As you may know, February is “Women in Horror” month. To celebrate, PromoteHorror.com asked women from different professions if they would like to answer some questions about being a “Woman in Horror.” One of the women, who was kind enough to answer our questions, was the awesome writer Jessica Rose. Lets see what she said about being a “Woman in Horror”…
-PH: When did you first become a horror fan?
-Jessica: I know the exact moment. I can still remember the first time I saw Halloween as if it were something that happened just this morning. I was in Florida in my grandmother’s car. The air was oddly hot outside, but the inside was ice cold. I remember the leather smell of the interior and the weird way it rained on one side of the road, but not the other. I can even remember running my fingers along the thick thread lining of the seats as my mom and my grandmother talked about a really scary movie they’d let me watch when we got back to the house. I felt something inside me, this flutter, that was so new and exciting. I didn’t get that feeling the first time my dad had me watch Animal House or when my mom and I first sat down to watch Steel Magnolias. I got that feeling when I heard about Halloween though, and I still get it before I watch any horror movie, no matter what it is.
-PH: Was there a specific moment when you realized that you wanted to go from being a fan of horror to a woman who contributes to the genre, or did it just kind of happen naturally?
-Jessica: Being such a lifelong fan, I always wished I could do something within the genre but never felt like I had the right outlet. Where I live, horror is not a particular niche so I’ve always just found myself keeping interest on a more personal level. Just a few years ago, I went through what would be some of the hardest, but most important changes of my life. A very unexpected divorce effected me every which way it could. It was something that felt like the end of the world, but wound up strengthening almost every part of my life. I moved twice and left the job I had since I graduated college, which was one I loved out of comfort and stability, but not anything I had a passion for. I decided to stop making decisions for two and start making decisions for one, finding a voice with Nightmare On Film Street. They were a newer podcast I had been listening to and when I saw they were looking for writers, I went for it and I will always be grateful that Jon and Kim gave me that chance. I loved to write, but had no real experience. Just after publishing a few news articles and editorials as well as interacting with the other writers and finding like-minded fans, who would become friends, I was finally doing something that I enjoyed and loved doing. I had finally found a space to express my love for horror and contribute to others. Since then, I can’t even begin to share how meaningful and important it has been to my life. Through all the emotions that come with divorce, moving, and changes big and small, my writings for the site and eventual discovery of the online community helped me find my voice in something I wanted to be part of. Most importantly, it helped me find myself.
-PH: Since you’ve become a horror fan and woman in horror, have you always had the support of friends and family or did you have some explaining to do?
-Jessica: I am very fortunate that my family and friends have always been supportive of my interests, no matter how “different” they may seem. I know many others don’t have that kind of acceptance, so I always remember to appreciate it. Horror fans are always going to carry a stigma around, but I am very lucky when it comes to my family and friends. My two younger sisters like scary stuff just as much as I do, so I’ve never really been alone in my love for horror. I am very lucky.
-PH: What does having a “Women in Horror” month mean to you?
-Jessica: Having something like a “Women in Horror” month is all about recognition. It’s a time to highlight the many voices of women in film that may fly under the radar or go unnoticed completely. It’s a month meant to spotlight one of the many diverse factors of the genre. “Women in Horror” month means celebrating representation.
-PH: Is there a woman in horror who you consider a role model? How have they effected your life in and outside of horror?
-Jessica: I would name just one, but I’m very happy to say that there have been countless women that inspired me along the way and continue to inspire me to this day. From star leads to the accounts I follow on Twitter, the genre is made up of so many creative, intelligent, talented, strong, and relatable women. All encourage me to carry myself with an equal level of confidence, which allows me to continuously improve as a woman and as an individual.
-PH: How do you think the role of women in horror has changed since you got involved in horror? Have you personally noticed a change from when you started?
-Jessica: What’s changed the most for me, now that I am more involved in the community, is that there is more exposure of the women behind the lens. For so long I would watch film actresses play out the narrative and put so much of my focus onto their performances, that I never really thought about the ones who write, produce, dress, cast, direct, etc. The genre has breached that glass barrier and has invited so many of us to meet the women that work behind the scenes, something that I think is just as valuable as the women we see onscreen. It was like being introduced to a whole new world of women that were relatable, because they were like me, or were different from me, which has helped me grow as a person in so many ways.
-PH: What do you think the future holds for women in horror?
-Jessica: There’s no telling what the future holds, but I can share what I’m hopeful to see in the future. Eventually we won’t have to advocate for women to be deemed as worthy creators. It won’t be so special or unique to see a woman writer or director find success. It will just be normal. Women have always had an active role in horror, they’re just now being exposed for existing beyond their looks and screaming range. The future is bright with growing acceptance and ambition.
-PH: This is Women in Horror Month 11…how long do you think we will continue to celebrate this month before women get the recognition they deserve?
-Jessica: It’s very hard to measure recognition, but there are ways (I’m looking at you, Academy Awards). Women have not only taken on so many different roles over time, onscreen and behind the camera, but their value as contributors to films has an engaging level of awareness now. It sounds cliché to say “women have come a long way”, but they have and there’s only one direction to go from here. I say we keep it going for as long as women choose to create, produce, and entertain.
-PH: If you could serve a role in horror that you’ve never done, what would it be?
-Jessica: I’m an artist by nature, so I am extremely visual. In an alternate universe (or not so alternate, because there’s always time), I would have gotten myself into creating special effects. I am blown away by monsters and makeup, creating the gore and scares that captivate us as viewers. The people that turn the artificial into the believable are so talented. Aside from drawing and reading about the artists I admire, I’ve never dipped my brush into that world. Yet.
-PH: Who is your favorite final girl, and favorite female villain?
-Jessica: My decision on these characters will probably change every day! My favorite final girl has to be Sidney Prescott in Scream. Throughout the series, she’s been smart and tough. Her character constantly evolves and breaks the “final girl” rules along the way. She has always felt so real to me. Sidney is vulnerable and strong, empathetic, cautious, and capable of surviving when faced with both negativity, pressure, and real life horror. She’s not afraid to throw a punch or get the last word in.
My favorite female villain is tied between the Queen Xenomorph in Alien and Jennifer Check in Jennifer’s Body. I have to mention the Queen because the xenomorph is one of my absolute favorite horror icons of all time. She is a wicked force of nature and motherhood, a villain driven by primal instincts. Jennifer is another favorite simply because she is complex and misunderstood. She’s beautiful, but she’s also witty and intelligent. It’s a deadly combination. Despite the body count, I think she stands for something so much more than a possessed high school mean girl.
-PH: Being that this is PromoteHorror.com, please feel free to plug your current/next horror project.
-Jessica: I can be found on Instagram and Twitter at jayjayrose7. The link to my editorials, lists, reviews, and interview articles on Nightmare on Film Street is https://nofspodcast.com/author/jessica-r-vaccarelligmail-com/
I also provide reviews and interviews for the Modern Horrors podcast network site.
We would like to thank Jessica Rose for taking the time to answer our questions, but more importantly for her contribution to horror!