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‘The Purge’ Star Hannah Emily Anderson Talks What’s Next for Jenna, On-Screen Chemistry, and More

THE PURGE -- "What Is America?" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Hannah Anderson as Jenna -- (Photo by: Patti Perret/USA Network)

USA Network’s The Purge is a horrifying night for many, but this is especially the case for Jenna Betancourt, portrayed by Hannah Emily Anderson. Against everything this annual night of terror represents, Jenna and her husband Rick (Colin Woodell) end up at a pro-Purge party in an attempt to fund their real estate development company. To make matters worse the pair’s former flame, Lila (Lili Simmons) is also in attendance. TV Source Magazine had the opportunity to talk with Hannah Emily Anderson about landing the role of Jenna, what’s to come for her character as the series progresses, and more.

Tell us about your audition process for The Purge.
I was in LA like a million other actors for pilot season and The Purge was one of my first auditions. I had a callback the next day, found out a few days later that they wanted me to test, but didn’t end up testing until a month and a half later. It was quite the waiting game.

In your own words, how would you describe the character of Jenna?
Jenna is a good soul. Her intentions are pure but she’s fallible just like everyone else. She is brave and strong. I like to think she’s the boss of the family.

What drew you to this role in particular?
This role felt much closer to me than the last couple I had played (a psychopathic killer in What Keeps You Alive and femme fatale-ish coroner in Jigsaw) which is a challenge in itself, it’s very vulnerable. I was also very intrigued by the concept. I got shivers reading the pilot. That’s always a good sign.

THE PURGE — “What Is America?” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Colin Woodell as Rick, Hannah Anderson as Jenna — (Photo by: Patti Perret/USA Network)

The complicated dynamic between Jenna, Rick, and Lila is one of my favorite aspects of The Purge. It is also the franchise’s first love triangle. How did you, Colin Woodell, and Lili Simmons go about creating the chemistry between these three characters?
Us too! Colin, Lili, and I hit it off right away. We went on our first “date” before going to camera the next day and instantly liked each other. We made each other laugh all the time. We lived in the same building and spent most of our time together. We really became a family (Hi Colin, Hi Lili, miss you)!

Can you tease anything about what’s to come for Jenna as the series progresses?
Jenna is a fish forced out of water for pretty much the entire season. She’s never safe, let’s just put it that way.

I read that you recently wrote, produced, and directed your first short film. Do you have plans to do more behind the scenes?
Yes! I made a short film in memory of a close friend I lost. I co-directed another short called Five Things with Abigail Winter and I’m in post-production right now for the latest short that I wrote, produced, and starred in called I’d Rather Be in Bed. I would love to find a book to option and eventually produce my own film and/or series to star in. I want to be part of the creative process from beginning to end.

Anything else you would like to say to your fans?
I’ve gotten so many kind and encouraging messages on social media from fans. I’m not always great at responding but I’d like to say THANK YOU!

You can watch Hannah Emily Anderson in The Purge every Tuesday at 10/9c on USA Network.

About the author

Spencer Barrett

Stars are his kind of thing! Spencer Barrett joined the TV Source team as a staff writer in 2013. In 2018, he was promoted to Senior Writer, TV & Pop Culture, shaping our pop culture content. He loves all things horror, Archie Comics and Taylor Swift.