Motherland: Fort Salem is Ashley Nicole Williams’ most prominent role to date, and she’s already won Freeform viewers over with her portrayal of Abigail Bellweather. But what impact has the character had on her?
With just a few episodes left in the first season, Ashley spoke with Nerdophiles about why she originally wanted to play the part and what she’s gained from working on Motherland: Fort Salem. Learn more about her and Abigail in our interview!
Nerdophiles: How did you originally connect to Motherland: Fort Salem and the character of Abigail Bellweather?
Ashley Nicole Williams: When I first read the script, I was just completely in awe. I loved it so much. I literally ran to my mom and was like Mom, I have to be a part of this. You have to read it. It’s so amazing. And that’s a lot coming from me.
I really loved the [female] empowerment. That is a big theme in our show, and it just really stuck out to me. The fact that a man [series creator Eliot Laurence] wrote so many [female] leads, and it’s all women-run, [was] incredible and I really wanted to be a part of that. I’m also very similar to Abigail, which initially drew me to that character as well. I was like oh, wow. I have so many things in common with this character. I just felt that I could bring pieces of myself to the character.
NP: This is the first time you’ve been a TV series regular, so how has this experience differed from the work you’ve done in the past?
ANW: This is my first really big thing, and the first time being on a TV show and a series. I think once you get in the groove of things, it’s very easy to slip into that character. I know in the beginning of shooting, it was more like oh, we need to talk with our acting coaches. Then towards the end, we didn’t really have that much time. It was just like okay, you get the script and we’re shooting the next day. We kind of had to coach ourselves.
I think once you’re in that rhythm and in that groove, it’s really easy to slip into the character and play that person that you’re portraying because you are the character. You know their thoughts, you know what they want and what they don’t want, and things like that.
NP: The premise of Motherland: Fort Salem requires that we have to believe these characters are a strong unit. How were you and your co-stars able to build your rapport?
ANW: Jess [Sutton], Taylor [Hickson] and I were very fortunate that we clicked right off the bat. We’re really best friends. I know it sounds like a cliche thing to say, but we are. We genuinely care about each other and we want to see each other strive and do well. And relating it to the show, I think even in the first couple episodes, Abigail and Raelle have very different views and kind of go tit for tat, but deep down you’ll see that they do care about each other and love one another.
It was really nice to have that sense of love in real life with Jess and Tay because I’ve heard some stories from other friends in the industry where they don’t have that type of chemistry with their co-stars, or they’re not as close, or they don’t like each other at all. I think I was very blessed to have castmates that I bonded with so effortlessly.
NP: The show is unique in that it combines military drama with fantasy drama. How fun was it just to go to work every day and be a witch in an elite military unit?
ANW: it’s freaking awesome. We got to do our own stunts, so that was interesting. I’ve been an athlete and played sports, but [stunt work] was definitely not on the resume. But it was super-cool. I got to fly. I got to do my own fight scenes. One of the weapons we use in the show resembles ancient Rope Dart, so I got to learn how to fight using an actual rope dart, which was insane. It was so cool just being able to actually bring the characters to life. They’re in the army, they’re kicking ass and taking names, and we actually got to do that too. I thought it was awesome.
NP: Is there any one thing you want Motherland: Fort Salem viewers to know about Abigail Bellweather?
ANW: The one thing about Abigail is at the beginning, you really see her tough persona, and she comes across as a really big queen bee. But I just want viewers to know to hang in there with her and she’ll surprise you.
Motherland: Fort Salem airs Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform.