franchise that revolutionized the horror genre, turning expectations on their heads with a meta approach and a smart, self-aware script.
Brown joins the iconic series as Mindy, the spiritual replacement of the original franchise’s character Randy. Much like her white male predecessor, Mindy is a horror film fanatic, knowledgeable, smart, and snarky, able to spot the patterns and pinpoint the rules the killer may be following to keep herself and her friends (mostly) alive.
“It’s a huge honor,” she says of the opportunity to join the iconic horror franchise. “I didn’t understand when I first joined what the legacy was or how big of a deal it was because I wasn’t raised on the movie like a lot of my castmates were. I was a bit embarrassed to admit that. But over the course of filming, I watched all of the films and dug into the history and quickly realized, ‘Oh shoot, this is a really big deal!’”
That big deal is made even bigger by the groundbreaking nature of Brown’s mere presence in the film. Not only is Mindy a rare Black character in the franchise, but, inspired by Brown herself, she is also the first queer character in a Scream movie.
“The character I play is queer, as am I. So, to get to play a queer woman of color on screen who is breaking so many stereotypes is, I think, pretty iconic,” she says. Though the Black LGBTQIA+ representation included in the film is undoubtedly a positive shift, the biggest shift lies in the fact that it’s not treated as such.
“What’s iconic about it is that it’s not a thing,” Brown continued. “All of these pieces of her identity – her Blackness, her queerness – that isn’t what her character is. That’s not her whole personality. It’s just a part of who she is.”
The film’s directors even looked to Brown to inform her character, rather than telling the actress, who lives her own Black queer experience daily, how the character should react or behave.
“Specifically as a queer woman of color, it was really important to have very specific things tweaked a little bit, and they welcomed that just enthusiastically,” she said in a statement.
In the 2022 update, a new killer dons the Ghostface costume and terrorizes the kids of Woodsboro 25 years after the initial rash of brutal murders, resurrecting secrets from the quiet town’s deadly past.
Naturally, there are some brutally bloody scenes in this new iteration of the classic horror. While that’s surely music to any true horror fan’s ears, it was a bit uncomfortable for the super-squeamish Brown.
“I do not like blood, I don’t like watching people being stabbed. That’s not for me so I don’t know what to tell you,” she laughed.
So, how was she able to cope on a horror set with gallons of “blood” spilled on a regular basis? For Brown, the technical aspect of it all kept her heebie-jeebies at bay.
“It’s easier on set than it is watching it [on screen] because on set, there are the machines and the tube hooked up to the thing that pumps out the blood when the person gets stabbed, and it’s technical and I can see that it’s fake,” she says. “But in the movies, they do such a good job editing it together, I can’t event watch a lot of the scenes in our movie. I have to go turn my head away because it’s just too good. There are good kills in this movie.”
Between Brown’s appearance in Scream and her role as Taissa in the instant cult classic psychological drama Showtime series Yellowjackets, the actress has speent the last year and a half doing her fair share of screaming on-screen. But, she was still able to take in some expert advice from the film franchise’s originators and co-stars Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox.
“I think their main advice was to have fun and to honor the legacy of Wes [Craven] and the legacy of the franchise, and all of us took that very seriously,” she said. “I believe that he would be proud of the film we made.”