Anyone can see Jasmin Savoy Brown’s star is steadily on the rise after her breakthrough performance on the critically acclaimed HBO series “The Leftovers” she continues to evolve her craft and live boldly in her own skin. More than an actor; she’s outspoken, authentic, unapologetic, and wise. Get to know Jasmin Savoy Brown, she’s not going anywhere but up!
You play the lawyer Allison Adams in the second season of Shonda Rhimes ABC courtroom drama “For the People”. Tell me about how the role of ‘Allison Adams’ came around for you?
Jasmin Savoy Brown: “For The People” follows six young lawyers, three public defenders (myself included) and three prosecutors, in the Southern District of New York as they navigate the political justice system and their personal lives.
How do you prepare for your roles, especially one that deals with endless details such as American law?
I approach every role a bit differently. I’ve been fortunate to play characters that differ vastly from one another, and I’m always at a new place in life when I start a new job, so I want to honor those changes by applying what I’ve learned to the new person I am creating.
For this show, there was and is a lot of research. Real lawyers go to law school for years and even once they are practicing, they are constantly upgrading their knowledge and skill set. So it would be impossible to acquire even a fraction of the knowledge of a real lawyer. That said, I do my best! Mainly I listen to podcasts, because that can be done while driving, which I do way too much of living in Los Angeles! I also read articles and books and ask a lot of questions.
What’s it like working on a Shonda Rhimes series?
Working in Shondaland is wonderful. One thing I appreciate about her shows is the diversity behind the camera. Everyone knows Shondaland hires actors of all races, sexualities, genders etc., but the diversity behind the cameras isn’t common knowledge.
I have never been on a set with a more female crew than “For The People” and I do not take that for granted. From grips to camera operators, women can be found in every department and it makes me feel safer and more at home on set.Jasmin Savoy Brown on Shonda Rhimes unique diversity and willingness to hire women in every department in Shondaland Productions.
Raised in Springfield, Oregon, how was your childhood and when did you know you wanted to be an actor?
Growing up in Springfield, Oregon was both a blessing and a curse. I think any kid who grows up in a place with such an abundance of outdoor activities is lucky – we never wanted for entertainment; we were climbing trees, fishing, swimming, camping etc. constantly – but at the same time, Oregon is a very white (Caucasian) state. The lack of exposure to different types of people was hard on me and not a reflection of the real world at all.
I always wanted to be an actor. I was performing for strangers at the grocery store for as long as I could remember. Though, I made the conscious decision that acting would be my career at age eight, while watching a live stage production of “The Music Man.”
In your personal life what have you had to overcome that’s played a major role in who you are today as a person and actor?
What a great question, albeit tricky. I’d say I’m still overcoming things every single day. Being alive is hard. We see all this #blessed #bestlife crap online every day, but life is not always that lovely. Some days are hard. Some weeks are hard. Some years are just terrible! And that’s okay. Learning how to accept the bad and never take the good for granted are skills that I think take many years to acquire. With that in mind… I’d say one thing I’ve had to overcome is my fear of letting people down. It is simply impossible to keep everyone else happy, AND keep yourself happy.
Sometimes you’re going to have to say no to someone, and it will make them sad or hurt their feelings or maybe they will decide they don’t like you anymore. And that is okay. Because you remained true to yourself, the only person at the end of the day who will always be with you, is you.
I’ve had to learn this lesson the hard way – saying yes to so many people over such long periods of time that I’ve fallen ill from exhaustion and overworking myself. I have learned to say no; and it’s been extremely freeing, in all areas of my life.
What did you take from playing Evie Murphy on the critically acclaimed HBO series “The Leftovers”?
Most importantly, I would say relationships. I met my partner Camille, one of my closest friends Violett Beane, my mentors Regina King and Kevin Carroll, and an abundance of other incredible people I am privileged to now call my friends. “The Leftovers” also offered me a chance to travel the world – season 2 was filmed in Austin, Texas and season 3 was filmed around Australia. Specifically to Evie though, I learned that despite life sometimes being hard, it doesn’t have to be so heavy. And to keep my loved ones close.
You seem so comfortable in your own skin, where did this come from?
Years of NOT being comfortable in my own skin! The truth is, I’m not always. There are certain people or places that will make me feel self-conscious or uncomfortable in my own skin probably for the rest of my life. But generally speaking, I think learning to celebrate who you are and enjoying the skin you are in, comes with time. It’s about learning how to only absorb the positive. People will always say hurtful things, but learning how to ignore the hurtful things and move past them, is when feeling comfortable inside yourself really starts to happen!
As a mixed-race woman of color, women’s activist and a LGBTQ voice; why is it important to use your platform to fight for equality?
You said it all right there. As a mixed-race-queer-woman-of-color, I understand oppression. Deeply. Viscerally. I understand what it means to be silenced, tossed to the side, ignored, forgotten. I’ve experienced differing levels of inequality all of my life.
But now, I have the privilege of a platform. Thanks in small part to social media, and in large part to all of the women (and men) fighting for equality and social justice for so many years before me. People in minority groups are finally allowed space to speak for themselves. Yes, of course, people in more powerful positions still attempt to silence our voices, but it is hard to silence the voice of a celebrity. I have the platform and the ability to shout my truth and fight for justice and I wear that as both an honor and my highest responsibility.
What do you feel is the most unique quality about yourself?
I don’t think there’s anything unique about me. There are qualities about myself I’m proud of, such as being an incredible friend, being very giving with my time and resources, and never taking no for an answer in regards to what I am capable of. I’m sure a few of the other 7 billion people on the planet share those same qualities though!
I hear you also sing, and there’s an album in the works!? Can you please tell us about your music?
I don’t yet know how to describe my music! But I will tell you some of my favorite artists, and you can make assumptions as you see fit. Sara Bareilles, Janelle Monáe, Brandi Carlile, Paramore & Chance The Rapper. What I can tell you, is that a common theme in my music is feeling insane.
You’ve written an essay for Nylon on mental health, what’s your message to youth who are going through this, but don’t know how to get help?
“You are not crazy, and you are not alone.”
You are not crazy, and you are not alone. So many other people feel exactly the same way you feel, (or similar at least) and they are faking happy just like you. Reach out to a trusted adult in your life, whether that be a teacher or guidance counselor at school, sports coach, friend’s parent, or family member. You can also visit your local Planned Parenthood and speak to a nurse, or Google Mental Health Helplines that provide someone to speak with for free. There are numerous resources out there, but most importantly, remember you are not alone, and this feeling will pass. Feelings always pass.
Who inspires you the most creatively past and present?
Currently I am inspired by my friends. I am surrounded by so many talented, clever, lovely people. At this moment, I am specifically inspired by my friends who are musicians. Roshan Maloney, Kristen Gutoskie, Andy Allo, Liz Vice, and Brynn Elliott to name a few.
You’ve been open about your health and dealing with endometriosis. Why did you want to share your personal health experiences?
I didn’t know I had endometriosis until I opened up about my symptoms…
I am fortunate enough to have excellent health care and a network of people who love and support me. In other words, I have nothing to lose from sharing details about my experiences. And, I believe other women who may hear my story have everything to gain.
I didn’t know I had endometriosis until I opened up about my symptoms to other women in my life. I had been misdiagnosed or ignored by seven different medical professionals until a friend of mine looked me in the eye and diagnoses me herself. She then referred me to her specialist who validated the diagnosis, and I quickly went into surgery. American healthcare failed me, another woman saved me.
One in ten women have endometriosis, most are clueless they are living with a disease. It is my duty to help them discover that possibility and eventually seek the help they deserve.
What person or people in your life have helped you get to where you are that you want to give a special shoutout to and why?
Jasmin Savoy Brown Shoutouts:
- My cousin Kelli for always believing in me.
- My best friend Matthew for always keeping me grounded.
- My cat Smoky for being in my life 17 years and counting!
What advice would you give youth who want to venture into the entertainment industry?
- Your goal should always be to have fun. If you stop having fun, consider taking a break for awhile.
- Listen to your parent(s) or legal guardian. Trust them. Sometimes they know things you don’t know, so if they tell you no about a class or an audition, trust them and move on.
- Take classes! Classes are not only a great way to learn about acting, but a great way to make friends.
- Never pay an agent or manager upfront. If they try to charge you before you’ve booked a job, they’re a scam!
Always be yourself!
Special write-in questions from aspiring Youth Journalist:
Luke G., 8 -AZ: Why are you an actor?
I am actor because I love using my imagination and I love telling stories. I’ve always been a creative person, and being an actor allows me to be creative every day while telling important stories that people need to hear!
Anya J., 12 – WA: How did you get your hair to be so pretty?
First of all, thank you! Second of all – years of practice. The main thing is keeping her (my hair is a girl) moisturized. That means only washing her once or twice a week, and sleeping in my hair bonnet. I also avoid straightening and relaxing my hair unless absolutely necessary. If I want a straight hair look, I’ll opt for a wig instead of a hair straightener.