Sisterhood is massive part of ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’

Rick's Reviews

Jessica Sutton, Ashley Nicole Williams and Taylor Hickson star in “Motherland: Fort Salem.” (Photo courtesy of Disney)

(KGET) — Witches tend to show up in entertainment in threes, whether it be in William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” the feature film “Hocus Pocus” or the TV series “Charmed.” The latest magical  trio looking to put a spell on your viewing habits can be found in the Freeform series “Motherland: Fort Salem.”

Taylor Hickson, Jessica Sutton and Ashley Nicole Williams portray Raelle, Tally and Abigail, the three witches at the heart of this cable series that looks at a world where witches have been united into a massive military force. It is the bond the three young cadets have that helps them deal with each challenge.

There is no toiling or trouble with these three. The connection the actors immediately helped them handle all the demands of the action/fantasy series.

Williams says, “We are very, very lucky because we love each other like we were sisters. That sisterhood you see on the screen is very, very real. We do this thing before we have a really emotional scene where we hold each other’s hands in a circle.

“We ground each other because we know we love and care about each other genuinely. It was interesting because I have never bonded with two people like that so quickly.”

That bond was important because of the nature of the show. The first season had the young witches defending the nation as part of the United States Army from an evil force known as The Spree. The second season opens at 10 p.m. June 22 with the trio dealing with dangerous magic and a new threat from an ancient group of witch-hunters, the Camarilla.

Their training is intensified when they are promoted to attend War College, where their magic, relationships and beliefs will be pushed to the limits.

Williams was cast in the cable series while she was still a student at Baylor University. It was easy for her to balance the job and school because she loved the character so much.

“I definitely feel like in season one that I very much related to Abigail so it was really easy to slip into her shoes,” Williams says. “Season two, things get a little darker for all of our characters but I feel that during this time of the pandemic our mental health is not as good as it always is so art was imitating life in that sense.

“I felt a little like an outcast during the pandemic and I think Abigail feels like an outcast this season. So, it all worked out.”

One of the reasons Williams was able to connect with her character so quickly is that she could see a parallel between what she was going through in her own life with what Abigail was facing. Landing the role in “Motherland: Fort Salem” was the biggest opportunity in the young actor’s career just as her character was facing the biggest moment in her life.

Williams describes it as both living out their wildest dreams.

Sutton – who plays the kind, strong-willed and curious witch Tally Craven – agrees with Williams that the three actors have a strong bond of sisterhood that makes the series such a pleasure.

The moment Sutton read the description of her characters as being “a living exclamation mark” she knew this was the role for her. She considers herself to be that kind of person.

“Through season one I wanted to show her buoyancy, her enthusiasm and her love of life,” Sutton says. “She kind of radiates. She’s this shining being who wants to love and do good.

“Season two transitions that exclamation mark into a question mark.”

The constant through both seasons for Sutton has been working with her co-stars. She describes Williams and Hickson as both formidable and beautiful human beings.

She adds, “We have gotten very close while we have been shooting for two-and-a-half years. When I am looking at Tay, she is so different from her character. It is her enthusiasm and love for life that gets across such a great sense of comradery.

“For Ash, I think the energy that she brings is infectious. She is so passionate about what she does. I think that is why we all get along so well.

The Cape Town, South Africa, native has had plenty of opportunities to see how important a close cast can be to the project. Sutton is best known for her role as Mia in the Netflix feature film “The Kissing Booth,” alongside Joey King, Jacob Elordi and Joel Courtney.

Other film credits include “Escape Room,” starring Taylor Russell, and “Inside Man: Most Wanted.” On television, Sutton had a supporting role in the National Geographic miniseries “Saints and Strangers” as well as the series “ICE.”

The cast or “Motherland: Fort Salem” also includes Amalia Holm, Demetria McKinney and Lyne Renee.

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