(Collaboration with Brie Garrett)
MTV is known for having a big impact on pop culture. From TRL (Total Request Live) to Jersey Shore, the network has influenced what teens and young adults have listened to and talked about. One of their newest shows has taken MTV fans and social media users by storm, and it is Scream. Taking on the iconic franchise once directed by Wes Craven, MTV is placing a modern twist to the classic horror story.
Brianne Tju stars in the new series, though her character met an untimely death early on in the show. Her character Riley was sweet and lovable, caring deeply about her friends and appearing to be smarter and deeper than she led on. It was shown early on through her conversations with horror fanatic Noah that the story of Brandon James, the alleged serial killer who rampaged the town eleven years prior, interested her greatly. Unfortunately, her growing knowledge didn’t prevent her from falling into the deadly trap of the new “Ghostface” killer.
“I think because the whole goal of the show is to create these characters that you fall in love with, so that when they are brutally murdered, it really hurts the audience,” Brianne says, when asked if she felt Riley was killed off too early. “I think when Riley was killed off, it made sense because out of everybody, at that point she was one of the most likeable characters and people were rooting for her and Noah to be together. So to take her away so abruptly and harshly, it really did hurt the audience and I think in that way, they achieved their goal.”
Achieve their goal, they did, as Riley’s last words, spoken to her boyfriend Noah, were “I can see our stars,” a reference to when Riley and Noah first kissed. Fans cried at the death of one of their favorite characters all over social media. Riley had been the only one who still strongly believed in the innocence of her friend Tyler, who the audience knew was wrongly accused of being the serial killer and later found to be dead.
However, finding out that Riley’s time with her friends was limited had not been a surprise to Brianne. “I knew Riley was going to be killed off. We filmed the pilot and almost a year later, we found out we were going to be picked up! So before the first table read that we had in L.A., the show-runner Jill (Blotevogel) called me,” Brianne says with a small giggle. “And let me know that Riley was going to die.
Although Riley’s death didn’t shock Brianne, there were others that did. “I didn’t really expect Will to be killed off,” she explains. “I thought that the love triangle between him, Emma, and Kieran was going to last a little longer, so I was kind of shocked by that.”
“Bella Thorne’s character dying was pretty shocking,” Brianne continues. “I think people thought that she was going to last longer in the show which is what I liked about it. She kind of had that Drew Barrymore-original kill from Scream feel because everyone thought that she was going to be the star of the show and then they killed her off so it kind of let the audience know that anything can happen,” Brianne finishes, referencing the parallels between Thorne’s character Nina and Barrymore’s character Casey. Both characters were thought to be the main stars, though both were killed off within the first fifteen minutes. Their deaths are even similar in which neither characters parents are home and both girls are settling down for a night-in, Barrymore’s character getting ready for a movie night with her boyfriend who was coming and Thorne’s character chilling out in the hot tub after hanging out with her boyfriend Tyler, who teased about coming back for the night. Their characters were also both stabbed before they were killed, left in a gruesome area to be found by their mothers soon after.
It is because of this idea that anything can happen to anyone, with so many dark secrets floating around each character, that no one is one hundred percent sure who the killer, or killers, is. “Uh, yeah, I think that has changed,” Brianne laughed at the memory of her previous theory that Noah and Audrey were the killers. Laughing at herself, she continued, “That was a pretty cynical theory! Maybe I was bitter because I just died!” Brianne quickly added, still giggling slightly, “No I’m kidding!” To be honest, we wouldn’t blame her! And it definitely didn’t help that Noah is completely fascinated and awed by serial killers.
Her new theory on the killer? The podcast journalist Piper. “I know that Will died and gaaah! I want to point my finger at Piper’s character because I feel like when she got knocked out int hat warehouse, she got knocked out too easily,” Brianne speculates. “You know, like she was kind of luring Will’s character there. So I want to point a finger at her but of course, that could change!”
Brianne has found herself now part of a legendary franchise, though her favorite part of it stems back to the director of the original Scream film. “I think Wes Craven is so genius because he really created a whole new genre. It was horror but it was also very meta and had a sel-aware comedic factor,” Brianne says, talking about the fact that Scream played and pointed out clichés that appeared in most horror films, as well as had the characters talk openly about famous and other classic horror flicks. “I think that I really loved how it wasn’t too serious all the time and it wasn’t like too campy either; it had a really good mesh between the two genres.”
She’s pretty satisfied with how the new MTV Scream series is continuing on the legacy of the original film. “I think that the writers have done such a great job maintaining the integrity of the original movies and making something very relevant to today’s generation. Still they have the audience from the previous movies and so I think that they’ve done a really good job with that whole balancing act. I mean, watching it now, it’s something that I feel – it has that original Scream feel but also, I think because it’s MTV, it feels really all its own and it really stands on its own.”
If she were in a horror movie, Brianne hopes to survive longer than her character Riley. “I guess it would depend on the kind of character I’m playing,” she starts with a quiet laugh. “But I would love to, because I never died before and Scream was my first chance to do that. If I were to do another horror movie, it’d be cool to be the last person standing and then to have to turn around and look around and realize, ‘Wow, everyone else has died except me!’ so that would be kind of cool.” On the kind of character that she would like to play, Brianne hopes to break from what she’s played before. “I’ve always played characters that are very character driven so I’ve always played the dumb girl, or a girl that has a very defining factor to them so I think it would be cool to play the middle ground character, you know? And who hopefully gets to survive in the end!”
Working on a television show where the theme is mainly horror/mystery is a first for Brianne. “I’ve done a lot of comedy before I did Scream so to do Scream was really exciting,” Brianne says. However she doesn’t have a preference to any one genre. “I think it defers depending on where I am in my life,” she explains. Speaking of working on something like Scream, Brianne continues, “I think right now, I’m kind of following that momentum and am really interested in taking on really other more dramatic roles. I’m not opposed to anything at all! I’m really open and want to try everything, but I think right now, I’m really going towards dramatic roles.”
Speaking of her other roles, Brianne remembers what it was like to work on the show Make It or Break It. “Well, I obviously didn’t do any of the flips or anything!” she laughs. But they had me do a couple of the stunts, like walking on the balancing beam and hanging on the uneven bars. Walking on the balancing beam was cool because I actually have horrible balance!” she states through her fit of giggles. “I don’t know if it’s my equilibrium or what but I can’t walk in a straight line,” jokes Brianne. “When they had me do that, at first, besides the mat under me, there wasn’t any extra cushion. So when I was doing it, I just kept jumping off and they were like, ‘Why do you keep jumping off?’ and I’m like, ‘I’m too scared to do it!’ So they had to like build a wall of mats next to me where you don’t see it on camera but I know it’s there so when I was doing it, if I were to fall, I would have something there to catch me!” she laughs, reminiscing.
More laughs were had on the set of Brianne’s Nickelodeon movie, The Massively Mixed Up Middle School Mystery, which premiered earlier this month. On that, she worked with her sister which she remembers was awkward! “It was kind of like a dream come because she and I, ever since we were little, practiced monologues to each other or acted out movies or plays we’ve seen and such. So for us to actually work together was really cool and an interesting experience.” Although, filming with her sister was not easy from the start, Brianne remembers.
“We filmed that about two years ago and it was funny! On our first day of shooting, we had a scene together and it was weird because it was like talking to her, but not just talking to her, it was acting with her on camera in front of a bunch of people; it so was awkward! So the director Will Eisenberg came up to us and was like, ‘Okay, that was weird,’” Brianne laughs as she remembers. “’You guys are sisters in real life. You’re playing sisters. No need to be weird abuot it.’ And then it kind of clicked and we were okay for the rest of the shoot, but it was really funny!”
Just like you and me, Brianne is a human being who has to face real life struggles everyday but also learns and grows. She works hard for everything that she has achieved, but she is still human and none of us are perfect. “I think one of the biggest obstacles, which I haven’t necessarily overcome it, I’m still working on it, but I’ve grown a lot from how I was in the past is just my self confidence in who I am, the way I look, and who I want to be. And I think that’s something that a lot of people struggle with and it’s something that I still struggle with but I’ve come a long way and I really think that I’m going to keep growing from here.”
Over the past year, Brianne has grown a lot within herself, and she’s learned so much more about herself and the people around her too. “I traveled by myself for the first time, multiple times, this year. Because of Scream, we went to Louisiana. I went to Paris and Indonesia. I learned a lot by being by myself and I learned a lot by being around people from all over the world. I think I realized that I can’t control everything and that being around people is really good for you because I spent so much time by myself. It was needed but it also helped me realize that I liked being around people,” giggles Brianne, effectively transitioning the atmosphere from serious to relaxed.
Touching on her trip Indonesia, Brianne spoke about her parents growing up overseas, her growing up in America, and how this trip helped her understand more about her culture and identity. “This year I actually went to Indonesia for the first time and I went to where my parents grew up and some of the other parts, but it really helped. I used to really kind of struggle because I didn’t understand some of the beliefs or behaviors of my parents, you know. I didn’t understand where they were rooted from, because I didn’t really see it around me here in America,” she explains. “I think growing up with my parents, I’m grateful for it because I’ve been exposed to so much more and they’ve really kept me grounded because they came from such a grounded background. Going to Indonesia, I got to understand why my parents are the way they are and I’ve come to respect them and appreciate them more.”
As far as her future goes, Brianne has set a few goals she hopes to achieve within the next five years, which there is no doubt that she will. “I hope to have graduated college with a bachelor’s degree,” she says. “I was originally majoring in business but I think I’m going to switch to communications.” Continuing, she says, “I hope to be on a show working and maybe doing movies. I’d also like to have written a script. It’s something I’m working on now but I hope to have finished it five years from now,” laughs Brianne.
Something that Brianne is passionate about and has always respected is indie films. “I think I’ve always appreciated indie films. In fact, I went to the Sundance Directors Lab when I was ten years old. I did an indie film and what I love about it is that everybody there is so invested in the project and the art of filmmaking, you know? They don’t necessarily have the biggest budgets or the biggest celebrities playing roles in their films but that doesn’t matter because it’s really about the passion. Everybody there was so passionate so it’s really nice to be in an environment where it’s not about making money and where it’s not about necessarily how you look or how many fans are gonna be watching; it’s just about making movies that you’re passionate about and that you think will transcend with an audience. And so I think that’s why indie films a lot of the time do blow up and get big and become mainstream – it’s because they’ve achieved their goal but it’s through a passionate route. I think that’s why indie films are so great and that they should be supported more.”
When asked to say anything to her fans, Brianne couldn’t decide at first. “There’s so much!” she laughs before getting a little more serious. “I think I would tell them that right now, because I’m mostly talking to teens so, I think right now life might seem hard – I know when I was in high school, if felt really difficult and it felt like no one understood me. But I think it’s important to remember life is so much better after high school,” laughs Brianne once more, though the seriousness is still evident. “It gets better. You meet more people. It was so funny, going into college, it was weird to see how many different perspectives there are out there like not everyone is going to be in this little bubble that is high school and not everyone is going to be trying to impress each other or thinking the same thing. The world is a much bigger place – explore it. Find who you are and meet people. Give in to everything the world has to offer you.”