Beautiful Stranger: The Ballad of Savana Jade Wehunt
By Staff Writer Steve Boyd*
Savana Jade Wehunt, like many of the zombie actors on AMC’s smash “THE WALKING DEAD”, is called on to play many roles. Whether human or zombie, alive or dead, Savana makes it happen. With roles scattered throughout the television mythology, Savana Jade Wehunt has solidified herself as a silent force to be reckoned with.
Off screen, she’s one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet.
But don’t let the pretty face fool you.
WalkingTheWalkingDead.com was fortunate to chat with Miss Wehunt a few months back (just before Season 3 aired) to talk about her roles, her goals and what motivates her to get her zombie on.
WALKINGTHEWALKINGDEAD.COM: Savana, thanks for taking a few minutes out of your very busy schedule to allow us an interview. I’m sure you’ve been asked this a lot, but has it always been your dream to be one of the frightfully scary, flesh-eating undead?
SAVANAJADEWEHUNT: From an early age I have been watching scary movies, one of the first scary movies I can remember watching is The Birds which to me weren’t very scary. I love how scary movies draw peoples’ attention. I started getting into the haunt genre more when I was 14 when I started working for Creepers Haunted House. That’s where I learned how to be a flesh eating zombie. Since then I have worked for Six Flags Fright Fest and Folklore Haunted house. I guess you could say it is one of my dreams to become a flesh eating monster!
WTWD: With stand-in parts for Carl and Sophia as well as your zombie character in THE WALKING DEAD not to mention the WEBISODES, you’ve contributed a pretty significant amount in the mythology in just two seasons. What’s been the most challenging part for you or do you just take it all in stride?
SJW: I guess the most challenging part is to keep up with the crazy filming hours and be able to stay alert and in character. I also go to school full time but I make it a priority to just go with the flow and keep focused on my priorities.
WTWD: I’ve seen you out in the convention circuit making rounds. Do you enjoy meeting fans and what’s the one question you’re constantly asked by them?
SJW: I absolutely love meeting fans of the show, I love hearing the input that they have on what parts they did and did not like and what things they would like to see happen in the future. I am constantly asked by fans how long my makeup takes, which is a great question but it seems to be one of the most popular questions. Sometimes I’m asked what is their favorite cast member is really like.
WTWD: Speaking of fans, there’s A LOT of them. Were you familiar with THE WALKING DEAD comic book before getting involved with production of the TV show?
SJW: Sadly no I was not aware of the comic books. I didn’t know much about the comics until the first season premiered in 2010. Since then I’ve started reading them and I am more seasoned in the similarities and differences between the show and the comics. A lot of fans do ask me questions about the comics as well. I like to be able to talk about them too!
WTWD: I’ve heard in different interviews you’ve given that your interest in acting began around the age of 10 in productions at both church and school so this must have been something you’ve always wanted to do on some level. Who’s been your biggest fan and supporter over the years?
SJW: Ever since I was little I have wanted to be on the stage and have all eyes on me. My biggest fan I would have to say is my mom. She has always supported me in my career and has given me some great advice along the way.
WTWD: There are some actors who don’t watch the shows they star in. This may be a silly question, but do you watch THE WALKING DEAD and if so, what’s your favorite episode and why?
SJW: I usually watch The Walking Dead religiously so I can spot myself when I am on. Now one silly thing that I do is that I don’t watch the video or audio interviews that I do. For some reason it just makes me really nervous to watch myself speaking as myself. Or any of the other things I have done that I am myself and not a zombie. My favorite episode would have to be the finale of last year, I saw myself several times and it really showed how the characters in the next season would behave.
WTWD: You’ve given pointers and lessons to people on how to walk like a zombie. Personally, I think it’s something people would pay money for. Like Zombie School starring Savana Jade Wehunt. Do you think you can teach anyone to be a zombie or are there some students that just can’t cut it?
SJW: In my opinion, anyone can be a zombie. It’s all about letting lose and having fun or zoning out like do. For some people it comes naturally and many it takes a little bit of extra coaching. I would love to do zombie schools on the side; it is so much fun to meet new people!
WTWD: We’ve been fortunate enough to interview Chandler Riggs here at WTWD.com and you’ve played his stand-in. This means our site now has complete coverage of all things Carl Grimes. Which episodes have you played his stand-in in?
SJW: Well, I have played Chandler’s stand in for so many episodes I tend to forget. I remember being his stand in for much of the first half of last season. I stunt double when he was shot. Andy carried me and ran to the farm house to set up that shot. And in the bed at the farm house. And I played his photo double when Carl shot Shane. Chandler is a great young man to work with and I still can’t believe we are 7 years apart and I’m playing his stand in!
WTWD: Why do you think the horror films (or TV shows), particularly ones with zombies, are so popular?
SJW: I think that shows and movies with zombies are so popular because in many ways it can become very realistic. Even the CDC believes that it can happen! I also believe that people like the idea of having someone come back to life after dying so they never really lose a loved one in the first place. Today there are so many different theories that I can’t see how someone couldn’t believe it.
WTWD: Season Three is right around the corner and I understand you were asked to come back and help out. Without giving anything away (because I know how that would be bad)can you give me 3 words that would best describe what you know of Season Three? Or hey, spill the beans about Season Three. Whichever you’re most comfortable with.
SJW: Hahaha. I wish I could tell you guys but my zombie lips are sealed! I can tell you in three words how season 3 is gonna be: Epic, Apocalyptic and Jaw-Dropping (may be some literal jaw drops, haha).
WTWD: Let’s step away from THE WALKING DEAD for a couple questions. I understand you’re in college and you’re studying (unless you changed your major) early childhood education. My wife is a preschool teacher and I also heard the call of the teacher when I was in college. What made you decide to go into this field of study?
SJW: From a young age I was always interested in teaching and learning. I use to play school with my sister and grandmother during the summers and line my Barbies and Beanie Babies up and teach them school lessons during the school year. When deciding my major I realized that teaching is a lot like acting and being on a stage just in a different setting. I love young kids and their imaginations are so big that even I am blown away by them.
WTWD: I’m sure there are lots of 10-year olds out there that are getting involved in school plays and are dreaming of doing what you’ve already done. What would you tell these younglings?
SJW: I would tell them to never give up and always be you. Don’t let anyone change you and always make sure to follow your heart and make the right decisions. Don’t let anyone discourage you. If you have a passion jump head first right in and start swimming!
WTWD: You’ve been awesome, Savana. Any upcoming projects you’d like to plug as we come to a close?
SJW: Well thanks so much for giving me the opportunity. I’ve enjoyed answering these questions. I would like to plug a little of what I have been up to. I’ve been working on an independent film called Level 7 which is about zombies resulting from the tsunami in Japan. Also I just worked on a short film called Zombie City which is about a group of people fighting off zombies. I held zombie school for that and I am actually NOT a zombie in this film. In a few weeks I will be working on a remake of Night of the Living Dead in Virginia. I will be a lead ghoul and the ghoul coordinator. Thanks again for letting me interview with you and I hope all you TWD lovers are ready for season 3!
**Steve Boyd is the Director of ComicCollectorLive.com, co-host on the FANBOY BUZZ podcast and a HUGE fan of THE WALKING DEAD in any genre. His wife has permission to kill him if and ONLY if he’s the first to turn.