Emma Roberts’ ‘Scream Queens’ Character Inspired By Viral Sorority E-Mail

TCA 2015: Creator Ryan Murphy, stars Lea Michele, Jamie Lee Curtis talk about the show’s feminist message, “American Horror Story” influence


Fox’s “Scream Queens” is a fantastical horror comedy, but it has more roots in reality than people may expect.

Emma Roberts‘ queen bee, Chanel, was born out of a sorority manifesto that went viral, creator Ryan Murphy shared onstage at the Television Critics’ Association’s summer press tour Wednesday.

The email came from a sorority sister at Delta Gamma sorority’s University of Maryland chapter, and went viral in April 2013. It contained an expletive-filled, racist and homophobic rant about how members of the sorority were supposed to behave.

“We were interested in mirroring that idea,” said Murphy. “Unlike that girl, who apologized and resigned, we wanted to bring our queen bee character to some sort of awareness about her behavior.”

The whole show was conceived in 2013 when Murphy was working on the third installment of his “American Horror Story” anthology series, “Coven.” Murphy had talks about Fox bosses Gary Newman and Dana Walden about potentially spinning off the story into its own ongoing series, but that didn’t pan out, and instead “Scream Queens” was born instead.

The show features original Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis as a mentor figure to a house full of sorority mean girls and awkward pledges, and the actress, who says she grew up in the age of feminism, mirrors what’s happening in society at the moment.

“I’m trying to live and work with a group of young women, it’s a very different… Wendy Wasserstein would love this show,” Curtis said, referencing the famous feminist and playwright. “It’s saying it like it is right now. And to be honest, the way it is right now is challenging. The show is going to expose that and create a dialogue. Not to get heavy. It’s super funny! But it will ask the question, and it’s an important question to be asked in today’s society. This is going to expose that in a very big way.”

As an anthology series like “American Horror Story,” Murphy says he’d be open to see the current cast members, which also includes Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer, Diego Boneta and Niecy Nash, return.

“There is a great whodunit quality to the show that we like,” he said. “People need a reason to show up every week. We went into that with all the actors in a really cool way. For the most part, everybody has the ability — if they do live — to have a conversation about whether they’d like to com back next season. Yes, they send muffin baskets, they’re interested in if they’re coming back. They really were all of our first choices. This is a fun experiment for us.”

“Scream Queens” will premiere with a two-hour series premiere episode on Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.