Exclusive: 'Scream Queen' Brooke Lewis Bellas Chats With KB Pop Culture
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Brooke Lewis Bellas is an award-winning actress, producer, and writer. Dubbed the "Scream Queen" for her successful horror/thriller film career, KB Pop Culture got the scoop on her career thus far and an exclusive peek into her upcoming projects.
Just in time for Halloween, we had the chance to interview with the Queen of horror movies, Brooke Lewis Bellas. Bellas has starred in Kinky Killers (2007) and Slime City Massacre (2010) amongst dozens of others. A veteran of the horror genre, she shows no signs of slowing down as she is producing, writing and starring in many films such as The Mourning; streaming now on Tubi TV.
Take a look at our full interview with the original and iconic Scream Queen as she divulges her thoughts on her award-winning career thus far and exclusive looks into her upcoming film projects. Plus, get her unique perspective on the streaming versus network film industries.
You were nicknamed the ‘Scream Queen’ after your appearance as Dr. Grace Sario in the hit SHOWTIME movie, ‘Kinky Killers’ (2007) and you were honored with the 'B-Movie Award for Scream Queen Of The Year' for your work in ‘Slime City Massacre’ (2010). You are clearly gifted in the horror/thriller genre. Was that always your passion and favorite genre, or did it just happen that your career bloomed that way?
"Thank you for the compliment! It is quite funny as I had an interesting acting path. As many actors get their start in horror and thrillers, or their springboard, as we say, then move into other genres, or buildup on to television, I bloomed in the opposite direction. I was an absolute horror fanatic “fangirl” when I was a kid growing up in the 80s! I loved all the horror films, from the original "Prom Night," "Halloween," and all the 80s greats! I started my professional career singing, dancing, and doing regional Actors’ Equity Association union musical theater. Then I graduated to Tony n’ Tina's Wedding Off-Broadway in New York City for three years, under an AEA contract, and never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would one day become known as the “Scream Queen." When I starred and was one of the Executive Producers on SHOWTIME's "Kinky Killers," it opened an incredible door for me.
I was suddenly having the title “Scream Queen” bestowed upon me. I embraced every moment of it! In fact, to me, “A Scream Queen is a sexy, powerful actress in horror films or television.” I felt this incredible honor to have had that title bestowed upon me years ago, and I have embraced it ever since. Acknowledging that, I do not even think some of my fans and business associates are aware of the fact that for every like two horror/thriller films, or television that I have acted in, I have done an additional three outside of the horror genre. I have done a lot of mafia/mobster genre movies and television, and a lot of comedies, and a few Sci-fi projects. It is always funny to me when actors are pigeonholed in a certain genre in Hollywood. I have a much more varied resume as an actress and producer."
You have too many awards to list here, over 80 to be exact, including Best Actress in an Indie Film at the 2018 Actors Awards and you were inducted into The Carney Board for the honorable Carney Awards Character Actor Hall Of Fame in 2019. Which of your many prestigious awards mean the most to you, and how does it feel to be consistently recognized for your incredible work?
"Thank you so much my humbled heart! It is an interesting concept and experience winning these awards. I think it is important to keep it in perspective and not allow our egos to get in the way. We want to remember that we all rise and fall. Naturally, it is an incredible honor, especially when I know how unbelievably hard I have worked, and sacrificed, to have what little I have. So when the accolades and awards come, it is very special because I may not be starring in the television series of my dreams at this moment, and any creative knows that the jobs in the industry ebb and flow, and sometimes it really ebbs, but those are the moments that I step back, and I step into gratitude, and I look around at my office walls and my beautiful trophy case, and I see the awards I've received, and it is an indication and validation for me to keep moving forward, no matter what it takes! I truly cherish every single one of my awards, no matter how prestigious, and no matter if it comes from a very high profile festival or awards ceremony, or if it comes from one of the smaller independent festivals around the industry. I love them all the same. They are each an incredible honor.
If I have to acknowledge a few, I would say the ones that resonate with me right now would be, for sure, being invited to be on The Carney Board for the Carney Awards, as I've worked so hard to keep one foot in the horror, thriller genre as a Scream Queen, but also to keep one foot outside in the mainstream world, so to be invited, and respected enough, to be on the board for something so prestigious, in honor of the brilliant Art Carney, is just incredible. I am also unbelievably grateful for winning the B-Movie Award for Scream Queen of the Year 2010 for Slime City Massacre, as it is something that is awarded to one horror actress of the year and when I broke out in horror years ago, it was presented to me and it just sticks with me always, to remind me that I did something right in my career. I made the right choices. I embraced becoming a Scream Queen and I loved every minute of it! I also would have to acknowledge the Actors Awards, as that is an incredible honor for an actor! There are so many talented actors throughout the world, so to win any best actor award, in any competition, is just incredible because, again, it gives me some validation that maybe I did some good work as an actress, and truly that is all I ever care about in my work. Another award I cherish is the Action On Film coveted Stella Adler Best Actor Award. Lastly, I would also have to shout out to The Communicator Awards, which have been so supportive of my career for ten years, and it is such a high honor when it comes to products and projects. It is very esteemed in the television and streaming industry, and I have now been blessed with three Communicator Awards over the years, and it just means the world to me."
In addition to acting on high-profile networks like SHOWTIME and Starz, you’re jumping into the world of streaming like several other big name actors with your film The Mourning streaming now on Tubi TV. Is there any experience that’s really different as an actor streaming vs. network?
"Well, since I am also a Co-producer on The Mourning, I will simply have to shout out to it: Odyssey Motion Pictures released Drama/Mystery/Sci-fi/Romance on Tubi TV. Directed by Marc Clebanoff (Stripped), The Mourning stars Michael Rene Walton (20 Ft Below: The Darkness Descending), Louis Mandylor (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Dominique Swain (Lolita), Sally McDonald (Crushed), Larry Hankin (Home Alone), Peter Dobson (Frighteners), Kinga Phillips (6 Ways to Sundown), Brooke Lewis Bellas (Sinatra Club), Frank Krueger (No Clean Break) and Bob Spillman (White Mule). Produced by Marc Clebanoff, Michael Rene Walton, and Pepe Lobo. Co-producers Nadeem Soumah, Anoop Rangi, and Brooke Lewis Bellas. Cinematography by Nadeem Soumah. Written by Marc Clebanoff and Michael Rene Walton.
Synopsis: Aaron returns to his small Middle America hometown, inexplicably, not having aged a day since his mysterious disappearance in Desert Storm 20 years prior. Initially unable to speak, Aaron must come to terms with the losses and evolution of his loved ones in his absence. Concurrently, Aaron’s loved ones must come to terms with the reappearance of the boy who they grieved over and let go years prior. As Aaron begins to assimilate himself back into the lives of his family, his best friend, and his long lost lover, it is slowly revealed that Aaron’s homecoming is not permanent. A conspiracy theorist and a mysterious angelic figure, both stalking Aaron, build toward a finale in which Aaron must tie up loose ends before disappearing again forever.
If I answered this question in detail, we would have your poor readers here with us for seven hours! But to answer it with brevity, in my humble professional experience and opinion, everything about network television vs. streaming television is different! As you stated, the budgets, advertising, marketing, and product placement are incredibly different. The requirements for the cast are different. The opportunities for actors and cast and crew are quite different. I do feel that streaming television has opened up an entirely new world and has designed platforms for independent content that we have never seen before in the world of Entertainment or Hollywood."
Not only are you a gifted actress, but you’re also a producer. You recently executive produced and starred in Red Rooms which we are SO excited for to come out! What’s it like to both produce and star in a movie? Is there extra pressure you feel to make the film perfect?
"Let’s begin with a small Red Rooms spoiler at the start of COVID-19, my creative instinct kicked in, and I knew I had to create to stay somewhat sane, so I spent most of the quarantine Executive Producing and filming a virtual streaming series. Red Rooms was conceived and completed out of isolation inspiration! Joshua Butler and I had been in development on a project and had been reminiscing about our favorite industry days of yesteryear when we met on the horror film circuit. I had already been a superfan of Joshua’s work for years. In 2019, we shot a proof of concept for our project, which paid homage to his hugely successful film "VLOG" (2008) from the producers of "SAW," which went on to become a hit television series. When COVID-19 hit Hollywood, and we were all in isolation, I called for a production meeting, then suggested we use the footage we shot and attempt to experiment by filming each character virtually from their homes. Red Rooms stars horror film and TV veterans Brooke Lewis Bellas (iMurders), David Alpay (The Vampire Diaries), Suze Lanier-Bramlett (The Hills Have Eyes), Ricky Dean Logan (Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare), and Noah Blake (Teen Witch). We are currently working on post-production and cannot wait to see where we end up!
To answer the latter part of the question, it is brutal! I feel that producing a project and starring in it is one of the most challenging tasks in the industry. I have done it many times out of necessity and because (said humbly) I am quite good at it, as I am good at business, organization, and leadership. Producing in a professional capacity takes so much work, time, and energy. I love acting more than anything! So, out of necessity, I have been forced to produce, since I moved to Hollywood, to obtain the roles that I want to play.
Producing and starring in a film or TV series is probably one of the most challenging things a creative person can conquer. It takes two very different sides of the brain, albeit creativity is at the forefront of both. As a producer, you have to maintain the business and organizational side of the project, which is not always easy to do, especially when you're focused on the creative side of the project as an actor. At times you have to choose what is best for the project in the long-haul or the big picture. It can affect or detract from your perspective as an actor in the piece.
However, I always like to end on a positive, and the positive part of Executive Producing, while starring in a project, is that you can maintain some level of control, whether that be business control, creative control, or both. It feels so empowering, especially as a woman, to have any control in the film and television business. So, for me, I'll track back to the fact that I don't believe the opportunities that I have had as an actress would have come to me had I not Produced or Executive Produced the projects, as well. Lastly, you do not want to ask me if I feel extra pressure to make the film perfect! I am an absolute perfectionist in work and life; I am a Virgo! I work my butt off to try to perfect everything I do until I have worked myself into exhaustion. So, as obsessive and perfectionistic as I can be, the answer is a big phat YES… I feel the added pressure!"
What has been your favorite film project so far and why?
"This is a tough one for me! I am so grateful to be a consistently working actress and producer for over 20 years. I can't choose only one favorite project! Funny, my favorite roles tend to fall into the character actress roles that I so love to play and create, based on my favorite Philly/Jersey/New York people.
One streaming project and character that I am so proud of (which is also my alter ego) was born out of the horror genre love and fame. Ms. Vampy is a comedic mobster Brooklyn vampire with a heart of gold, and I am proud of this character and all the projects that I have worked on with Ms. Vampy over many years. I am also proud of the fact that I was able to create something positive for teenage girls with her, including not only a streaming series but authoring my book “Ms. Vampy’s Teen Tawk: There’s A Lotta Power In Ya Choices.”
Another project I am incredibly proud of is “Sinatra Club,” a film that I was one of the producers on, as well as playing the role of Rosella. This was a passion project for seven years of my life. I found the script in 2004, and we shot the film in 2009. It was released through several channels in 2011. It is based on a true story about the night John Gotti became John Gotti and the story of Sal ‘Ubatz’ Polisi. Rosella is a comedic mobster gumada, and it was just an incredible experience with the most amazing actors I could have dreamed of working opposite, including Danny Nucci, Jason Gedrick, Michael Nouri, and Joey Lawrence.
Last but not least, I must shout out to an indie gem that I am forever grateful for, the role of Pam De Luca in the film “½ New Year” (Watch on Amazon Prime or Tubi TV). Drew McAnany, created the brother and sister roles for us to act in as Reed and Pam DeLuca. This was written with Georgia Menides and directed by Tom Morash, and I am blessed as an actress to have had this role written for me. However, the irony is, I love my dark, emotional drama films and performances I have experienced in Sprinkles and Psycho Therapy (Watch both on Amazon Prime) more than anything, and I hope to have a lot more of those in my career."
You have millions of fans around the world who are so eager for your next projects! Can you give us an exclusive peek into what you’re working on or planning for the future?
"I cherish my fans. I feel like one of the luckiest actresses in the world to have had the most loyal and supportive fans for many years. I am grateful to have acted and produced a few projects that wrapped before COVID-19. My Psycho Therapy film director, Staci Layne Wilson, wrote a film with Darren Gordon Smith (Repo! The Genetic Opera). Those two are so talented, and I do not want to give any spoilers, but it is titled “The Second Age of Aquarius.” It is a comedy, with a little bit of a Sci-Fi twist and a lot of music. I am an Executive Producer, and I play Tawny Stevens. She is a mom, stuck in the eighties as a New Jersey rocker mom. Just wait until you see my hair, my make-up, and my leopard pants.
We also wrapped an amazing TV pilot Stripped. It is a comedy/drama. It is a TV pilot that was written and directed by Marc Clebanoff, who also directed the film The Mourning. Stripped was a huge passion project. I was also one of the producers with Marc and Frank Krueger (also stars in it). I played Jules, the publicist to the star, Chris Cameron, played by Casper Van Dien. It was created by Mark Clebanoff and late actor Kristoff St. John. They had created the concept before he passed on, which is such a sad situation, but Marc wanted to carry on his legacy, and he did, and we did. It is such an incredible cast, crew, and series we are all proud of, and we are negotiating our streaming home as you release this!"
We seriously cannot wait for Brooke's upcoming projects! Staying in for a socially-distant Halloween night? Be sure to check out one of Brooke's movies. You won't regret it... unless they give you nightmares.