A new age of scream queens is upon us. The title, popularized in the 1980s by genre icons like Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens, lives on in today’s horror hits. Take Shawnee Smith, for example – a bona fide scream queen, having starred in the Saw series, and one who’ll be haunted again in The Grudge 3, coming out next year. Shawnee’s now passing on her expertise (or pain) to a new crop of would-be scream queens as the host of VH1’s Scream Queens reality series, which premiered last night. We caught up with Shawnee at, appropriately enough, this weekend’s 2008 Scream Awards. She was kind enough to bring three of her victims – I mean, contestants – along with her: the lovely Angela, Tanedra and Kylah!
Are you in this most recent Saw?
Shawnee: Not that I’m aware of.
You’re finding the next scream queen in your new reality show on VH1 – what’s it like to put other girls through their paces?
Shawnee: Are you kidding me? It’s great! There were so many moments during this shoot that I went, “That’s so great that that is not me.” They had to earn it like I had to earn it.
But it’s fun, right?
Shawnee: Yeah. I compare acting in horror movies to singing in a punk rock band. Balls to the wall, you’ve gotta go all the way. When you’re ready to turn yourself over to it, it’s fun. Like extreme sports, I guess. I don’t know – I don’t do extreme sports.
What is coming up for you?
Shawnee: I started a record label with my friend Missi Pyle [who has appeared in Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay and several episodes of Heroes]. We made a record called Smith & Pyle: It’s OK to Be Happy, and we are working on The Smith and Pyle Show. So that is where a lot of my attention is going, because it is just so much fun to do your own thing and work with people you love and admire.
What is your biggest fear?
Shawnee: Anything related to my children.
How many children do you have?
Shawnee: 45. You didn’t know I was having all those children in the midst of my acting career. No, I have two kids.
What are some of the things you guys are doing on Scream Queens?
Angela: Going through torture.
Tanedra: Every single day, from the time we get up until the time we go to bed.
Angela: But it was very, very fun.
What are your favorite horror movies?
Angela: Mine is probably Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Classic, awesome movie. And also 28 Weeks Later.
Tanedra: I am a fan of the Saw movies.
Angela: Suck up!
Kylah: Poltergeist. A classic.
What are your biggest fears?
Angela: I’m very claustrophobic. That is my biggest fear of them all. I don’t like being in tiny little spots.
Tanedra: Snakes. I do not do well with the reptiles.
Kylah: I think people scare me the most. Like creepy people, weird people.