‘Everybody Loves Nico!’ An Interview with ‘SUMMONING SYLVIA’ Star Frankie Grande

Summoning Sylvia was released on March 31st with positive reception and glowing reviews. Frankie Grande has a well of talent to draw from; dancing, singing, and acting. He’s also one of the stars of Summoning Sylvia portraying one of my favorite characters, Nico. I had the absolute joy of talking with Frankie Grande about his experience with Summoning Sylvia, and his own love of horror. Then we connected with some mutual childhood trauma around horror classics, and discussed a future horror musical project!

PopHorror: Hi Frankie! How are you?

Frankie Grande: Hi, Tiffany! I’m so good. How are you today?

PopHorror: I’m fairly well. It’s a gloomy day, but glad to be here.

Frankie Grande: Well where, where are you?

PopHorror: I’m glad to be here in existence, but I’m in San Antonio, Texas. And not too thrilled to be here here. What about you today?

Frankie Grande: Oh we’re in Los Angeles, California and it is only overcast. So everything is – it’s okay. I mean it hasn’t been the best weather– listen, I was just in Florida and that apparently is underwater.

PopHorror: I was just about to say you guys had that Biblical apocalypse weather for a minute – the snow and all the heavy rain.

Frankie Grande: Now Florida has it. I guess the world is just – we’re going to hell in a handbasket, and you know what? We’re gonna have a fun, gay ole time as we go down with the ship!

PopHorror: [laughs] Absolutely! [laughs]

Frankie Grande: [laughs] That’s the only way to look at it, right?

PopHorror: For sure. Only focus on what you can handle And may as well have fun while you’re doing it.

Frankie Grande: [laughs] Exactly! Oh, I love that, you’re cut from the same cloth as me.

PopHorror: Yeah I think so. I’m very happy to have a chance to talk with you. Actually, Nico is one of my favorite characters from Summoning Sylvia.

Summoning Sylvia still — Noah J. Ricketts as Kevin. Frankie Grande as Nico & Troy Iwata as Reggie,

Frankie Grande: Oh thank you! I love Nico. I’m so grateful that I got to play him and now I get to have him forever in my life moving forward. What a fun character. I love him.

PopHorror: With Nico, were you able to develop the character yourself, or did the directors already have in mind how they wanted you to portray him?

Frankie Grande: Well Alex [Wyse] and Wes [Taylor] and I have worked together several times because I was in their TV show Indoor Boys. So they know me pretty well, and they wrote this character with me in mind. Having said that, once I did start to breathe as Nico, they would tweak things, they’d change things, they’d allow me to improv lines. They’d say “Hey do you want to try this alt?” Or “Do you have anything you’d think Nico would say here?” So I really did get a chance to alter the character. Since it was my first film, that process happened in real-time, because we didn’t have a rehearsal. It’s an independent film, we shot it in 19 days, by day 3 I would say? Nico was fully formed in his fabulosity. [laughs] But on days 1 and 2 I think I was still figuring out who Nico was. It was such a fast process. I really hope that this leads to me being in a blockbuster one day because I’d like to see how it differs from an indie film. It was for sure a lot of in real-time work. Which I think was actually very rewarding and worked for the film.

PopHorror: Yeah. I think it happens a little more organically that way. It feels like when you are in the indie process – I mean directors have their different methods, but it’s like, for the directors that allow the actors to develop their characters, they have that kind of synergy where it’s like “Well this is what I had in mind for the character, and this is what I’m bringing to it, but what do you have in mind?” or “how do you feel they would do/say this?”

Frankie Grande: And I think that sounds like what we were doing, yeah. That is the way to go. And I think it also fosters a beautiful relationship between the cast and the creators.

PopHorror: For sure. 

Frankie Grande: Like there wasn’t really much of a divide between us. It almost felt like Wes and Alex were in the movie with us, because that’s how we felt so comfortable volleying back and forth. So it was a really lovely experience. And it’s so great to get to reflect on it with the cast at the various screenings and premieres we’ve been having. So, it’s been really nice.

Summoning Sylvia still — Troy Iwata as Reggie, Frankie Grande as Nico & Noah J. Ricketts as Kevin.

PopHorror: Yeah, very cool. So one of the things I thought was really cool about Summoning Sylvia – I love different takes on horror. I kinda came up with slasher films (as a kid), but I’ve since grown into appreciating more suspense and paranormal thrillers. With the kind of lighthearted nature of Summoning Sylvia – well “lighthearted” in a way. I know the film explores some heavy topics –

Frankie Grande: Themes and things, yeah.

PopHorror: Exactly. But in general how it’s presented and how it wraps up for me, feels more lighthearted. Especially when you think about horror films (in general). So I appreciated that – I just really love the film, and I’m trying not to gush. I don’t want to waste our time on me gushing [laughs]. Are you actually a horror fan? Did you guys already know that this was going to be something different by comparison to the standard view of horror?

Frankie Grande: Yes. So I’m a huge horror fan –

PopHorror: Sweet!

Frankie Grande: And my husband and I are absolutely obsessed with horror. And it’s funny to hear you say that because my husband – I don’t want to give the movie away, but my husband was very upset that no one died. Whereas I was very happy that no one died. It shows you the range of horror that can be appreciated by all. And I was speaking to a couple of people yesterday that were like, “It felt like horror to me, but it didn’t end like horror; which I loved.”

PopHorror: Right.

Frankie Grande: And that is something that I’m kind of grateful for. Is because we are a queer film with an LGBTQ+ cast. You know, we have been the people in the horror genre that die first. And the people in the horror genre that are in it for the laughs or just the camp reasons. So the fact that we’re in a horror movie where we are fully realized characters having organic relationships with each other that actually end up being meaningful is so delightful. 

PopHorror: Yes.

Frankie Grande: And I hope that when people see Summoning Sylvia they think of new ways to include queer people in their film and media presentations to the world. Especially in the horror genre.

Photo By: Maxwell Poth

PopHorror: Right. Yeah, I did a review of Summoning Sylvia, and that’s one of the things I mentioned. Being with PopHorror as a lesbian and woman of color, it’s really important to get to talk about these things because, with the horror fanbase, it’s not just straight, white, men who are horror fans. 

Frankie Grande: No, it really isn’t. I went to Horror Con out here in L.A. and there were a lot of queer diverse people, a lot a lot a lot! I’m so grateful that you’re a member of all the communities you just mentioned because you’ll get the film in a different way and I’m so grateful that you were the one reviewing it. Thank you.

PopHorror: No problem. I’m glad (the horror genre is) expanding and thank you! It was my pleasure. Do you have a favorite horror movie, villain, and/or franchise?

Frankie Grande: OOooh! That’s so good! I mean since we’re into horror genre-bending, I’m going to go with Aliens.

PopHorror: Nice!

Frankie Grande: Which I know skews sci-fi, but that is my favorite film. I watch it all the time. I have a huge alien queen tattoo on my bicep.

PopHorror: Awesome!

Frankie Grande: You know, I absolutely idolize Ripley. Played, you know, by the iconic Sigourney Weaver.

Ellenripley Ellenalien GIF - Ellenripley Ellenalien Aliens ...

PopHorror: Yeah!

Frankie Grande: To me it is one of the more perfect films. And I am a big sci-fi horror fan. Anything with an alien sign me up, I’m there.

PopHorror: Nice! That’s so cool. Aliens was the first movie I ever saw in the theater. And I was 3 and it was a horrible mistake, but my mom didn’t realize.

Frankie Grande: [whispers] No way!

PopHorror: [laughs] Yeeeeah.

Frankie Grande: My mom did that to me with Chucky!

Chucky Bite GIF - Chucky Bite - Discover & Share GIFs

PopHorror: Oh my God!

Frankie Grande: It was a horrible, horrible mistake when I was 7!

PopHorror: Oh no!

Frankie Grande: But listen, here we are, obsessed with horror, so maybe it wasn’t a mistake in the end.

PopHorror: No not at all. [laughs]

Frankie Grande: Yeah exactly.

PopHorror: I think it’s a perfect way – like it’s therapeutic, you know? It’s a really good way to achieve catharsis with the different issues that we have, or the different things we live through in life. And that’s kind of why I wish non-horror fans wouldn’t just see it as gory and demented. Because it can have so many layers.

Frankie Grande: Yeah, it’s a genre where people are not afraid to explore crazy things, which – which people think are crazy. I really applaud that. You know? You can explore some things that can be extremely therapeutic in horror that may be too much for drama. So I love the horror genre. And I love that comedy horror is becoming a thing more than ever. With Megan, Cocaine Bear, and now with our movie Summoning Sylvia. These comic horror twists are so much more delightful for a much larger audience, I think. And it makes me feel like the genre is expanding, and I love that. I’m one of the people that’s like “Yes, keep expanding, this is great for everyone.”

PopHorror: Yeah. Well, my last question is a two-parter because I know I’m getting close to my time here. Do you see yourself – as a horror fan, do you see yourself doing more horror films? And what do think about horror musicals as a subgenre?

Frankie Grande: Ooooh! Wow, this is a great question! Okay, I pray that I do more horror. I think that after seeing myself in the film – not to be egotistical at all, but I do think that I belong up there. 

PopHorror: I agree.

Frankie Grande: Thank you. I really, really enjoy shooting this movie. And I really hope that it leads to more, especially in the horror genre. I had a cameo in Spree, and I died in that. But maybe I’ll be the final survivor in another one. Like an actual murder/horror, that could be fun.

From Frankie’s Twitter page — BTS Photo from Spree with Frankie Grande and Joe Keery

Frankie Grande (cont’d): And to your second question, horror musical is actually something that I’m extremely passionate about. My production company Diamond Dog Entertainment, with my mom and my friends. We put on a horror musical called Horror Camp, these past two Octobers at The Bourbon Room in Los Angeles. It’s a jukebox musical taking place at a camp that takes place over three different decades. We use the tropes of the characters and show how they change and evolve in each decade playing the same exact story out. I think you would be obsessed with it!

Frankie Grande in Horror Camp: A Musical Massacre. Photo by Joshua Kim.


PopHorror: It sounds great!

Frankie Grande: I’m gonna invite you when we do Horror Camp, hopefully, this October at The Bourbon Room all over again. But our goal is to one day make it a movie. So perfect transition, I think a horror movie musical is a necessary addition to this world.

PopHorror: Sweet! For sure. I’m there, as soon as you started describing this I was like “Oooh that sounds good!” 

Frankie Grande: Yeah really cool, and actually pretty smart too. It was really fun. The audiences just loved it. I’m hoping to be able to bring that to the silver screen one day. And in the meantime just keep doing it as a live production of a stage horror movie musical. There’s really not enough of it out there. 

PopHorror: Well, I so much appreciate your time Frankie.

Frankie Grande: You too!

Know that when Mama G’s Horror Camp comes around, there will be coverage here on PopHorror! You can check out a teaser for Horror Camp on Frankie’s Facebook page here: Mama G’s Horror Camp: A Musical Massacre

And we certainly hope to see more of Frankie as a Scream Queen, or better yet, a Final Boy!

Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out Summoning Sylvia on your favorite VOD platform!

Summoning Sylvia poster art

About Tiffany Warren

Along with writing for PopHorror, Tiffany is a video editor and 3D rendering and animation enthusiast. When not writing, she's hiking and making photos, or loving on her precious furbabies.

Check Also

Announcing Ricky Glore’s ‘Open House’ (2023) – ‘Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ Meets ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’

After I chatted with Filmmaker Ricky Glore (read the interview here) and found out about …