Sometimes, the stars align perfectly for a show to become a sizzling sensation. The combo of sharp dialogue, a stellar cast, captivating cinematography, and an enthralling story all come together at the optimal time to create a highly entertaining masterpiece. Such is the case with Yellowjackets, which buzzed in at the end of 2021 and caught like wildfire on social media. The show’s creative team and cast didn’t have the foundation of a franchise nor a book series for a built-in fanbase. So, their success feels all the more sweeter. Just ask Jasmin Savoy Brown.
She is flying high and establishing herself as an actress to watch with her leading Yellowjackets role as Tai, a pragmatic ‘90s teen with a determination to win, survive, and thrive, as well as a recent stint in Scream (2022), portraying Mindy, Randy Meeks’ horror geek niece. Nerdist caught up with Jasmin Savoy Brown to talk about Tai losing her identity, queer love, her Yellowjackets season two hopes, and what she geeks out about.
Nerdist: Yellowjackets season one tackles themes of evolving, breaking away from society, and releasing who we think we should be to really discover ourselves. What do you think Tai has learned so far?
Jasmin Savoy Brown: Tai has definitely learned that her identity is not what she thought it was. To get specific, a lot of her identity had to do with her hair. And that was really important to me [as a Black woman]. That’s why she wrapped [her hair] every night. She kept her wash day routine the best she could. Even when she’s sneaking for a little make out in the water, she keeps her hair wrapped. And then when she goes on that excursion to try to save everyone, she cuts it off. To her, it was practicality but I think subconsciously there was more going on there of shedding the identity attached to society.
You can see this in other ways she presents, too. I made sure she always had her jewelry on. And in the wolf attack, somehow those pieces came off. In that moment, she lost all of her identity in terms of presenting to people with material things and her hair. And she also lost her identity as the leader because she failed and had to go back. And so, I think where we leave off with her is that she doesn’t know who she is anymore.
When did you realize that Yellowjackets was becoming “a thing?”
Truly, it was a few weeks ago. This is going to sound silly, but it’s speaking to my generation. I’m on the younger side of the millennials. It was when I started seeing all the memes. Specifically, there’s this account I follow called Godimsuchadyke. They post lesbian sh*t and made a meme of us. And I was like, “Oh my God!” Then Autostraddle and Nylon and all of these different platforms like Buzzfeed were making quizzes and stuff.
Those were the moments where I went, ‘Okay. We’re part of pop culture. That is crazy.’ Because when you sign on to something new, it’s scary. You’re marrying something. A standard contract in the US for a show is seven seasons. So you’re literally giving yourself to something for potentially seven years going, ‘I hope this is good. What if it sucks?’ And we are fortunate that it’s good and people like it and we get to go shoot it again.
Fans really love Tai and Van’s relationship on Yellowjackets. Outside of healthy queer representation, which always matters, why do you think the fandom has gravitated towards their romance?
Their relationship is healthy and fun. It’s a bit of respite from the darkness of the show. For Tai, she gets to be light and goofy and chill with Van. She sees her girlfriend and melts in the cutest way.
Which Yellowjackets character are you most like in real life and which one do you wish you were more like?
Oh, I’m definitely most like Tai. I’m way too serious. I talk about the Enneagram a lot and I’m a 4w3 while she’s a 3w2. So we both share this three and four energy. Similar to Tai, I’m also an Aries [sun] and a Scorpio rising, but I have a Cancer moon. So I’m just all this grrrr but when I’m alone with someone I love I’m a little b*tch, you know what I mean? Just like her.
And the character I wish I was more like is Natalie. She’s just such a badass and practical but passionate. I just think that Sophie Thatcher and Juliette [Lewis] do a beautiful job. God, every time I see Sophie Thatcher’s Natalie on screen I am emotional because the writers did such a beautiful job of capturing this person who was so pure and loving and had a terrible home life but has this big heart.
Let’s switch gears to Scream for a moment. Mindy is such an interesting character because we really don’t get a chance to see a Black girl horror geek. I know you’re not a big horror fan, but what do you geek out about?
I geek out about the Enneagram. And I geek out about Broadway. I’m a big Broadway fan. I try to go to New York twice a year and just see as many shows as I can. That’s the thing I will drop money for, is to be front row at a Broadway show. Taking in good theater. I just especially love a good Black play. I saw Passover recently and oh, it was so good. It was two Black men and this white guy. I just love seeing black people just kill text, just monologue, monologue, monologue to a room full of rich white people who paid a lot of money to see them. That’s amazing. It’s my favorite.
Your talents extend far beyond acting. Your debut single, “Crash,” is awesome and you also co-host The Homo Schedule, a podcast with Liv Hewson, who portrays Van on Yellowjackets. What did you hope to accomplish with your podcast?
I want more queer joy out in the world! I want to talk to gay people who are happy and successful about what makes them happy and successful and tell some jokes and hear some incredible stories. There’s so much tragedy for gay people. And you know what? I just don’t want to participate in that if I don’t have to. Let’s spread queer joy.
What are your big hopes for Tai in Yellowjackets season two?
I would really like to explore more of younger Tai and Natalie’s relationship because Tai eventually paid for Natalie’s rehab. How did they become that close? We definitely need to see more Akilah (played by Keeya King). She’s not in it enough and Tai and Akilah do not interact enough as Black girls. That shit makes no sense. Those are my big asks. More scenes with Natalie and Akilah.
Can’t get enough of Yellowjackets, the indomitable Tai, and Jasmin Savoy Brown? Check out our post about her thoughts surrounding Tai’s connection to the wolf.