This is a message for the directors: turn your movie musical and comedy scripts over to Jasmin Savoy Brown. The modern scream queen wants to know: “Why the fuck do I keep playing these parts? I guess I’m good at it,” she says, “but I want to do some comedy. Or put me in as Jenna in [a movie of the musical] Waitress.”
It’s uncanny, almost, that Savoy Brown, 29, is ready to leave the horror sphere behind, even as she’s killing it. She’s currently seen battling through the wilderness in Showtime’s Yellowjackets and is set to co-star with Tatiana Maslany in Josh Ruben’s horror film Green Bank. The young actress just gleefully returned for her second appearance in the Scream franchise as Mindy Meeks-Martin, the guts-and-gore-obsessed twin of Mason Gooding’s Chad.
Savoy Brown wasn’t dreaming about starring in horror films in her youth. The California native made up songs in the grocery store and did a lot of musical theater (we spent more than a moment gushing over her favorite musicals, including Memphis, In The Heights, and Come From Away). And while she’s loved being part of Scream—“All three options in a Scream movie are solid. You either die, and it’s going to be an epic death. You survive, and that’s amazing, or you’re the killer. So, no matter which hand I’m dealt, every time I’m happy”—she has critiques for the genre. “I was never interested in horror because it was just so straight and white,” she says. “That’s just not interesting to me, aside from my one white woman show a year, which was Big Little Lies and then The White Lotus.”
Her character in Scream VI pushes backs on the tropes. Mindy is the first queer role in the franchise, and in the most recent installment, she and her girlfriend Anika have become fan favorites. “Mindy’s queerness has nothing to do with her character arc, and no one cares. It’s such a big deal, because it’s not a big deal at all,” Savoy Brown says. “I love the idea that some people who would not normally interact with a character like myself are now meeting Mindy in that franchise and hopefully in a way that is pleasant for them.”
Savoy Brown also plays a Black lesbian, young Taissa Turner, in Yellowjackets. The significance of that representation is not lost on her, especially as both her most prominent characters share identities she owns. “It’s allowed me the space to not have to hide, even psychologically,” she says. “There is something to be said for taking up space in your workplace as all that you are.”
Currently in its second season, Yellowjackets crashed Showtime with its premiere episode and set record-breaking numbers for the network. The series is set in two timelines: the past, where a high school soccer team’s plane to the national tournament crashes in the Canadian wilderness, and the present, years after the disaster where the events in the wild begin to haunt the remaining survivors. The first season had audiences playing a “did they or didn’t they?” game, as the older version of Savoy Brown’s character (played by Tawny Cypress), ran for public office and was accused of cannibalizing a teammate those years ago.
In season 2, the show gets bloodier and gorier. Audiences—spoiler alert—finally find out a piece of what really happened in those woods. The girls do eat their teammate, Jackie, who died from extreme cold at the end of the first season. While filming the scene, many of the actresses threw up.
Throughout the whole series, the actors are confronted with intense or psychologically damaging situations. To help them film the hardest moments, the show had an on-set intimacy coordinator. “It is a mindfuck to ‘eat’ a person,” Savoy Brown says of filming the nauseating moment, revealing the “flesh” they consumed was actually jackfruit stuffed inside a body-like figure. “If someone got an upset stomach, we’d make fun of them, but then go see if they were okay. But I will never eat jackfruit again.”
Whether it be her costars, family, friends, or queer comrades, community is at the heart of Savoy Brown’s being. She only has gushing words for her castmates, and spends time talking about how Scream’s Courtney Cox has become a close friend. Her dad was a musician in Philadelphia and gave her a passion for music, something she’s grateful for. She’s released a few singles and plans to release more. Her friend Lucy Dacus has shown her the music world and asked her to star in her recent music video for “Night Shift.” Her Los Angeles supporters helped her with self-tapes and acting workshops. She credits Academy Award winner Regina King, her co-star in The Leftovers, as a major mentor. “She’s just the best person you’ll ever meet,” Savoy Brown says.
As we talk on Zoom, she prioritizes her people once more. She’s currently long-distance with her girlfriend, a relationship she hard-launched on Instagram weeks after our call. Her girlfriend has COVID-19, and Savoy Brown pauses our talk to make sure her gift of get-well-soon dumplings was received. “Community is more important than anything,” she declares, “and having people you can call to send you dumplings when you have COVID.”
Hair by Vernon François for Redken; makeup by Karo Kangas for Westman Atelier; produced by Rhianna Rule.
A version of this story appears in the May 2023 issue of ELLE.
Samuel is the Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief at ELLE Magazine. His interests include music, theater, books, video games, and anything to do with Taylor Swift. He famously broke both his arms at the same time in fourth grade.