‘Scream Queens’ Star Skyler Samuels Has a Degree From Stanford and an App Every Fashion Girl Will Love

Photo: Collin Stark
Photo: Collin Stark

“I’m a little unusual in that I’ve always done a lot of things,” Skyler Samuels says, while reflecting on her whirlwind past year – which included a breakout role on Ryan Murphy’s hit Fox drama Scream Queens. The show takes place on a college campus, making Samuels’s off-screen experience all the more coincidental. When she wasn’t filming, the Los Angeles native was busy completing a bachelor of arts degree in media and communications at Stanford University, from which she graduated just weeks ago.

“I took a semester off to film Scream Queens, which was a great decision because it was an incredibly wild experience that did a lot for me as far as my career,” she says. The opportunity proved to be a case of art imitating life — minus the murderous plot points — since, at the time of being cast, Samuels herself was a sorority girl. “My sorority was filled with amazing, different, accomplished women across all fields,” she gushes about her sisters. “We had athletes, entrepreneurs. We had women who were killing it in the nonprofit world. We had everybody, so the fact that I was on a TV show about crazy sorority girls was just another flavor in our mix.”

While Samuels isn’t currently slated to return next season, the actress hasn’t ruled out the possibility of collaborating with Ryan Murphy in the future. “I mean, I hope so,” says Samuels, who first met the writer-producer when they collaborated on American Horror Story: Freak Show. “I don’t know what the future holds. I know he’s plowing ahead with Scream Queens Season 2 and that will be crazy and weird and awesome as Scream Queens is known to be — as are his other shows. Needless to say, Ryan is always working on something, so if I can be so lucky to work with him again, then I definitely will.”

In the interim, the actress is hard at work on Ask Tipster, a fashion and beauty app she recently launched that pairs users with stylists and makeup artists. Samuels conceptualized and developed the idea from the ground up — a fact underscored by the fervor with which she speaks about it. “It’s been an ongoing passion project for the last couple years,” she says. “A huge part of my life as an actor has revolved around fashion and beauty — just by default. It’s such a big part of the business.” Friends would often ask her for advice on how to re-create looks she’d worn on the red carpet. “I thought to myself, There’s an opportunity here to connect people with experts. We live in this DIY age of YouTube tutorials and trying things out that we see online. … What if we can just ask someone in real time and have a conversation with people who can help us achieve the look that we love?”


Samuels first explored the idea by reaching out to her personal network of friends, family, and connections in the business. After which a number of them expressed an interest in better connecting with their social media followers. “Instagram has become an incredible platform for fashion and beauty influencers to showcase their talent and what they love,” she explains, “but there’s really no way to directly connect. The more followers you have, the more comments you’re going to get, the harder it is to answer questions and have intimate conversations with people.” And so, with the help of co-founder Andrew Duplessie, Ask Tipster was born. “With Tipster, you really get this one-on-one time with the expert of your choice about whatever it is you want to talk about.”

While Samuels works with L.A. stylist Monty Jackson for red carpet appearances, she does actively uses the app herself. “As a matter of fact, I was on there yesterday getting advice,” she says. “I’m going to an event tomorrow night and I have this really cool, high-neck halter dress and I’m trying to decide if I should wear my hair up or down, so I asked Tipster and I got great feedback.”

Samuels’s off-duty style consists of jeans, a vintage tee, and leather slip-on Vans. “I pretty much wear that year round — regardless of where I am or what the weather is,” she admits, adding that she’s been having fun experimenting for Hollywood events. “It’s really fun to get outside your comfort zone and do something that maybe is an unexpected choice for you,” she says. “It can be really liberating and empowering to try something new and rock the look and feel like you pulled it off … I’ve become addicted to, ‘Well, what’s next? What else can I try?’” Luckily, she can always count on Jackson to reel her back in. “He will be totally honest if I look insane,” she says, noting that she “hopes that Tipster provides the same outlet for people.”

The savvy 22-year-old’s Hollywood life is in stark contrast to the past several years she spent studying in school. The multitasker admits she isn’t quite sure how she managed to graduate with her class despite taking a semester off to shoot the show. “I don’t know how I pulled that off, I’m going to be honest,” she laughs. “There were a lot of miracles and iced coffees that went into the making of that maneuver. I was lucky that I had taken enough classes at Stanford and was good enough to go that I was able to come back in January of this year and fall back in step with my classmates and graduate in June — just like I was never gone.” Completing her degree was important to her. “I’ve been looking forward to that moment for most of my life. That was the closing, the moment of ‘You’re an adult now! No more homework!’”

Joking aside, she genuinely relishes her collegiate experience. “Stanford is a huge part of my life,” she says. “My degree was focused on innovative problem solving. I feel like creating Tipster is paying homage to this part of my life — going to Stanford, being in such a tech-savvy, amazing university fueled my interests in the tech world.” However, there was one part of the course curriculum that gave her grief. “Ironically, the one class that made cry more than anything was my computer science class. It was so hard. Every day, I was in tears. I was like, ‘I’m never going to make it.’ And I did — it was fine,” she says. “I mean, I was crying with my classmates. It’s sort of your Stanford right of passage. Blood, sweat, and tears go into it. It’s part of your journey there.” That’s why she works with coders to bring her app to life. “Everything takes a team,” she says. “No movie is made, no red carpet is assembled in a vacuum.” Success comes down to an attention to detail. “Good ideas are a dime a dozen, but execution is everything.”

Beyond her app, Samuels will next appear in Sharon 1.2.3. a film co-starring her “girl crush” Gina Rodriguez about a guy dating three girls named Sharon. “We filmed that three years ago. We wrapped the movie, and then I watched Gina’s career take off with Jane the Virgin,” she says. “I’m so happy for her. I haven’t seen her since then. I would love to run into her and give her a hug and congratulate her on everything.” Samuels is also about to begin filming a yet-to-be-announced project. “I am working on a new film — a really fun one, a comedy. I don’t think I can say much more about it yet, but keep your eyes peeled. You’ll be hearing about it soon. It’ll be the summer-camp equivalent of making a movie.”

So with a degree in hand, IMDb credits aplenty, and an app, the question is: What’s the end goal? “Film and TV will always be at the heart of my passions,” she shares. “I hope to continue on directing and producing and acting for all my life. I love the business, but, also, in all honesty, there’s a big part of me that’s a realist, and it’s not always the most forgiving business. Especially as a woman.”

That’s why she feels that it’s great to have something else outside of the entertainment industry, “something that’s entrepreneurial, something that’s a little bit more steady and structured and allows me to have — not a backup but some other options, just in case because you really never know in this business.” She pauses. “I have too curious a mind for just one job. I think that’s just who I am.”

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