We chat with popular horror host, scream queen, writer, and Morbidly Beautiful contributor Jennifer Nangle about her killer career and so much more.
In just the last year, a new horror host arrived on the scene, and she’s taking the Internet world by storm. Malvolia, created by indie favorite Jennifer Nangle, is the Independent film world’s dark hostess with the mostess. She’s smart, sexy, funny and a little bit scary. She is called the Queen of Screams, after all. And she’s just getting bigger and bigger — hosting her own popular YouTube show and a slew of well received holiday specials, as well as an exclusive series of Morbid Minis for Morbidly Beautiful’s YouTube channel.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Jennifer Nangle about what inspired her, women in horror, her latest film Lilith, and of course her love of horror movies.
INTERVIEW WITH SCREAM QUEEN JENNIFER NANGLE
1. What made you want to be a part of Lilith?
I started 2017 off with a bang while launching “Malvolia: the Queen of Screams” and noticed that people were really embracing a strong, bad ass female character. I knew I wanted to continue seeking out these roles because I’m always seen as the “nice-girl” or “the best friend” or “young mom”. When there were rumors going around that “Lilith” was being made into a feature anthology, it was my best friend, actor/producer Charles Chudabala, who really pushed for me to be apart of the anthology.
After reading the script, I knew I was going to have fun, because I immediately noticed a shift in the script that would be a blast playing around with. Not to mention the power, the manipulation, the GAME that were all underlying in it. Then I heard Vernon Wells had signed on for it and how everyone was beyond excited for this! I had not seen any of Vernon’s work nor really followed his career, so I saw it also as a challenge to see if I could hold my own with a veteran actor who has worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest.
We shot it in one day and, though exhausting from the multiple scene changes, emotional highs and lows, make up changes, and being showered in blood (who am I kidding, I LOVED THAT PART), it was such a rewarding day! Not only did I get to really connect and have a lot of laughs with Vernon, I got to meet Mark Schaefer from AbsurdTV (whom I got to work with numerous times since then and am in a project with his daughters that is coming soon). I also met Thomas Haley, who I am currently in talks with about a couple things.
I really bonded with Choronix EFX who, not only has became my family, but are also my SFX team for Malvolia. I started off wanting to play a strong female where I could show off my talent and left with so much more than I had ever dreamed about! To Charles and Alex, I am forever grateful.
2. Since Lilith is an anthology, which was your favorite segment?
Well, besides mine, because I really had a great time playing off of Vernon and just playing a mean girl, I really love the first segment: “Young Love”. Not only does it contain some of my favorite, talented people, it just really, really draws you in! I’ve only been able to see it twice, but each of the actors are just on point. The story is a little bit out there, but I can easily go along for the ride. Well acted, well thought out, creatively edited. It definitely stands out on its own.
3. Your alter-ego, Malvolia, is a popular YouTube host. How did you create her?
Malvolia was never, ever supposed to be what she has become. I originally set out and wrote a treatment (outline) for a film series that I really, really wanted to be apart of, but alas, it was rejected. However, one of the producers of the series thought I had something and encouraged me to move on with it. Since I wasn’t under the film series standards, I wanted to make the subject something in horror that no one was really talking about at the time.
I had gone to Son of Monsterpalooza and was absolutely floored seeing the line (and the price) there was to see Elvira for .5 seconds! I immediately thought: HORROR HOST! So, I started to write my main character around this horror genre. I was really obsessed with “The Blair Witch Project” at the time and wanted to make this Horror Host seem real. So I thought, I’ll do a quick web series, maybe create a little bit of a fan base, make the feature, and then I’d be done.
HOWEVER, I released my Malvolia image on January 1, 2017, and it BLEW UP! I was bracing myself for hate and being accused of copying, and it ended up being the total opposite. Then, people were watching, commenting, asking questions, giving suggestions, and just wanting more, more, more! I was shocked. Still am, to be honest. That people really embraced this entity that, even though I took the idea, I built from the ground up.
I spent a good chunk of time researching and based my character off of “Vampira” and “Morticia Addams”. The dress was a lucky search from Amazon. The make up was goth like. I didn’t have a plan for episodes, so some friends donated their short films for me to “host”. So I thought, “I’ll do a search on popular YouTube videos, give them a horror feel, and just do that.” Once I saw that people were keeping her alive and that the idea I had worked better as a web series, I ditched the feature film idea (though, not entirely). Then I carried on throughout the rest of the year with the holiday themed specials and just playing.
I’m an actress, so that always had be apart of the series. The fact that I am even thinking about a Season 3 is pretty insane! I work off no budget as well. I’m so lucky to have incredibly talented, supportive friends in the industry who donate their time and talent — and believe in me so much that they pull favors. The hospital that we shot the Halloween Special at this year was also the hospital they shot the wrap around story for “Lilith”. It’s things like that that help me continue on since I can barely pay my rent as it is!
4. If you weren’t acting, what would you be doing?
That’s a hard question. I have been acting since I was 10 years old. It was the ONLY thing I have ever wanted to do. In fact, my dream was to just go to New York when I graduated high school and start auditioning. But having two parents as educators, that was not in the cards. I’m obsessed with make up. I started watching a lot of YouTube tutorials, because a lot of times on low budget projects I’d have to show up “make up ready” and had no idea where to start for camera (theatre, I knew!).
Also, I am always in awe of watching Chronix EFX on set and the ideas that they come up with with — just a sponge that they shave into a heart or some of the demon make up they did for “Lilith” that I couldn’t get off to save my soul, hahaha! So, if it wasn’t acting, I would probably try to do SFX or try my hand as a make up artist.
Oooh, and I also am obsessed with true crime! Obsessed! My next short that is coming out VERY soon is based off a true life murder. But, seeing as though I faint at the sight of real blood (no joke), I’d probably go into law instead.
5. Any advice for someone just starting in the genre?
I’ll say this time and time again (and I should REALLY always listen to my own advice), Just Do It! Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Whether you are on set one time or fifty million times, you will always be learning SOMETHING! Some of my best shots from “Demonic Attachment” came from camera tests — no joke!
Be open minded. Be willing to learn. Collaborate. Try something new. Don’t listen to the haters and nay sayers. There is room for everyone, and we really need to support one another. Know that you may not be the originator of everything you come up with, and that is okay. This genre has been around for DECADES, so things will be repeated. But put your own spin on it. Trust your gut. Be kind to yourself. And, again, most importantly, pick up that camera or that cellphone and JUST DO IT!
6. What are some of the challenges women face in the horror genre?
How we are viewed in the first place. Sometimes we are only viewed as “sex objects” or the thing that will make the scene more pretty by draping us over a man’s arm. I see some male actors who, may not be the best looking, but have had a successful career because they trained and have many tools in their tool belt when they approach a character and a film. Women, I feel, need to have the complete package.
During one of my first acting classes in LA, my weight became a discussion. I either had lose weight or gain weight, I couldn’t be just normal That has had a HUGE lasting effect on me. Thank God for the Kardashians for making curvy bodies appealing, because I would have no hope! LOL
Also, we are not always the victims either. We can take men down with our minds (or even physically), which I think is more terrifying than being chased like I tried to show in my viral short film “The Deal”. I was just recently told that I play too strong of characters in everything I write and do, and that is intimidating to some people. I get that, but at the same time, if I am going to write, produce, act, possibly direct, and then edit a project, I want it to be something I am so into, or else is just feels like work.
I also had some situations this past year where it started off as a “meeting” and then turned into a “date”. I’m so over it. I stopped taking meetings and just started offering auditions. I just want to work. That’s why I went back to really focusing on my own work and projects — surrounding myself with people that I trust. In my opinion, it’s still kinda messy out there.
7. How can we help increase gender equality in the genre?
Think outside the box. Not every general character has to be male. Women can play soldiers, cops, sheriffs, mayors, presidents, judges, etc. Women can also be up against other women. Women can team up with other women. I see the changes going on, I just wish we had better stories to go along with them. But with change comes time and patience. But I see that we are moving in a very good direction!
8. What is your favorite scary movie?
“Psycho”. Classic. Timeless. Fascinating. Well thought out and edited incredibly. Great imagery. Incredible strong female character who, even though doesn’t last throughout the whole film, made a HUGE, lasting impact in it.