INTERVIEW: Devery Jacobs Stars In American Gods and Talks About Representation

Devery Jacobs will be starring in season 2 of American Gods and will play the character, Sam Black Crow, who she feels a close connection to because of her own background as an Indigenous woman. Besides acting, Devery is also a director and is standing up for representation through her art. Read more about it below!

How exciting is it for you to be a part of the new season of American Gods! We love the show. Tell us about your role as Sam Black Crow. Do you relate to your character?

I recognize how rarely audiences have seen a character like Sam on screen, so I don’t take playing her lightly. I have been such a fangirl of Neil Gaiman’s novel, American Gods, for years, and I completely connected with Sam Black Crow. As an actual sarcastic, queer Indigenous woman, I thoroughly related to Sam’s experiences and hounded my agent to make sure I auditioned for her. Sam Black Crow is such a fun, meddlesome character whose beliefs are complex. While she’s sarcastic and opinionated, she’s also deeply curious about life, and about Shadow, who she is introduced to and encounters in this upcoming season!

What is your take on Neil Gaiman’s fantastic modern tale of old and new Gods? What has been your favorite part of becoming a part of the show and its story? 

Ultimately, American Gods is about immigrants traveling to this country in a melting pot of varying beliefs, and how our Gods are just normal people, trying to survive day-to-day. My favorite thing about joining this GodSquad is that I get to represent original Americans; by playing a character from the Cherokee Nation. The show is stylistically unparalleled, unapologetically political and I’m so proud to be a part of it. 

When you are taking on characters for show like American Gods, how do you go about connecting with your character? What kind of research do you do?

When I landed the role of Sam, I already loved the novel but I made sure to re-read Gaiman’s work! The incredible thing about playing Sam Black Crow is that instead of researching externally, I have turned inward into my community. There are so few films or series that have accurately explored Indigenous people and our experiences, so in order to do Sam justice, I’ve relied heavily on my upbringing as a Mohawk woman. 

You are also in Netflix’s The Order, which also involves monsters and magic. Tell us about your part in this show.

This character was so fun to play! In The Order, I play the bad-ass Lilith Bathory, a tough-minded young college student who could eat you for breakfast… literally. Because Lilith is also a werewolf. As a member of the Knights Of St. Christopher, she’s a sworn opponent of The Order. She belongs to a secret society of werewolves that hates and despises a rival secret society of magic practitioners. Lilith has a very hard time mastering the virtues of tact and restraint, because her bloodlust is strong. 

I know you directed for the first time on the short film, STOLEN. What is the film about?

STOLEN discusses the national issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and explored how the system plays a part in the disappearances of our girls. It was my debut short film as a writer/director, and combined my passion for Indigenous rights activism (discussing an issue that has affected my own community), with my love of film.

I’ve since released Rae, a short film based on my mom’s upbringing on the Rez in the 70s, that was an official selection of the 2018 Palm Springs Shortfest. 

As an indigenous woman, do you hope to explore more projects behind the camera that represents the everyday life and struggle of Native people? Do you have anything in the works that you can tell us about?

I have multiple projects in the works as a creative behind the lens! While not every project directly deals with Indigenous issues, they each are filled with my voice and perspective as a Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) woman. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out more! 

I admire your passion for indigenous rights and your work as an activist. As the co-founder of Kahnawà:ke Youth Forum, what kind of work do you do with the organization? What is your hope for rights and representation for Natives in the future? How do you hope to use your creativity to pave way for changes? 

When I was a teenager, I was a founder of my reservation’s Youth Forum and was an active participant on the front lines in protests. In recent years though, my focus for creating change has been through art. In Canada, there is more outright discrimination against First Nations people, and I’ve noticed that in America, that Native people are essentially invisible. It is my goal that through representing Indigenous characters on screen and telling our stories behind the camera, that Canadians can greater empathize with their Native counterparts and that Americans will learn that our people and cultures have not only survived, but are thriving.

My hope for the future is that as Indigenous artists, we follow in the footsteps of the Black trailblazers within the film industry, who have opened doors for other artists of color. I believe it is time that we are seen, heard and respected. 

Thank you so much for answering our questions, Devery. We look forward to watching you in American Gods! One last question: if you woke up one day with superpowers, which power would you want and why?

If I could choose any superpower, it would be to speak every language. My first language is English, but I’m learning my traditional language, Mohawk, and can speak conversational French. So much about a person’s perspective is shaped around the language they speak and I would love to see the world through every dialect!

Follow Devery on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Photo Credits: Justine Nelson, STARZ & Netflix.

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