Screaming Out The Closet: An Interview With Nay Bever

Nay Bever Black horror

Around these parts, we celebrate every corner of marginalized communities. I first found Nay Bever on a panel during San Diego’s Comic Con @ Home back in 2020. The panel, “Horror is Queer” featured Bryan Fuller (Hannibal), Don Mancini (Child’s Play), Lachlan Watson (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), and Nay of course, who was representing her popular podcast Attack of the Queerwolf at the time. The panel graced the feed right when many of us needed her, and the content she and her peers still fight to highlight. Right in the middle of the coronavirus lockdown, the time for sharing stories, perspectives, and information was obligatory.

I (virtually) sat down with Nay Bever to get the best understanding of who she is, her involvement in Shudder’s Queer for Fear: The History of Queer Horror docuseries, her thoughts on horror, and the journey of a professional Black woman in horror.

Dread Central: What’s your horror origin story? How did you get introduced to the genre, and what kept you here?

Nay Bever: I was watching Halloween II in my grandma’s bedroom in Tolono, Illinois, scared out of my mind that I’d get caught. I was too hooked to not try to get away with it though. What 7, 8, 9-year-old wouldn’t be enraptured by Michael Myers? I’m still obsessed with hospitals as a horror film setting because of this movie and still watch the TV cut. It’s so nostalgic for me.

DC: At what point did you decide to pursue horror professionally?

NB: I didn’t do it on purpose, actually. I had quit working in nonprofits and was searching for something fulfilling and sustainable. So I told myself I’d keep saying yes to things even if they scared me shitless. I didn’t want work to define me but also wanted it to align with my passions and interests. Once I started co-hosting Queerwolf, the opportunities kept popping up. I was having fun and finding community and friends and it just worked out. The older I get the more I realize how when you follow your heart, shit works out in ways you never could have imagined for yourself but it’s exactly what you needed. Obviously you bust your ass along the way, but it’s been so pleasant to realize I don’t have to know anything but myself to lead to deeper passions, endeavors, and opportunities.

DC: Before readers dive into your podcasting and producing portfolio, can you recommend three horror movies that pair well with who you are as an artist?

NB: Children of the Corn because hello, religious trauma. Cerdita because I love fat revenge. Hellbender because I too inherited something from my mother that is maybe magic but also maybe mental illness.

DC: Can you tell us about the birth of Queer for Fear? How did you get involved?

NB: Queer for Fear came about after Shudder’s Horror Noire set horror fans ablaze. Folks were thirsty for more. Horror Noire is a genius, must-see documentary about the history of Black folks in horror, and people wanted a deep dive into queer horror history as well. I began as an interviewee but got pulled onto the team starting as a consultant. I never imagined I’d end up co-producing, but I’m grateful to have had my contribution recognized. A dream come true. I often reflect on the whole timeline and am like… damn that was fuckin’ cool and surreal.

DC: Who were you most excited to host for the Queer for Fear interviews?

NB: Whew. So many people had me hype. There were icons like Kevin Williamson (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer), Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman), and Don Mancini (Child’s Play) coming on set daily. I think that my most surreal moments happened listening to Rachel True (The Craft, Half Baked) but then again I was so captivated by Tawny Cypress (Yellowjackets, Heroes) that I haven’t shut up about her since. James Duval (Donnie Darko, Independence Day) had me sobbing quietly while listening to him talk about losing loved ones during the AIDS crisis. It’s really hard to pinpoint who excited me most.

DC: Is there something that you were excited to have learned during your time co-producing Queer for Fear for Shudder?

NB: So many things, really. Stories from interviewees about what inspired them left me giddy but I must say that what I found to be most moving was listening to the personal hardships interviewees endured while creating shows and films that we all love. Kevin Williamson talked about having to borrow $20 to buy an ink cartridge to print out his Scream script. Amanda Bearse (Fright Night) talked about coming out in the 90’s and it had me super emotional thinking about her doing something that would impact my life decades later, years before I would come out to myself or be able to engage in my own activism.

Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) took my breath away several times. Kim Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Carrie (2013)) talked about Matthew Shephard being murdered while she was making Boys Don’t Cry and the real-time impacts it had and the heartbreak it was for her and the crew. We have hours and hours of interview footage full of gems. It all feels so priceless to me.

DC: In the greater horror industry, what peeves you? With your experience representing several marginalized communities, how would you suggest changing that pet peeve?

NB: All the wrong people have imposter syndrome. I would encourage all of us to support our friends and beloved colleagues when we see them struggling with their insecurities. I have friends where I highly respect them and their work who tell me to believe in myself as much as they believe in me. That shuts my insecurities right up because I trust them and I’d believe them about anything else, so why not about me? The other side of that coin is there are plenty of people who never feel insecure or humble who are mediocre as hell, and you know what? I’m inspired by that, too lol. A little delulu can go a long way.

DC: Attack of the Queerwolf is on pause, but if you had absolutely no restrictions, and the stars aligned; alive or dead, real or fictional, who would you book for a podcast recording?

NB: I desperately want to talk to Lil Nas X. I think he’s so fucking cool and often imagine what it would have meant to me to see him and his art as a kid. I’m obsessed with how often he brings out the Satanic Panic in people and how he trolls the trolls on social media. He’d be so good in a horror movie. We need that. Lil Nas X as a vampire or as a final boy? Are you fucking kidding me? I’d die.

DC: Besides the obvious, what is something that you are proud to have accomplished?

NB: I went home for a while recently and it made me feel proud to have left there. I feel so incredibly lucky to be living my life in a way that brings me a lot of joy and freedom. I’ve never been more myself. It’s a huge privilege and honestly very badass. I feel like I’ve fought tooth and nail to be myself and I’ll do it til I die.

DC: After a successful podcast and an Emmy-nominated docuseries under your belt, what’s next for Nay Bever?

NB: Shit. I wish I knew! I have several really cool projects in development. A script, a podcast, etc. Who doesn’t? I just keep throwing shit out here and there to see what lands. I know one of these days something is gonna hit. And even if “hit” never means money growing on trees, I’m doing things I love and being myself and that makes me content with what I have and eager to see what happens when I take the leaps.

Keep an eye on Nay Bever on Instagram. You’ll be glad you did.



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