Jeanna Han on playing an atypical lesbian character on “Scream Queens”

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Fox’s Scream Queens debuted last week, introducing us to out actor Jeanna Han, the androgynous gay Asian character named Sam (aka “Predatory Lez”) in action. We chatted with Jeanna about nabbing the role, getting buried alive for the two-hour series premiere and her connection with Jamie Lee Curtis.

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AfterEllen: So, have you been acting long?

Jeanna Han: No, actually, this is my first acting gig!

 

AE: Oh wow, congrats! How did you get into acting?

JH: Well, I actually went to school for production, so I got my BA in radio, TV and sound production, and I always wanted to be behind the scenes, not in front of the camera. This role kind of happened by chance. A friend of mine works for the casting director and she read the description of Sam and was like, “Oh my god, you are perfect for this. Please audition!” And I was like, “Okay, but I have no idea what I am doing.” And I actually almost didn’t audition because I am super shy and I was so nervous thinking there was no way they were going to choose me! [laughs]

 

AE: Did the part call for a butch Asian lesbian? Do you remember what exactly the sides said when you read the description?

JH: The description they were looking for was an androgynous Asian lesbian. Kind of like a young Jenny Shimizu type.

 

AE: And you fit the bill!

JH: Basically. [laughs]

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AE: What did you do when you first found out you got the part?

JH: Actually, it was crazy. I was living in Vegas at the moment and was working three to four jobs so I was scheduled to work and got a call from Richard Hicks, the casting director and he was like, “Okay, so you got it,” and said he would call me back with more info. And I said, “Oh, okay, well if I don’t answer its because I am going into work so just leave a message and I will call you right back.” And he was, “Oh no no. You need to tell them you can’t come in because we are putting you on a plane in a few hours.” Everything happened so quickly.

 

AE: So what was your experience like on set being the androgynous Asian lesbian?

JH: It was amazing. Everyone was so nice and made me feel so welcome. The funny thing though was when I showed up, the very first scene we have to be in our underwear! So, basically it was like,  “Welcome, now please take your clothes off.” [laughs]

 

AE: Oh man! What were you thinking? You mentioned you are shy, so what was going through your head at that moment?

JH: I was shaking the whole time and thinking I can’t believe I signed up for this! It was difficult in the beginning but it ended up being fine—but, man, was I nervous at first and I thinking to myself how I wished I would have worked out a little more. [laughs]

 

AE: I was cracking up while watching the premiere, so I an only imagine how funny it was to film some of the scenes! What were some of the funniest moments for you?

JH: What was really fun to see what they let some of the actors improv and change it up a bit so it was funny to watch them make up their own lines.

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AE: Did you ever improvise at all?

JH: [laughs] Um, no, I am not that good!

 

AE: But really was there one scene for you that you were just thinking I can’t believe this is happening?

JH: The funniest for me would probably be when we were all basically underground with our heads sticking out and the lawn mower coming after us. There were bugs crawling all over us and it was just crazy!

 

AE: Wait, were you actually in the ground?

JH: [Laughs] We were!

 

AE: So they had big holes dug and just said, “Everyone, get in the hole”? I don’t know what I thought was actually happening but I never imagined you were actually buried in the ground [laughs]

JH: Pretty much! And then they put these covers over us with just our heads sticking out and then put the dirt all around us. It was really creepy and I was just glad I wasn’t dying that way! [laughs]

 

AE:  So who were some of your favorite actors to work with? Was there one person in particular you connected with?

JH: Jamie Lee Curtis is amazing! She is hilarious and just very sweet. She also told us that people always mistake her for being a lesbian, which I thought was funny. She shared her experiences as an actor and when I told her this was my first role, she gave me some advice and she was just so cool to work with.

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AE: So do you see yourself continuing to act or will you go back to behind the scenes? Or maybe do both?

JH: I would love to keep acting! I was going to continue to do both if I can, it just depends on how things go with this before I determine my next step.

 

AE: Does your character have a love interest on the show? Or any kind of hook up?

JH: Sam is pretty much after any and all women but there is one in particular that she has a connection with. I’m not able to say exactly who, but in the next episode you’ll see who I have the most chemistry with. 



AE: There aren’t too many androgynous lesbian characters on TV right now and I was wondering if you have heard from other androgynous/butch lesbians since the show started? Such as fans, other actors, etc. If yes, what are some of the things they are saying to you?

JH: Yes, and the responses have all been positive thus far! It’s mainly with the fact that I’m an Asian androgynous woman on TV. Fans are elated with the fact that one, I’m not playing a dimwitted “fob” and two that I’m not portrayed as your typical Asian doctor, ninja, or prostitute. I’ve also gotten comments like, “It is so refreshing to see a real down-ass chick on the show” and “Thanks for reminding America that gaysians are cute.” [laughs] 

 

AE: How do you think your role fits into the greater show? Are you just used as a diversity tool or do you get more story as time goes on?

JH: There is a bit more character development as the show goes on, but as a whole, Sam is playing your token lesbian. It is stereotypical but it’s done on purpose as you can see with how all the other characters are written in on the show as well. The storyline is based around a sorority on a college campus so you’re bound to run into all the cliche groups of people. 

Follow Jeanna on Twitter (@jeannahan) and Instagram (@jeanna_cochina).