True Blood actor Adina Porter is back on American Horror Story for the third time, after playing suicidal patient Sally Freeman in Season 1's Murder House and scrappy survivor Lee Miller in Season 6's Roanoke. But is AHS: Cult's Beverly Hope based on a real person? Or is Porter playing another demented figment of Ryan Murphy's imagination? It can sometimes be difficult to tell the answer to that question on a show that cribs so frequently (and loosely) from real-life historical figures and urban legends; not to mention the fact that so little is known about Beverly at this point, other than the fact that she's reporting on the Clown Cult murders for her local news station.
But Murphy wouldn't have cast someone as recognizable to AHS fans as Porter if she was just going to continue popping up to play a talking head a couple of times per episode. Clearly, viewers are going to find out more about Beverly at some point. So if you find yourself suspicious of the seemingly normal reporter, well… you have good reason. There's definitely more to Beverly than meets the eye, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she's based on a real person — or at least, not a real newscaster.
There's no evidence that there's even been a reporter named Beverly Hope; but there was an actor named Beverly Hope Atkinson, an African American performer whose career spanned the 1970s and '80s, guest starring on popular TV shows of the time including Dark Shadows, Sanford And Son, and Hill Street Blues. Could the name of Porter's Cult character really be a coincidence? Or is it a direct homage to Atkinson? If the latter, then what does the reference signify? Perhaps the fact that the real-life Atkinson was an actor is a clue that Beverly's job as an unassuming newscaster is just a role that she's playing to disguise her true self.
Porter seemed to confirm as much in a recent interview with Zimbio. "I don't think Beverly Hope is gonna win any Nobel Peace Prizes," the actor teased to the site. "But she's making choices day-by-day and hour-by-hour, and she's got a reason for them all. Nobody's completely good on American Horror Story." Of course, fans shouldn't have to be reminded of that seven seasons into the anthology series… but just how "not completely good" is Beverly, exactly? Are we talking about an ambitious career woman with no scruples in her pursuit of a juicy story? Or are we talking a full-blown cult member who butchers people in their homes when she's not on the evening news?
"These are political times and so many things are happening right now, but [Cult] is not about Trump and Hillary," Porter told Zimbio. "It's about the head games. I might not run into a savage pig man in the woods, but I'm someone that'll constantly try to get you by figuring out what your vulnerabilities are. In Cult, people play a sword fight with the ammunition of people's vulnerabilities." That certainly sounds like Beverly could be a member of Kai Anderson's nefarious, phobia-exploiting cult. The way the clowns have been mining Ally's fears of clowns and holes sounds an awful lot like the way Porter described her own character as trying to "get people" by "figuring our what their vulnerabilities are."
If Beverly does turn out to be a member of the titular cult, that begs the question: is pretty much everyone other than Ally in on the murderous shenanigans? Or does the paranoid wife and mother just think everyone's in on it, and it will all turn out to be have been in her head all along? Porter won't answer, but she will admit that she had a blast playing the enigmatic newscaster. "I'm having the most fun with Beverly Hope as I've had with any character in my life," she told Zimbio. "She goes through some twists and turns, but it's more of the head games," rather than the physical torment that Lee Miller went through in Roanoke.
But if Beverly really is a cult member, she could be putting other characters through some nasty physical torment before long. That would be the ultimate revenge for her character's brutal treatment in Season 6.