“Reginald The Vampire” Stars Talk Body Positivity, Acting & More In Our Interview

November 21, 2022

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely is the owner of HorrorFuel.com. She is an Executive Producer of "13 Slays Till Christmas" which is out on Digital and DVD and now streaming on Tubi. She has several other films in the works. Kelli is an animal lover and a true horror addict since the age of 9 when she saw Friday the 13th. Email: [email protected]

Last month SYFY’s new series “Reginald the Vampire” made its premiere. A mix of horror and comedy, with a dash of drama, the series follows Reginald (Jacob Batalon), a down-and-out guy, who is way too nice, as he copes with life as a newly made vampire sired by Maurice (Mandela Van Peebles). Reginald is caught up in the dangerous world and politics of the undead and the drama between Maurice and his sire/ex Angela (Savannah Basley), all while trying to maintain his humanity so he can be with the girl of his dreams (Em Haine).

 

We talked with Mandela and Savannah about their characters and got their take on the series that airs on both SYFY and USA right after episodes of season 2 of “Chucky.”

 

 

 

Mandela: “Tell us about your relationship with Reginald. It seems like he wants to be friends with Reginald, but he also kind of feels burdened by him.”

 

Mandela: “I think as far as the relationship between Maurice and Reginald is concerned, nobody saw it coming. I think Maurice’s goal in life really has been revenge since those days in Portland with the whole backstory of my family and how that went down with Angela. So I think revenge has been really what’s kept me going over the years. And obviously, in the pilot, we meet Reginald and my intention is not to be his friend. At first, he looks quite tasty but hearing how life is going for him and his lack of friends, I think it gives Maurice an opportunity to see the good in humanity. And it’s kind of a save-a-cat moment for my character instead of eating him, letting him live out his fantasy and his dream. So glamorizing him and allowing him to shoot a shot with Sarah, all of that is unexpected and not planned. And then also the responsibility of, if I didn’t interject in his life, he wouldn’t be a vampire in the first place. So now having Saved him and being responsible for him, how do I keep him alive? And I think it’s kind of an unexpected friendship in a way that turns Maurice’s driving force from revenge to really actually feeling like a human again and making a friend and having a connection outside of just Angela.”

 

Mandela Van Peebles with Jacob Batalon S1E1
Credit: James Dittiger/SYFY

 

Kelli: “So, Savannah, tell us about your character, Angela. She’s a mean one.”

 

Savannah: “I know, she is kind of mean. Yeah. There are times, and I said this before, but there would be times when I would be in a scene and I’d have to between takes I would go, ‘Jacob, I’m so sorry.’ And he’d say, ‘I know it’s your character. It’s just character.’ But I just feel so bad saying these things, like no matter to who I would be saying this, ‘I’m sorry that I have to direct this in your direction.’ Yeah. So there were a few moments like that, but I think hurt people, and I think that there are definitely layers to Angela and she’s not completely just a mean person. I think the way that she handles people could be improved. But I do think that Angela is someone who has just gone through a lot in her life, and she’s a survivor at the base of things. Everything she kind of does is, it’s the long play. She’s always thinking, she’s always planning. I like to say Angela is always playing chess. And I think in order for her to be alive for 400 years, she would have to put herself first. And I believe that she may have just gotten lost a little bit in that journey in terms of who she really was. So I think right now we’re just seeing her at that, the height of her forgetting her humanity. And I think when Maurice comes in, he kind of reminds her, oh yeah, there were things that I wanted to do with my life and there were things that I wanted to change. And I think he kind of triggers those memories for her and starts things trickling down. A change is gonna happen with Angela.”

 

 

Savannah Basley S1E2 Credit: James Dittiger/SYFY

 

Kelli: “Okay. Now, this kinda is about both of your characters. There is a whole lot of body shaming and a lot of just talking trash about Reginald. Did that affect y’all on set? Because I mean, there’s a lot of stuff and both your characters comment on it.”

 

Mandela: “Yeah, I think, as we said, there’s kind of a situation where you’re two people at once. You’re yourself and you’re the character and where the story has to go and what has to happen in the script. But as yourself, you definitely feel a certain way. Luckily, Jacob is such an awesome guy to work with, and you really felt that everybody’s friends, and we all know that this is a safe space. And what we’re saying is Maurice or Angela or Reginald isn’t how we as people feel. And I think that it was a safe space, everybody was on the same page and everybody wanted to tell the story. So I think kind of tackling it from that angle was empowering in a way.”

 

Savannah: “Yeah, I mean, definitely when I first started, there was a part of me that was like, I’m not a size two, so who the hell am I to be playing this character that is going around telling people what you’re supposed to look like? So there was a part of me that was a little nervous, but I also think Mandela was saying with Jacob there was such, he does have a vision for the story that he wants to tell along with everyone else, but especially Jacob. And there’s a way that he wants to go about it. And, well, it might not be for some people, but there are also some people that don’t respond to the same things that everyone else does. And for Jacob, I think he wanted to do body positivity in his own way. And I think knowing that he had, they had a vision and he proved of this vision and he said, yes, I wanna tell the story this way.”

 

Mandela: “Having him be on board for that definitely made it more of a safe place because you trusted that. You were like, ‘okay, I trust in the vision that you guys are making and the way that you wanna tell this story.’ And Jacob is saying, ‘yes,’ go ahead. You know what I mean, having that permission? So it definitely made it a safe place, and I just hope that it resonates with people. And if it doesn’t resonate with you, there are tons of other things that you know, can go find body positivity and things in that. But for some people, they’re gonna be able to find able to really relate with it and relate with Jacob. So I think that that’s important as well.”

 

Kelli: “Gotcha. Okay. All right. Now the show itself is, there’s a lot of humor mixed in with the blood. How did you both find your mojo for your characters?”

 

Mandela: “I would say kind of bouncing between these different tones. I find that Reginald and the vampires is kind of a genre-bender in a way where we bounce from horror to drama, to love stories to comedy, and it keeps it fresh, it keeps it exciting. So when you’re on set, it allows you to switch colors and change gears, and get into a new groove, which then pushes the story forward in a different direction. So it helps with the twists, it helps with the pace changes, and we have such a big cast where everybody’s got their own story going on. So it just helps transition from piece to piece. When you can take a break from one tone or one genre and still stay in the same series but hop into another mood, I think that’s fun and exciting.”

 

Savannah: “Yeah, I just think the writing really just allowed for you to be able to jump in tones, but also depending on the characters that you were interacting with. I just love the cast. I think everyone is just so talented and everyone brings different things to each scene and each character and the type of humor or type of comedy you use changed, depending on who you were with. When I was in a scene with Jacob, I played it more straight because it was just so much more fun for the comedy to come from him being active in the comedy and me being more reactive or with my little minions, Georgia and Sean, they were really great too. They brought such little things that there are so many things that you don’t even see in every single tape. There’d be something else that they would do that just allowed for to play off of that stuff. But definitely, just the writing and just our talented cast just really did allow for those tones to jump and everyone was really on the same page, so that really worked too.”

 

Kelli: “Okay. This is a hard question, and it’s for both of y’all. What is your favorite scene in season one and why?”

 

Mandela: “For me, I gotta say it’s hard to pick one. And I can’t really go into all of them because some of them haven’t aired yet. So spoiler alert. But I think I really had a lot of fun with that initial scene of the prayer with Jacob when he is outside of the Slushie Shack. That was the scene that I did in the audition as well. That’s the scene we did for the chemistry read. And maybe the viewers don’t know this, but we didn’t shoot chronologically. So by the time that scene was up, we had filmed other stuff and it was just awesome to see the different renditions of it throughout the months of the first time we did it together. And just see how it grew with our relationship. I think that was pretty interesting.”

 

Savannah: “Cool. For me, my favorite scene, for me, was definitely the scene with Maurice’s mom. And yes, that scene to me was so important to Angela’s character, to me at least. I know that yes, she’s mean, but that really showed her the length that she could go to. But also, I think it kind of really shows how her humanity was really lost for a moment there. And it just seemed like such an important scene. And it was just so great to film. The woman who played Mandela’s mom, she was a really great scene partner to work with and she gave me a lot. And before the scene, we talked a lot about the dynamics of the scene and stuff, so that was really great to just be able to do that.

 

I remember feeling and reading it and feeling like this was such an important scene for her, but it was also a lot of fun to play. I know that sounds weird cuz it was so messed up. But there’s a freedom in it to be able to play that kind of evil because normally you have a filter and you don’t wanna do that to people. And yeah, I don’t know, there was just something about it that was just a lot of fun to play, but also just seemed like a very important scene to Angela, but also to Maurice to Marisa’s story, cuz that’s really the catalyst for what sets off our hatred for each other.”

 

Kelli: “Now, at the core of your characters, what resonates most with you?”

 

Mandela: “So what resonates with Mandela about Maurice? Well, I would say with any role I play, I try to inject a bit of myself into it because it just helps me ground it in reality for me and truth. And I think a lot of acting isn’t just acting, it’s about reacting and putting yourself in those scenarios and how you would feel and really just making the best-educated guess you can. And that’s where scene study and developing your character’s backstory and all those things come into play. But whether it’s things that I would react to or putting myself in my grandfather’s shoes of someone born in that era, what he would say, or how he would walk, or what he would wanna wear. I’d say a lot of it is stuff you pick up along the way, but the essence of it is still you. And I think that’s one of the great things about being an actor is you get to put on so many different hats and keep it fresh in that way. But at the end of the day, you know, go home and you’re still yourself. So I would say it’s hard to quantify what exactly is me and what’s Maurice, but it gets blurry and that’s the beauty of it.”

 

Kelli: “Well said.”

 

Savannah: “Mandela said there’s always an essence of you in any character you play. And I think I just try, for me at least, I always try to come at it as a character from a place of understanding. I’m someone who’s a big advocate for mental health and all of that. So for me, I kind of take it more from a standpoint of what is Angela’s trauma. What is it that is, I’m going into it from some so like millennial, gen Z about it. But yeah, it’s kind of like, what is it that is motivating her? Why is she so angry and where can I relate to that? What in my life have I gone through where I can be like, okay, I can see where she’s coming from and that anger or Yeah, really just an understanding And I, I guess to bring my empathy to the character in terms of trying to understand where she’s coming from so that she’s not always just an evil person. There is a reason why she’s doing these things. I may not agree with them and the audience may not agree with them, but there is a reason why. And yeah, I guess I don’t know if that is a thing that I, about what I mean the empathy thing, but I definitely think that that’s something that I bring. But I will say my mother does watch the show and occasionally she’ll say, that was you. That was all you [laughter].”

 

Kelli: “Moms [laughter]. Give me an example?”

 

Savannah: “Just a way that I’ll give a look to someone or the way that I’ll say something. She’s just like, that is full on you. Yeah, the looks, the side eyes, the dirty looks. I listen, let’s just say I have gotta tell my face to use its inside voice a lot.”

 

Kelli: “That’s great.”

 

Savannah: “Angela has a bit of a resting witch face. I take after my mother, there’d be times when me and my sister would be like, ‘You ask! Mom, are you okay?’ And she’d be like, what? Yeah, I’m fine. Why? So I guess it’s, yeah.”

 

Kelli: “I have one of those faces too.”

 

Savannah: “We’re just, we’re not gonna wrinkle us. We’re just preventing wrinkles [laughter].”

 

Kelli: “Exactly [laughter]. I have to ask, is there any word yet about a second season?”

 

Mandela: “Yeah, [laughter] fingers crossed. No word. We don’t even know. And I’m not just saying that just to be facetious, we don’t know.”

 

Kelli: “Well, I hope we get to see the story continue. You two are awesome and of course, we want o see more of Reginald too.”

 

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out “Reginald the Vampire.” It has something for everyone. Besides, you need to see Mandela van Peebles and Savannah Basley in action, they do an amazing job!

 

For more on the series, and to watch episodes please visit the series’ page on SYFY.com and be sure to follow Mandela and Savannah on Instagram to stay up to date on what they’re working on.

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