Samantha Win is a former stuntwoman and Canadian actress who is currently making her mark in the Hollywood film industry. She is now acting in Zack Snyder’s latest zombie movie, “Army of the Dead”, where she plays the role of a trendy yet strong woman named Chambers.
Our exclusive interview with Samantha shows us that she is not just ready to take on the zombie world with a red bandana tied across her forehead, but she’s also ready to take on the real world with a heart filled with positivity in her day to day life too. Samantha is a fun, loving, and determined personality that has a lot of insight to share and a lot of love to give!
1. Your latest film, Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” will debut this May. What can audiences around the world expect from this exciting post-apocalyptic action-movie?’
I think what audiences can expect is something that hasn’t been done in the zombie genre before. I think a lot of times people walk into a film, and they know that their zombies, and they’re expecting either a horror or they’re expecting something like “World War Z” – something in one of those two ballparks. But I think what makes “Army of the Dead” special is that it hits so many different genres. There is an action-heist movie, there is a zombie-thriller, there is comedy, there is a heartfelt family story in it, it has so much for all different types of viewers to enjoy. So I think it’ll stand out for people. And then you throw that in the backdrop of Las Vegas, and it just makes for a super fun movie.
2. “Army of the Dead” takes a bank heist storyline, which typically falls only under thriller and action genres, and transforms it into a horror film with zombies. What was it like to be a part of such a thrillingly unconventional narrative?
On a personal level, just from my own point of view, it was so exciting because it was truly an ensemble film. And I think that comes with the nature of any heist film. It really takes the time to show each character as their own, and how they play their own part in accomplishing the goal. Zombie culture, I feel like, also has the tendency to do that. Each character has like its own and they have their own story, so I think being a part of a cast in a movie that hit both of those genres was super fun because not only was it an ensemble film where each character was well developed and had their own personalities, but then the casting was so global that each actor was also from a different country and brought their own perspective and their own cultures to the role as well. So that was the most gratifying part of being a part of that cast.
But when it comes to it being a heist thriller on its own, it’s not a genre I’ve gotten to work in before. I’ve worked in a lot of superhero kind of fantasy projects before, so to be able to be a part of a bank heist film was a new experience for me. And, you know, you have Dave Bautista leading it and it gave me so much trust in the project. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
3. You play the role of ‘Chambers’ wearing a distinct red bandana that’s hard to miss. What is this character about and how did it feel for you to play her?
I do feel like Chambers went through an evolution before she really landed on who we will all see once the film comes out. It’s interesting, her backstory is one that is closely connected to Guzman’s character. And so, it is a very street vibe and Guzman is a YouTube influencer. But then, when you look at the personal skill sets that I brought in, it was with such a heavy action and martial arts background. It was a fun way to make those two sides of the same coin. Because the route that was initially thought of was he’s an influencer style, perhaps Chambers is also an influencer stye. But then to be able to have the cool action and the martial arts that I perhaps could bring, it was a fun way to make that still work.
A perfect example would be the bandana that you brought up. Originally it was going to be tied up top, kinda cute, like an influencer might wear a bandana in the modern world. And so, the adjustment was that maybe it would be across the forehead, kinda badass to have the merriment of ‘this is still a cool woman who has skills and she’s confident in herself’. She’ll wear the bandana, but she’ll wear it in the tough way instead.
4. The form of Martial Arts that you practiced is known as Wushu. What exactly does practicing Wushu encompass?
Wushu is a performance martial art. So, it is one where people might assume that I’m so tough and I can fight anyone, but really it’s all for show and I hope no one really attacks me because I don’t know what I’d do. But it is a very beautiful martial art with so much culture and history to it. The reason I became obsessed with it was because I saw Jet Li performing and I thought his movements was so beautiful and his work was so beautiful, and so I thought I want to be just like I him. I took it up and fell in love with the sport, people, and the community that it attracts. It was just the time of my life. But the training part of it was very challenging, it made me who I am today.
There were many times where I’d have to excuse myself to go throw up because I was so exhausted and I had run too much or, I don’t know, emotionally wrecked. Because when you exhaust yourself to a point it feels like you become emotionally raw. But I experienced all of that with a very close group of team mates and we were all going through it together. And I feel like, the bonds you make when you physically suffer together forms a very true bond. Everyone that I trained with and worked with in that time of my life will always hold a very special part in me and it taught me a lot about work, people, and work ethic. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I think that is a very big reason as to why I am who I am today.
5. You’re a double Gold-medalist in the 2006 and 2008 Pan-American Wushu Championships, Bronze medalist in the 2007 World Wushu Championships and also competed at the 2008 Olympic Exhibition Wushu Event in Beijing representing Canada. These are all mind blowing accomplishments that came from all the hard work you just spoke about! What was it like to excel in this combat sport?
It was waking up everyday and feeling so grateful for my life. Really, because I know there are certain things that you can’t pick. Like you can’t pick your parents and some things people might naturally gravitate towards, some things will be more difficult for certain people right out of the gate. And so I felt really grateful that I was able to keep up because I love the sport so much. I’m glad that I could experience competing at a high level. So I was just overwhelmed with the gratitude everyday. And then of course, being able to stay in an Olympic village and stand on the floor of the birds nest and admire all of the other athletes was literally a once in a lifetime experience because Wushu was never a part of Olympics at all since then. It was a one year, once in a lifetime thing and I’m really glad I was the age I was at, that I was competing at that time – there were so many factors that all lined up perfectly and I feel grateful for it. I guess the main thing now is that it’s been helping me a lot in my resume, so that’s the other part of it!
6. You kickstarted your career in the entertainment industry as a stuntwoman and then went on to be a full-time actress. In your own words, how significant were your skills in Martial Arts towards accomplishing this?
I think for me in my journey, it was everything. When I look at the kind of roles that I was able to book starting out, they were all action roles and I’ve had to use my martial arts on almost everything that I’ve worked on since I started. So, I think when it comes to my path, martial arts was the main factor and the thing I’m most grateful that I trained in ahead of time that really helped me now. But again, for any other aspiring actors reading this, that is just my journey and the parts that I got. That doesn’t mean you need to be a professional martial artist in order to land action roles. Because I know plenty of action actors that hadn’t needed it at all. But it seems like that was what my best shot was, and I know this can be a tough industry so I tried to lead with my strong foot forward. And I’m happy with the projects that I worked and who I’ve gotten to work with, so I think it was a good decision.
7. You dedicated yourself to this sport knowing that it would come in handy in your performing arts career. When and how did you think of this tactical idea?
I think it’s a combination of I’ve always had kind of a type A personality, but in addition to that I had the most supportive mother and father that I could have ever asked for. I just knew at a really young age, for whatever reason, I knew I wanted to be an actress. And maybe that was just the ideal dream that every childhood has, but my mom really took me seriously and she helped me figure out concrete steps that I could take to help me achieve that if I wanted to. And so, once I set my mind on something it’s pretty hard to shake me away from that path until I finish doing it. So, I think that’s what happened. I just decided when I was four that I wanted to be an actress and I still won’t stop until I feel like I’ve fulfilled my purpose on that path. But I have to thank my mom for that. She’s the one who found classes for me and who said you should probably do some dance, and some signing, and some acting lessons…
8. What was it like to transition from being a stunt woman in Zack Snyder’s movies to having a role in his movies?
I felt like I had a bad case of Imposter Syndrome because I still knew many of the crew as a stuntwoman, so I was probably very insecure for the first couple of weeks. In my own mind I would make up a story that everyone still sees me as a stuntwoman so they’re going to be scrutinising my acting because I’m not an actress, I’m a stuntwoman. When in reality no one was thinking that at all, and they were just happy for me and supporting me. So, I think it does go to show how much of our fears and insecurities we really do create on our own. And that if we trust that we put ourselves around the right people, we shouldn’t have to worry about things like that. So the transition and experience on set, after sabotaging myself and my happiness for the first week, I adored it. I felt so loved and supported.
9. You also transitioned from living in Canada to moving to LA to pursue your career. How has the change in environment been so far?
I do miss Canada. I love the reputation that Canada has globally, so I do feel very proud when people ask me where I’m from. But the transition was hard because I don’t have any family here and I’m very close with my family. So that was a hard thing to adjust to. But when it comes to our industry, I’m so grateful that I live here now. Because it is true, I think this is the land of opportunities. And if I weren’t here, I think I would have missed so many opportunities that I’ve gotten to take advantage of now. So when it comes to at least my industry, I’m really happy with the decision to move here. I’ve been here for about 10 years now, and so I’ve found my group of genuine friends. I think when it comes to anywhere in the world, as long as you can find your group of people that are likeminded and care about you as a human being, you can make anywhere feel like home.
10. You co-wrote and starred in the short film ‘Unwelcome’. What is the short film about and what was your experience co-writing it?
Well, the short film would be best described as a feminist thriller with a twist, where hikers are lured toward an unwelcome threat and are forced to face the consequences of their choices. The experience writing it was one of the most fun experiences of my life. Because it was my partner and one of my best girlfriends, and all three of us were sitting in a room going ‘What if this happens’ and ‘What if this happens’. And we came up with this super fun concept that, A, I think shed a light on a few important things socially and I think it had an important message to it. But B, would also be fun for people. And the reasoning behind that was that maybe if it was fun and part of a certain genre or culture, then maybe we would be reaching a new audience with this kind of message. I know I’m beating around the bush because I don’t want to spoil it. Our twist is very important to the success of it. But I think it was about reaching a new kind of audience and when the genre twist happens, I think eyes that might not have clicked on something to do with that subject matter otherwise, are suddenly face-to-face with the message. And I think it’s presented in a way where they might be able to accept it and really hear and understand it.
11. Do you plan on writing more films of your own in the future?
I do! I do feel like I’m just stepping into my own as an actress first. So at this time I will probably focus on working more as an actress first and trying to gain more experience. But that is also the best time to be, in a way, interning and learning as much as I can about the writing side of things and producing side of things. I just love filmmaking as a whole, and telling stories, and telling peoples stories. And so, any way avenue I can to do that, I want to learn and I want to experiment with it. But I also have that type A personality, so I want to learn more before I put myself out there.
12. What kind of films do you hope to write in the future?
I think the sky is the limit. Wherever I am at my life, I’m always gravitating towards different stories and different genres. So, this could very well change in a year. But I do know that at some point in my career I do want to be, in some capacity, involved in a project to do with human trafficking. I’ve read so much about it, so many autobiographies on it, it’s really a problem in the world that hits me very hard in my gut and my heart. So, I would love to be able to tell that story and shed a little bit more light on that problem in the world. That is one that I know for sure I want to do. When it comes to other things, I don’t know. We’ll see what catches my eye at the time.
13. All your roles in movies such as ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Wonder Woman’, ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ and ‘Army of the Dead’ depict strong women. What are your thoughts on the impact these characters can create in women and children around the world?
My hope is that when people, especially children, see these kinds of characters portrayed more frequently, they will know how possible it is to become that, to be that, and to feel that internally. I don’t want those characters, strong women, to be perceived as something new and exciting. I feel like it should just be how things are. And so my hope is that for kids, they wont see these films as being anything new or out of the ordinary. Because women can be just as strong and capable as the men, and so if it’s shown in a movie that makes sense. Art is a reflection of life, and life is a reflection of art. And so, I just hope that it all becomes normal eventually.
And then also, I as a human being have been affected by the characters I’ve played and I feel like I have gained a lot when it comes to my own sense of strength or self worth. So, I hope that kids watching it can absorb some of that energy and take it with them as they grow up too.
14. The world is coming to know you as a Martial Artist and Canadian Actress, but your IG bio shows us that you’re a lot more than that. Tell us more about these descriptions on your bio.
It’s so funny, that bio! I was just giggling so much as I wrote it because it feels ridiculous. The first few things, the ‘Amazonian’, ‘Kryptonian’ and ‘Edenian’, those of course stemmed from roles I was able to play, that I felt so grateful to be able to be a part of. In the DC world, as an Amazonian or Kryptonian, those are both such strong races. And to be able to portray a woman of Kryptonian or Amazonian blood, I felt was a true honour. So of course I want to lead with those. And Edenian from ‘Mortal Combat Legacy’, that was one of the first major roles that I had and Katana was such an iconic character that I hold that experience very true to my heart. So those top three are very genuine, nice ones. The rest are me being very silly and a total nerd. I probably stayed up too late and thought that rhyming was fun. I would have added a lot more if there wasn’t a limit on it.
15. Your social media posts show that you want your fans to see your “authentic self” by posting a ” Classy” picture alongside a “not-so-classy” picture with the #notthiscoolinreallife. What’s the story behind this?
Other than the fact that I just get such a kick out of it and I think it’s funny, I love seeing other people post real pictures so I want to be a part of it. But I feel like I’m becoming acutely aware of the amount of [followers], especially young girls and especially after ‘Wonder Woman’, looking at my material and looking at the things that I put out there. And I’m very aware of the effect that social media has on all of us, but especially on our youth with depression, comparing themselves, and unrealistic standards. I would like to transform the way that we use social media. Because I do think it can be a beautiful thing in a way of connecting people, a way for a regular person to have a platform to speak when they have something important to say. I want to be a part of that movement in transforming it and not encouraging these unrealistic standards; Making it okay and a positive thing to show yourself in maybe in not the best light, or what people may consider not the best light. So, I just want people to know who I really am. I might put on makeup or get dressed up for interviews, or I might look super cool on screen after sitting in the hair and makeup chair for two hours and have a designer customise wardrobe perfectly to my body. But at home and in my regular life when I don’t have those luxuries, I don’t look like that and that’s not the way I live my life. And that’s okay. I want them to know that that is okay. You can be you and have friends and be liked. You don’t need the makeup and the costumes.
16. What’s your reaction to this year’s Oscar winners?
I am overwhelmed and overjoyed for the amount of representation and diversity we saw in not just this years Oscar nominees, but the winners! As a woman and person of colour myself, I feel grateful that new precedents were set and we as an industry may now hold ourselves to a higher standard.
17. If you had to describe the movie industry in one word, what would that word be?
18. What more can we expect from you in the future?
You can certainly expect more silly pictures on my social media! You can also expect that I’ll always be striving to create a better, healthier image of women and people of colour, minorities, and anyone who has ever felt left out or like the black sheep. I work towards inclusivity and I want my work to reflect that. So that is what people can expect from me.
19. What message do you have for all your fans in Malaysia?
Hello, it’s so nice to see you again! It has been way too long since I’ve gotten to visit. But I hope that by reconnecting even through a zoom interview, you feel my love all the way from Los Angeles and Canada, and I hope to come see everyone again soon.
Malaysia hopes to see Samantha soon too! We are already excited for what she has in store for us next, whether it be another silly picture, a jaw dropping stunt on camera, or a moving film on human trafficking.
If you haven’t watched her thrilling zombie-heist-action movie yet, check out the trailer for “Army of the Dead” here:
For 20 fun facts about “Army of the Dead”, click here.