Back in 2013, a little independent film was made called Contracted. And it was pretty fucking disgusting. But more than that, it was just a really great movie. The star of the film, Najarra Townsend, is a big reason for how good it is. When The Stylist came out (the short and the feature-length film) with Najarra in the lead, I was reminded of how phenomenal of an actor she really is. I was lucky enough to chat with Najarra via Zoom, and we discussed her latest film, The Darkness of the Road, surviving a zombie apocalypse, and why she loves horror.
PopHorror: Hi, Najarra! I really enjoyed The Darkness in the Road so I’m super excited to speak with you today. What was it about the film that intrigued you and made you want to be a part of it?
Najarra Townsend: I liked the script, quite frankly. I wanted to play the role. I thought it would be quite a challenge, and I just was up for it. I wanted to put myself through hell, essentially. And I thought it was interesting… I don’t want to give anything away, but I thought it was an interesting kind of twist at the end. I didn’t expect it. What was happening in the film, that’s not what I thought was going on, so I thought it was something cool to be a part of.
PopHorror: I bet coming upon a twist when reading something definitely is intriguing. After reading the script, was there anything that you were adamant about bringing to your character?
Najarra Townsend: I always want my characters to be relatable, even if you can’t relate to what she’s going through. If you imagine and you put yourself in those shoes, I would hope that how I’m maybe portraying what’s happening is somehow relatable. I didn’t go into it thinking, “Oh, I need to make this clear.” I just wanted to “live” her, if that makes sense.
PopHorror: It does. You’re no stranger to the horror genre. What is it that keeps bringing you back?
Najarra Townsend: I think it’s a mixture of things. I love horror. I love the horror community. A lot of my friends are filmmakers and producers. It kind of keeps me in there. Plus, I find that the characters that I’ve been fortunate enough to play, I keep going back to horror movies because they’re always interesting characters, and there’s so much to them. I get to go through such a range of emotions, usually. Everything is so heightened, and I find it really exciting.
Plus, I love special effects. I like all the make-up. Yeah, I’m just a horror junkie. It’s like therapy sessions always. I get out all of my emotions. I just find them really fun to do. Plus, it feels like people who make horror movies—at least maybe lower budget movies—they’re always fans of the genre, so it feels like such a passion project. Everyone is just so excited to be playing. Like, “That’s what we get to do!”
PopHorror: I agree with you 100%. So, what do you think your weapon of choice would be in a zombie apocalypse?
Najarra Townsend: Oh, my goodness. You would think I would have an answer for that. My weapon of choice… You would think something like an ax or a machete would be the most useful. I guess it would depend on what kind of zombies they are to really kill them. But I don’t know if I would have the strength to actually get through—this is so awful—to get through. But then with a gun, you have to worry about bullets.
PopHorror: Yeah, that was my thought, too.
Najarra Townsend: A bow and arrow would be cool, but is that sensible? Because you’re going to run out of arrows, too. Are you going to go collect them? That’s really tricky. I’m trying to think if there’s some magical weapon that I’m not thinking of.
PopHorror: My thought was a knife or machete as well because that’s something you can use over and over, but I did not think about the strength behind actually using it.
Najarra Townsend: I’m sure there’s a trick to it to make it easier and after you’ve done it a few times, you could like… I don’t know. I think that has to be the best option, because you won’t run out of it, it’s there. And if they get close to you, you have it. Yeah, I think I’ll go with a machete.
PopHorror: Great answer. If you weren’t acting, what do you think you would be doing?
Najarra Townsend: Well, I would say I would be doing music, but that also seems really… Ever since I can remember, ever since I was a very small child, acting has been all I wanted to do. I love books, and I love reading, but I’ve never even tried to write, so I don’t think writing would be the thing. I know whatever it would be would be something creative in the field. For a long time, I thought if I wasn’t an actor, I would be a casting director, but then I helped a friend cast a movie, and I realized that I was wrong. I thought, “Oh, it’s so fun. You get to watch people audition all day.” But I was wrong. I was so wrong. Casting a movie is so hard. It’s not always enjoyable. I have started to sprinkle around with producing a bit. Maybe I would just focus on producing. I want to continue to create films, and I’m not a writer. Maybe I’ll direct one day, but I don’t know. I’m going to stick with producing. This was the most long-winded answer. I would be a producer of films.
PopHorror: What is up next for you?
Najarra Townsend: I do have plans to go back to the States to shoot a movie in February. So my next move is another film.
Najarra Townsend: Yeah, it is.
PopHorror: Yay, I’m excited.
Najarra Townsend: It hasn’t been announced yet or talked about yet, so I can’t say anything about it, but it is a horror movie. And I’m excited to do it.
PopHorror: Well I am excited to see what you have coming up for us. Just one last question for you today. What is your favorite scary movie?
Najarra Townsend: I hate favorites. I always have. The film that I keep going back to and saying is my favorite horror movie is Rosemary’s Baby because I grew up with it. My mom watched it. I’ve always loved it. Every time I watch it, I feel like I’m discovering something new about it, or I keep feeling different ways about it. I actually really want to watch it again, because I became a mom this year.
Najarra Townsend: Thanks! I feel like now, once again I’ll have a really different reaction to that movie. I love Rosemary’s Baby. I also really like The Descent because to this day, every time I watch it, I’m so petrified. I can’t stop being scared of that movie.
PopHorror: You will not find me spelunking, ever. I wouldn’t have it done before this movie, but after watching it, you will never see me do it.
Najarra Townsend: No way. No. That movie endlessly terrifies me.
Thank you so much, Najarra, for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to check out The Darkness of the Road on On Demand now!