Recently, actress Jamie Brewer welcomed ABILITY’s contributing writer David S. Zimmerman into a sunny and peaceful backyard. Tucked away in a Hollywood, CA, enclave, the two spoke about her part as a clairvoyant witch on the megahit TV show, American Horror Story; her leadership of an important nonprofit organization, and her ultimate dream role. Photographer Michael Hansel tagged along to snap some shots and to ask a few burning questions of his own. Zimmerman got things rolling when he came bearing a gift.
David S. Zimmerman: I got this for you, because it reminded me of you. Be careful, it’s fragile.
(Jamie removes a jeweled wine glass from the gift wrap. Etched into is “Queen Witch.”)
Jamie Brewer: David! Oh, wow! That’s me. (laughs) This is so sweet of you.
Zimmerman: Well, I saw it and said, “I have to buy that.” You can put your Bud Light in it.
Michael Hansel: How did you and David meet?
Brewer: I’m part of this theatre group called the Born To Act Players, and when I first started with them I was doing a play. I forget which one exactly, but David came to it. And ever since, we’ve been really amazing friends.
Zimmerman: How long were you with Born To Act?
Brewer: I’m still with them; it’s just been a while since I’ve done anything because of everything else that’s going on.
Zimmerman: But you’ve done a lot of shows with them.
Brewer: That’s right. I started working with them because when we were moving out here from Texas—where I worked with the Dionysus Theatre, which includes individuals with and without disabilities—I was trying to find a California troupe that was similar to it. I heard about Born to Act, and that’s how I first got involved. I met Mary Rings, and then you, and then everybody who was involved. Moving out here, honestly and truly, has given me a lot of great opportunities.
Zimmerman: Is American Horror Story your first TV series?
Brewer: It is.
Zimmerman: Wow. That’s hitting it out of the park on the first swing, isn’t it?
Brewer: Yes. At the same time, I had been studying acting for a while. I don’t know if I told you—I probably have—that I’ve been a theater girl since eighth grade. It was in college that I learned the basics of theater, the entertainment industry and various mediums.
Hansel: So what do you like about theater?
Brewer: I’ve done a lot of ensemble work and I like that. Performing with Born to Act was my first chance to sing duets. I also love music.
Hansel: So you like to sing—
Zimmerman: —and dance.
Brewer: Yes, dancing is one of the ways that I stay physically fit and healthy.
Zimmerman: You can play a wide age range, from a teenager to a young woman. What would be your dream role?
Brewer: Playing someone’s wife someday or fiancé. I’d also like to play a lawyer because my Aunt Sandy, my mother’s sister, is an attorney. And maybe a cook or a lounge singer—anything that plays to my strengths.
Zimmerman: You’ve already played a number of different roles, from Adelaide on the first season of American Horror Story to Nan on the third season.
Brewer: And also Amanda in a guest-star spot on Southland. It was exciting to be cast opposite Michael Cudlitz, as his so-called girlfriend. That episode was called ‘Heat,’ and it was my first role as somebody’s girlfriend.
Zimmerman: How do you approach learning a new character?
Brewer: Just by being open and ready to study the script.
Zimmerman: When we’re watching you work, you’re so in the moment. I have to say, when I saw you acting in those scenes with [actresses] Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates in American Horror Story you were stunning. Whether you played the multi dimensional Adelaide or the brilliant clairvoyant Nan, you had so many levels to your performances. You made us fall in love with you just by being. I always tell people that there is Jamie playing ball with Jessica Lange! To me, the characters that you play become iconic. And you have a huge fan base.
Brewer: Thank you so much. Yes, I’m almost up to 50,000 Twitter followers.
Zimmerman: I’ve talked to a lot of friends, and they say, “Oh, she’s my favorite on the show.”
Brewer: There was this really surprising moment when we were in Vegas a while back: Stevie Nicks was performing with Lady Antebellum and I got to watch the rehearsal at the MGM. At one point I yelled out, “Stevie!” and then all of a sudden she actually said, right through the mic: “Jamie is my favorite little witch.” It was a total shock. I was excited the whole night. It had been some time since we were on the set of American Horror Story together, and it was great to see her again and reconnect.
Zimmerman: That’s an amazing story. That’s like meeting the queen.
Brewer: Yes, and getting to know her has been great. She invited me to see her place, to spend time with her, and maybe for us to get our hair done together.
Hansel: How fun is that? Getting your hair done with Stevie Nicks!
Brewer: Yeah, she’s an amazing lady.
Zimmerman: She is. So tell me, Jamie, what is your biggest joy?
Brewer: Honestly, David, it’s just being myself and showing who I am from the heart. I have some really great friends who encourage me. I consider everybody I know to be my family.
Zimmerman: It’s true; we’re like family.
Brewer: We are.
Zimmerman: How are you dealing with success? Do you get a lot of people asking for your autograph and wanting to take a picture with you?
Brewer: It depends on where I am. When people recognize me, I stop and treat them with respect.
Zimmerman: You’re very generous and come across as friendly. It’s in your smile. It’s so clear that you were brought up in a loving family.
Brewer: They always encourage me no matter what I want to do.
Zimmerman: I can relate to that with my parents, too.
Brewer: My dad pretends to be my security guard; it’s this cute thing he does. Mom just laughs when he does it. There’s this father/daughter event coming up and my dad and I are going to it. He loves to be my date. We have that kind of bond.
Zimmerman: I read somewhere that you were the youngest person to be elected president of The ARC [for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities] in Fort Bend, TX?
Brewer: That’s true. I’m an artist who also has a business mind. When I was president of The ARC for two years, I brought a sense of order. Coming into office, they told me ahead of time: “This is the thing that’s a mess, and we need someone who has a business mind to put things in order and give us specific things to do.” And with me, they got that. ...
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