FOX’s new show, Scream Queens, brought back campy, horror comedy to television, but more importantly it introduced us to new actress Jeanna Han, who plays Sam, the show’s resident Asian androgynous lesbian.
Written by Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story), it centers around the mysterious serial killings surrounding the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority and Han is one of the sorority’s newest pledges. While the role is her first acting gig, she definitely knows her way around a camera. The 28-year-old Korean American graduated from California State University-Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in radio/television/film. It wasn’t until a friend approached with her with the role that she decided to give acting a chance.
“I was doing stagehand work in Vegas the past year, but a friend of mine who lived in California, worked for [the show’s] casting director and read a description of Sam,” Han said. “She was like, ‘Physically, you’re perfect for her! Please audition.’”
The role specifically called for an androgynous-lesbian Asian, similar to Japanese-American model Jenny Shimizu.
With no prior acting experience, Han sent in a her audition tape and landed the role of Sam, who Emma Roberts’s queen bee character scathingly refers to as “Predatory Lez.”
For the California native, acting as Sam has given her the opportunity show viewers a diverse character. She said she’s honored to represent the Asian community on a major network, especially since her appearance isn’t exactly conventional.
“The way that I look is a lot different from other Asian-American actors. I feel like a lot of people are seeing that for the first time,” Han said. “Opening their eyes to that is pretty neat.”
Not only does Han get the chance to represent Asian Americans, she also is able to give visibility to the LGBT community. Han feels that it’s not often that audiences see a lesbian character with an androgynous look.
“I feel like with, especially with the LGBT scene on TV, you either see hyper sexualized, very feminine women or you see the super butch type. I feel like I’m riding right on the androgynous line, like right in the middle,” Han said. “I like being that role model, I guess, for those that haven’t had representation on TV yet.”
While Asian and LGBT actors in Hollywood tend to typecast into typical roles, Han said she has no worries of her character playing into some stereotypes. She understands the show has a satirical edge to each of its characters.
“It kind of goes with the show, you know what I mean? There’s so many different, cliché groups of people in college, so I was expecting the characters to kind of be that way,” she said. “[The writers] are doing it on purpose. They’re jabbing fun at all the different stereotypes.”
Despite being a shy person, Han said she hopes to further her career in Hollywood and represent both Asian Americans and LGBT people in media.
“I would love to continue to act, whether it be modeling or commercials, but I wouldn’t mind going back to do production either,” Han said. “I mean, that was my first love. Both sides are a lot fun and I’m glad I can actually get to see that.”
While her character Sam is slated to develop through the upcoming episodes, Han was unable to comment on whether her character will be playing bigger part in the show’s storyline.
Tune into FOX on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST to see if Jeanna Han’s Sam will live to see the next season!