EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jessica Sutton from “Motherland: Fort Salem” Talks Witches & Belonging

Being a young woman in 2020 is hard enough, throw in being a witch and you’ve got a recipe for dynamic and fascinating storytelling that leaves viewers wanting for more. That’s what Freeform’s Motherland: Fort Salem is all about, young witches that are changing the future, one step or spell at a time.

We got to speak with Jessica Sutton, who plays Tally Craven, one of the three main witches that this Freeform show centers on, her character, growing as a witch and a woman, and the themes this new series tackles episode after episode.

Straight off the bat, Sutton wanted us to know that Tally just wants to do good. And in a world where faith in your witch kind is key to you surviving witch academy, this sets Tally up on a signature journey in comparison to her counterparts Raelle and Abigail.

“She is so earnest and kind of represents the truest believer and everything Fort Salem stands for,” Sutton explained about Tally. Because at the end of the day it’s all about witch unity, a line repeated throughout the show. She continued by explaining that Sutton is also all about, “cohesion and operates very much as the peacemaker.”

MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM – “Say the Words” – Three witches join basic training at Fort Salem where they’ll prepare for the front lines, fighting looming terrorist threats with supernatural tactics and weapons. “Motherland: Fort Salem” series premiere airs on Wednesday, March 18, at 9:00p.m. ET/PT on Freeform. (Freeform/David Bukach) ASHLEY NICOLE WILLIAMS, JESSICA SUTTON

This is key to understanding who Tally is and where she is going at Fort Salem. She wants people to get along, to come together, and to see the power that lies in them while lifting each other up, making her an indispensable asset in our book and a uniting factor for those around her. 

Another key component to getting to know Tally is that she comes from a female dominated community where men are not allowed at all. That gives her life experiences that are different from the girls at Fort Salem and just makes Tally want to fit in more desperately with the other witches in her unit. 

“I would say that she doesn’t realize, like maybe unconsciously, she operates also from a lacking [because of where she grew up.] She wants to belong. And ultimately I would like to think that by the end of it, she realizes that true belonging is within you. You belonging to yourself and you owning everything that you are.”

On the Sutton front, this role, this show, and this community of amazing women that she ended up working with day in and day out, felt like a dream come true.

MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM – Freeform’s “Motherland: Fort Salem” stars Ashley Nicole Williams as Abigail Bellweather, Jessica Sutton as Tally Craven, Amalia Holm as Scylla, Taylor Hickson as Raelle Collar, and Demetria McKinney as Anacostia. (Freeform/Frank Ockenfels)

“I’m a South African, coming from South Africa, just to have an audition for a show like this. It was a dream come true. So I’m not just speaking as a South African or an actor but also a woman and having such a beautiful and complex role in such a surprising world that is really reimagining the symbol of the witch. Outside of the Halloween crone or one who fornicates with the Devil, something more aligned with this ancient, positive, self empowerment. And that’s amazing.”

That’s what sets Motherland: Fort Salem apart from other shows on screen right now, it’s all about empowering the viewer, “across age, across gender, and across sexual orientation” according to Sutton. And in a dog eat dog kind of world, maybe this is exactly what we need in 2020.

A show where the themes of “sex and power” are explored. Where there is no time for shame but time for, in Sutton’s own words, “the individual voice when it comes to their power.” And a show where “cultivating the woman that you’re growing into and growing into the witch that you ultimately become” is of great and paramount importance.

That’s why we’ll be watching Motherland: Fort Salem when it premieres.

And that’s why you should be watching too.

Motherland: Fort Salem premieres Wednesday, March 18th at 9/8c.

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