Yandy Smith-Harris stars in the new BET+ film, The Deadly Getaway, alongside Jeff Logan, Princess Love Norwood and Jason Weaver. In the film, Smith-Harris’s character, Hope, and her boyfriend, played by veteran actor Weaver, decide to try something different for their anniversary and go away for a romantic camping trip, but the plans go awry. The arrival of Hope’s obsessive ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend complicates things for the couple, and tensions and jealousy start to boil over. The cabin’s owners go missing and dark secrets are revealed, causing the trip to take a scary and possibly deadly turn.

Smith-Harris and Logan spoke with Blavity’s Shadow and Act to discuss their new horror film. The former hip-hop manager shared secrets about her transition from reality star to actor, and Logan shared what drew him to the horror film. Both actors also shared what it was like to work with Weaver.

Jeff, what about this film, specifically a horror film, made you want to participate? Because I know that this genre can be off-limits for some.

JL: Some don’t watch it; they refuse to watch it because they think that it can kind of happen in real life. They’re like, ‘Oh, I want to stay away from watching that because it might happen to me. I might attract that to me,’ or something. but I like it. Hannibal and just weird, crazy killers. And it hasn’t been prevalent in the urban genre. You rarely see a Black serial killer that’s put together. So I wanted to tackle that as something that I’d never done before.

Now I know that filming a horror film — from what we see in post-production with the final edit — can be a lot different. Yandy, were there any scary elements during the filming process?

YSH: There were tons of scary elements. We were using real guns. They had doubles for certain stunts, but all of us were kind of like, ‘We’re going to do our own stunts.’ We know we’re acting, but we didn’t want things to look fake. We didn’t want things to look super contrived. So we were like, ‘No, let’s really fight.’ There’s a scene with myself and someone else, and we have a real fight. I left with a busted lip. She left with a black eye because we were like, ‘Let’s just go all the way in.’ And we went completely in the whole time. And Jeff as well. He was really shooting a real gun. So, we had medics on set. We used weapons and stuff like that because we were like, ‘We really want this to be something that seems real, and we want it to be able to captivate the audience.’ And the only way to really do that is acting — without acting like you’re acting.

Now working alongside a veteran like Jason Weaver, who has been in the business since he was a child, what tools did you guys take from him during the filming process?

YSH: I filmed a lot with Jason. Jason is such a perfectionist. I got this script probably a month in advance because not only was I in it, but I also helped with casting and producing. I really knew the script. I knew the script backward and forward. Jason will walk in and he’s like, ‘I just got off set. I was shooting for this, and I had to do the teaser.’ So he can literally sit there and learn his entire scene that we had to do for a few days in a few hours before and would not mess up. He’s like, ‘I don’t have to go and memorize the whole script for a whole month, I can literally look at it and then the day of the scene I got it.’ Literally, he did that. I watched him do it every day.

JL: Jason is a professional in every sense of the word. Working with somebody who is so weathered and fully immersed in this, it shows. It also brings you up to that level as well. When he’s doing a really good job and his acting is just sort of natural — he just rolls off the tongue and his mannerisms and everything else. You pick up his professionalism.

YSH: And for me, this was my first time really having this large of a role and going through so many different emotions. Throughout this process, I start doing crazy things and I’m in love. Then I am super sympathetic, and then I’m back to being a crazy maniac. But there are moments where I really had to be vulnerable, and I really had to kind of love and all those different things. It can feel strange to have to be so close and so intimate with a man that you’re just meeting. Jason was so professional and so comforting in those moments. It just made the role of Hope so much easier and so much better.

Jeff, tell us about the filming process. Did you guys film on location anywhere?

JL: We filmed in Prince George County. They welcomed us to a film festival where we had the first showing of the movie. We shot in this swamp [and] woods and cabin area. And it was true to everything as far as the humidity, weather and storms. The production allowed us to just be fully immersed in these roles, whether it was from what they got us to eat or just not having to drive anywhere and really being able to lock in. But the location in P.G. County was amazing. And it was like you weren’t even in D.C. because we were in the woods. Those woods could have been anywhere, and it really looked way bigger than it was, and it was secluded. And, like I said, the swamp, the humidity, flies and everything just added to it. If you’re in here chasing the couple in the woods and it’s hot and you actually really start to sweat, we don’t need any prop sweat, or you don’t have to look disheveled. It helped create the environment needed for the film.

YSH: And it was creepy. The cabins at night were scary. So even without us portraying hard characters, just the setting and the ambience was scary.

Yandy, would you say you can relate to your character? Because she seems like you in terms of being about her business. And in what other ways do you feel you share any similarities?

YSH: I think Hope goes hard for those she loves. And I don’t think that there is any recourse or anything that will hold her back from going as far as she needs to make sure people that she loves are taken care of. And I think I’m a lot like that as well. Hope was about her business. Hope was something else. And I think the more you get to know me, I can be something else as well. But she was really something else, so I had to tap into that. Yandy from Harlem, from Bryant Projects. I had to really tap into those moments of like, ‘Let me go back to who I can be in 2.5 seconds if you push the wrong button.’ I had to really tap into that Yandy. It was interesting. It was interesting to really become that character. I am very much like her in terms of ‘don’t mess with my man.’ When Princess’ character was trying to mess with my man, I had to really show her what could happen.

Now, Jeff, in terms of the actual storyline, it starts off with a seemingly innocent couple’s getaway. But there are some secrets that are uncovered. Tell us about the roller-coaster ride that viewers are taken on throughout the film.

JL: It’s funny because there’s a couple of comments. There is always hate and then there’s ignorance that comes along with this. If someone is not prepared for hate, they’re not prepared for success. And some of those people are like, ‘Oh, yeah, they gave up the whole movie in the trailer,’ and I’m like, ‘Y’all didn’t see anything.’

In the way it unfolds, it was my first time seeing the film at the film festival. I was there getting entertained. And because I’m the type of actor where I really focus on my own scenes, I was entertained by the whole thing and the twists and turns. Then when you see how our director brought it all together at the end and you’re putting things together, saying ‘it’s a roller coaster’ is an understatement. It’s more like that roller coaster that brings you up since you were up there for a little bit, and you forget that you were on a roller coaster and then you drop. So, it’s going to be very exciting.


Yandy, you mentioned that you work with casting on the production side. Obviously, we know that you wear a lot of hats in the industry. Something I was interested in speaking to you about is that there seems to be a wave of reality stars transitioning into the acting world. I noticed online that there have been some questions, or criticism, regarding that. What’s been your take, and have you felt any resistance from the acting community, or has it been a seamless transition for you?

YSH: So the thing about me, I didn’t start out in this business as a reality star. That was something that happened because of my business. I started out behind the scenes in management — music management. But even before that, I would take acting classes, I would put my talent into acting classes, and take the classes with them. So, it’s been something that has kind of been threaded and woven throughout my career in this business. 

People say a lot of things. There have been rappers who have tried to act, and there have been actors who have tried to come up with albums. People always want to keep you in the box. It just kind of messes people up because I’ve been in so many different boxes. So now the most prevalent box is the fact that I’m on a reality show. But before being on the reality show, I was in music management for years. So, getting on that show was kind of like, ‘Wait a minute, we’ve seen this girl on tours with The Diplomats, on tour with Missy Elliott, on tour with Busta Rhymes, and with 50 Cent — what is she doing now on reality TV?’ That was something that was so hard for them to grasp and understand. So now that I’m getting into my acting career, it’s again kind of the same thing, like, ‘Wait a minute, what is she doing? I think I just know her in this space.’

So, the more roles and the more people see how serious I am — because I was super serious about this role on the producing side as well. Even when I was producing Love & Hip Hop, I was very serious about that. So, I was very serious in this role. You just have to give people time to catch up.

JL: Yandy was waking up and working until 3 in the morning in P.G. County when it is still 90 degrees outside. You can’t fake any of that. You must really be about your craft. There’s not anything that was a beginner about this film. Yandy’s role and she carried this film, and that’s a very difficult job. It takes a lot of attention to detail.