A brand new season of American Gods premieres Sunday, March 10 on Starz and with it, audiences will get introduced to several new characters. One of the most important new characters is Sam Black Crow (Devery Jacobs), a half-Cherokee hitchhiking college student that crosses paths with Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) in Season 2. Sam is spiritually cynical for someone who claims to believe in so much and will return if the show is renewed for Season 3. For Jacobs, who is of Kahnawake Mohawk descent, the role marked a chance to play a character that she has always identified very strongly with.
It’s also a role that fans really pushed to be cast with an Indigenous actor, specifically Jacobs. “There was a huge grassroots fan casting movement online where everyone was really pushing for me to play the character. I have always seen so much of myself in Sam so I was so happy to see other people agree. It was so surprising and I’m so thankful,” Jacobs told The TV Junkies. However, knowing that so many people pushed for her means that it “also comes with a lot of pressure to get the character right, and to honor Neil Gaiman’s work.” At the same time though, Jacobs wanted to “ensure I bring my perspective and voice to it. I’m hoping that fans of the book will also feel proud of Sam.”
In addition to living up to high expectations held by herself and fans, there’s another, perhaps more important, reason that Jacobs was so glad to be cast as Sam. “It is important to cast Indigenous actors in Indigenous roles because of the extensive history of whitewashing, misrepresentation and redface. Now is the time to properly represent and tell our stories honestly,” she said.
Jacobs looks beyond her own opportunities this year, which includes a role on CTV’s Cardinal, and points to actresses like Tamara Podemski (Coroner) and Jennifer Podemski, who played her character’s mom on Cardinal. Jacobs calls these women “trailblazers” for Indigenous actors, and said that having Podemski play her mother “was a huge moment for me. I’ve always looked up to her throughout my career.” She adds that seeing more Indigenous actors on screen is so important because it’s very hard when “there’s no clear path for you to follow when you’re used to being the only Native person in the room.”
Sam’s heritage wasn’t the only aspect of her that Jacobs found really important and wanted to get right. There was also her look. She told us that she was involved as the American Gods team took Sam from the pages of a book and brought her to life on screen. Jacobs explains that “we all really wanted to lean into Sam’s queerness,” and with good reason. “Any time you see a queer woman represented on screen, for the most part they are femme. So in creating Sam, she’s much more butch than that,” and given that American Gods “doesn’t shy away from politics,” it’s something everyone was very excited about representing in Sam.
It’s yet another aspect of the character that hit very close to home for Jacobs. “Being raised as an Indigenous queer woman, my existence is inherently political,” she said before adding that she “was happy to be able to bring that truth to the character and really honor the Cherokee nation, as well as two-spirited people — an umbrella term that means queer but within the Indigenous culture and community.”
Her role on American Gods isn’t the only thing keeping Jacobs busy as of late. She can also be seen playing Lilith Bathory in the new Netflix series The Order. The 10 episode supernatural drama series follows college freshman Jack (Jake Manley) as he pledges a secret order and lands in the middle of a war between werewolves and practitioners of dark magic.
“Lilith is a really tough, badass character who could eat you for breakfast, literally because she’s a werewolf,” explains Jacobs. She says that Lilith is “part of the Knights of St. Christopher, sworn enemies of The Order, but there’s kind of a twist in there and more history that goes deeper for Lilith and why she hates it so much.” For Jacobs, The Order was a chance “to be a part of something that’s just a fun show. What really makes The Order different is that there’s an element of comedy throughout it.”
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The Order is available to stream on Netflix worldwide.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.