At this cultural crash sight of a moment, Jasmin Savoy Brown is arguably best known for going full HAM on a wolf who dared to attack her girlfriend—after she and the rest of her high school soccer team became stranded in the Canadian Rockies—on the hit Showtime series Yellowjackets.
Brown opened 2022 breathing unabashedly queer life to the latest Scream film as Mindy Meeks-Martin and now cresting the Yellowjackets first season finale, which leaves many of us metaphorically starved in the Canadian Rockies for content from the show’s multi-talented cast, Brown just released a music video for her new single “Orange Wine” from her upcoming EP East LA.
The moment she now finds herself in has been a long-time coming. After spending much of her youth in Springfield, OR, she got her start in acting in Portland, showing up as an extra in the locally shot 2012 short film Off Day and an episode of the fantasy television series Grimm in 2013.
For Brown, making an appearance on Grimm was a big first. She played a character who discovers a dead body after blood drips onto her from up in a tree.
“My family actually just pulled that footage back up recently and were like ‘was this how you learned how to scream? From doing Grimm?’” Brown said. “I’ve never been a big fan of watching my work in general, but with that stuff, I’m like ‘oh I was a baby.’ I’ve grown a lot as a person and an actor. It is kind of nice to see how far I’ve come.”
Brown’s big breakout role came with the second season of HBO’s soul-shattering series The Leftovers where she played the mysterious Evie. Her performance and the show itself are all about grappling with the profound impact of living through an event where two percent of the world’s population is now gone.
“That was the next one that really put me on the map and it was quite a jump from Grimm,” Brown recounted.
The Leftovers has only gained newfound resonance with our own current ongoing mass casualty event. For her part, it was Brown’s ability to steal every scene she got in, including in a particular moment on a bridge in the season finale alongside Regina King who played her mother, that made her such a standout in the show.
“I am a very emotional, intuitive, dare I say at times dark, person. When I’m playing a role that checks those boxes it’s pretty easy for me to just go there,” Brown said.
“I am a very emotional, intuitive, dare I say at times dark, person. When I’m playing a role that checks those boxes it’s pretty easy for me to just go there,” Brown said. “A lot of the work that I’ve done on my acting has to do with body and breath. If I can get out of my head and just be fully present in a scene connected to my body then everything else just falls in place. When there is not a lot of dialogue, your only choice is to be fully connected to your body and your breath.”
This command of presence has extended to Brown’s most recent role as the younger version of Taissa in the show Yellowjackets. Much of the series is set in the remote wilderness of Canada where Taissa and the rest of her soccer team are stranded after their plane crashed on the way to Seattle for a national tournament.
Brown is a driving force in the show and commands many of the key scenes of character self-discovery. She credits her fellow cast members as collaborators in the magic, saying the show’s partial pandemic shoot schedule led to real life isolation and close bonds.
“In terms of building relationships, we were all stuck in a bubble together because when we were shooting in Canada the borders were still closed. We were pretty much forced to become good friends, but it was a pleasure,” Brown said. “Doing the work together, doing the scenes, it’s just a magical group. We’re all very goofy off-screen and then as soon as they yell action, everyone just gives it a hundred and goes for it.”
The show’s first season ended on a strong note though many unanswered questions remain, leaving Brown herself wonders where it will all go next.
“I don’t think it’s fair. I think I should get to know a little something,” Brown said, joking. “I am not lying to you when I say we know nothing. I am in the same boat as the fans.”
However, Brown did educate herself about where she would sit if she were in a plane when it crashed.
“I did research and the safest place to sit on the plane in case of a crash is the very back row in the middle. If you can’t sit there, just anywhere in the back third. So now I have flight anxiety, thanks Yellowjackets, and every time I’m flying I sit in the very back,” Brown said, laughing. “I think I would survive the crash, however, I have no survival skills whatsoever. I would probably die pretty quickly.”
Brown was recently nominated for The Queerties for her performances in both Yellowjackets and as Mindy in Scream. In both roles she plays unabashedly queer characters who fully embrace their sexuality.
Roles where a character’s queerness is not simply implied but made central are a rarity, both for Brown and mainstream storytelling in general.
“I have had roles in the past where when I was filming I was queer, but then they changed their mind later on in post,” Brown said. “Getting to play a queer character that I knew would remain queer in such an unabashed way, as you said, has been a dream but also no big deal to me because that is my life. I am fortunate enough to be able to be out and proud without worrying about severe consequences, sure there are some social consequences maybe online, but in my personal life, it’s all good.”
Brown said she hopes that there will be more roles like this in the future.
“Playing these roles doesn’t feel like a big deal to me, which I think is a big deal and speaks to the times. I’m hoping we see more and more characters that are written like Taissa and Mindy, in that they are just out and it’s no big deal. It’s not tragedy porn,” Brown said. “We got to see Taissa come out and come to terms with her queerness and it was met so beautifully by her peers. That is really special to me.”
There still are aspects that, Brown says, need improvement, primarily in her getting recognition for her work along with her co-stars.
“There still have been a few articles that have excluded me. I’ve not noticed ever being excluded for the queer reason, it’s usually being excluded on account of race,” Brown said. “It feels good to be getting more attention now and it also makes me laugh because I should have been given the same amount of respect before I happened to be on two hit projects.”
“I shouldn’t have to do more to get equal.”
It's hard to imagine Brown actually taking on more, considering that the morning of our interview was the release date of a music video for her new single "Orange Wine," from her upcoming EP East LA.
Brown wrote "Orange Wine" almost two years ago, along with several other songs, so she's been excited to finally see the tracks step out into the world—and into the ears of her fans.
“It’s been quite a long time coming. But Violett Beane, who directed the music video, is one of my best friends. The video came together very quickly,” Brown said. “It feels really good. Music is the thing that I feel the most precious about, the most scared of, the most vulnerable about, the most of me, more me than any of my characters. It's nice that people are enjoying and sharing the music.”