Motherland: Fort Salem’s Ashley Nicole Williams on Abigail’s High Expectations

Freeform/Frank Ockenfels
Freeform/Frank Ockenfels

There are many expectations set on Abigail Bellweather (Ashley Nicole Williams), one of the young witches at the core of the Freeform series Motherland: Fort Salem. Abigail is smart, driven, and a natural leader, but she has to be flawless in order to live up to the high expectations set on her by her mother and everyone else. Thankfully, Abigail isn’t alone in basic training that’s teaching her how to use magic to fight terrorist threats brought against the country. Raelle (Taylor Hickson) and Tally (Jessica Sutton) help make up Abigail’s unit, and together they learn how witches can be used by the U.S. government to help fight for their country. 

Playing Abigail on Motherland: Fort Salem is the first leading role opportunity for Williams. She recently spoke with The TV Junkies about why she loves being a part of the show, created by Claws creator Eliot Laurence. Williams also previewed how Abigail’s relationship with Raelle and Tally will continue to get stronger, and what may be in store for her when a family wedding brings all of the Bellweather clan together.

 

The TV Junkies: Something I really love about Motherland is that it has so many women in its cast of characters, of all shapes, sizes, and races, Abigail included. What do you love most about being a part of this show?

Ashley Nicole Williams: When I first read the script, the women empowerment aspect just struck me! The fact that we’re able to show our audience, who is mostly women, that they have a voice, they can be heard, and you can be powerful, is something I wanted to be a part of. I think that’s what we’re doing and I love every aspect of it.

TTVJ: Whenever the credits roll and I see Eliot’s name I get a bit shocked thinking this show comes from a man, but I know only two of the 10 episodes were directed by a man. How does having all those women directors really affect the show?

ANW: That was all Eliot’s idea. He wanted to bring in female directors and I’m so thankful he did. To be portraying women’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions and having women there to help guide us to do that is amazing. We had a lot of women in the crew as well. Diversity in every aspect is so important and I was thankful to be a part of that, and that Eliot came up with that. He’s so hands on and is really trying to shift the narrative with us.

Freeform/David Bukach
Freeform/David Bukach

TTVJ: It seems in recent weeks that Abigail’s relationship with Tally and Raelle has improved. Can they continue to move past their differences in order to be there for one another?

ANW: Yes! Abigail’s biggest thing at the beginning is that she’s a Bellweather and knew she couldn’t fail. She had to get to War College and isn’t going to let anyone get in her way or stop her. She is a leader, but one of the things she has to learn is that in order to be a leader, you can’t just think about yourself. You have to think about the team and rely on the team at times. There is no “I” in team, right?

They’ll learn that they do care about each other and will put their differences aside to help one another. It’s not necessarily just as a unit. Raelle and Abigail made a deal at the beginning about moving effectively as a unit. It’s not just that. They grow and care about each other and want to see each other win. You’ll see those things unfold in future episodes.

TTVJ: Abigail got shoved into that relationship with Raelle and Tally, but you kind of had the same thing happen in working with Taylor and Jessica. What’s your relationship with them like off screen?

ANW: We are literally the tightest unit! They are like my sisters and it’s so cliche to say we’re all best friends, but we really are. We’re very fortunate to have that relationship because I know a lot of co stars don’t. When we met each other we immediately clicked. I can call them and talk to them about anything, and we do! We keep in touch, not just when we’re filming, and even with Jessica in South Africa, we WhatsApp and Facetime all the time. Those are my girls. They are my witches! [laughs]

TTVJ: Abigail’s mother arrived at base during Beltane and she wasn’t overly happy to see her. What’s Abigail’s relationship like with her mother?

ANW: Her mom is a constant source of pressure. She has to hold the Bellweather name high and keep its rank standing. If Abigail fails then the whole Bellweather name is tarnished. Her mom never lets her forget that. She’s constantly trying to make her mom proud, but everything she does isn’t good enough. Abigail is constantly walking on eggshells with her.

Freeform/David Bukach
Freeform/David Bukach

TTVJ: What does that mean then for Abigail at the Bellweather wedding?

ANW: You’ll actually see that they do come together and her mom really does care about her. At the beginning, it seems like a rocky road, but they come together in the end. I don’t want to give anything else away.

TTVJ: Lastly, Beltane was a really impressive event to watch, especially the dance sequence. I’m very curious what that was like for you to shoot?

ANW: That was so much fun! We trained on the weekends with choreographer Paul Becker who did the Descendants. It was so much fun to shoot and everyone had a blast. I’ve never done a dance number like that before. Learning it at first I thought, ‘Oh this is not my forte!’ During shooting we had such high spirits, and the colors portrayed in the episode made us feel colorful, cool, and eccentric. It was so great and really awesome to shoot.

 

What are your thoughts on Motherland: Fort Salem? Sound off below!

Motherland: Fort Salem airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Freeform and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Spark.

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