I just added a new film to my ever-growing list of favorites of this year. Mariama Diallo’s Master (our review) is just amazing. It’s thoughtful, but packs a mean punch and doesn’t fuck around with the story it’s trying to tell. It will make you think but is also super freaking creepy and scary. To celebrate the release of Master, which you can now watch on Amazon Prime, I chatted with star Zoe Renee via Zoom about why she wanted to be a part of the film, her new appreciation for horror, what’s up next, and more!
PopHorror: What intrigued you about Master and the role of Jasmine, and made you want to be a part of the project?
Zoe Renee: I read the script, and I think immediately, I just was hooked. It was a script that made me a little uncomfortable. It was a little painful, and I think there was something inside of me that wanted to dig a little deeper on why I felt those feelings. Why was it so painful? Why was it uncomfortable? And I think the answer is that I’ve had similar experiences that I just kind of pushed away and didn’t process, and shooting Master was that for me. It was processing it; it was reliving it. Just kind of putting that to rest and to bed. That is what Master was for me.
PopHorror: You mentioned it being painful and being uncomfortable. Because it does touch on such important issues, what do you hope people walk away with after watching it?
Zoe Renee: The only thing I really can hope is that they have a conversation about it. Master, and the point of views that we see in Master, from Gail to Liv to Jasmine, are point of views that are pretty quiet when we’re discussing predominantly white institutions. So I think that we can just have conversation about it, if people that have not had those experiences can see that this might be what it feels like just have a conversation about it. I think it makes it a lot less taboo to see how a section of the world is living and interacting.
PopHorror: After reading the script, was there anything you were adamant about bringing to your character?
Zoe Renee: That’s a great question. After reading the script, I honestly was just like I have to be as honest as possible because if I’m not, I’m going to do a very big disservice to a lot of the people who have felt anything similar. I knew that it wasn’t time for me to put on my actor boots and try to pull out all of this weird show. I knew that it was time to listen, to be focused, to have a really good time, of course, but to also just move honestly, move like water, really. Allow what’s happening around me and around Jasmine to really tell the story of her and what’s happening in her environment.
PopHorror: Were you a horror fan? I was looking through your IMDb because this is the first movie I’ve seen you in, and I did not really see any other horror. Were you a fan before making Master?
Zoe Renee: Um, no. I’m scared of pretty much everything. It’s not that I stayed away from it. I’m pretty new to this whole thing. I didn’t stay away from it. Master was the first horror that came to me so I was like, “I’ll try, sure.” But Mariama [director Diallo] had to give me a crash course in horror history.
PopHorror: That’s awesome!
Zoe Renee: Yeah, it was a really cool experience, because she’s so well-versed in it all. I was just watching her be a fan of all of these movies that now I am as well. But yeah, I was not. I was extremely scared, but now I think I’m a little bit more open to it. But I’m still scared.
PopHorror: I was going to ask if you think you would do another horror film. Do you see horror in your future?
Zoe Renee: I see horror in my future in a couple years. Maybe a year or two. I just need a little time. You’ve seen the movie, but I’m still waking up at 3:33, which is really spooky.
PopHorror: What is up next for you?
Zoe Renee: I have a film on Disney+ coming out. What a turnaround from Master. This one is fun for the entire family. I think it’s kind of important for me… I would like to do both. I would like to tell really edgy, racy stories, and I would also love to be able to tell some for people that are a little younger, so we have Chang Can Dunk! coming out on Disney+. So that’s going to be a really fun one. Definitely won’t give anyone any nightmares, so that’ll be nice.
PopHorror: That’s exciting! I just have one last question for you, and I know you said that you weren’t really a horror fan, but what is your favorite scary movie?
Zoe Renee: I guess now, after Master, I would say I really enjoyed Rosemary’s Baby. I liked the fashion of it, and I also really loved the story a lot. It was one of the first movies that Mariama wanted me to watch, and I had a good time watching it. I thought it was just cool.
Thank you so much, Zoe, for taking the time to speak with us. You can catch Master on Amazon Prime now!