EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Ashley Nicole Williams from 'Motherland: Fort Salem' Talks Being a Bellweather

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Ashley Nicole Williams from ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ Talks Being a Bellweather

Being a witch in the 21st century is hard. Between going to war college and pressure from home to be the best you can be, things pile up and lead you down dangerous, fascinating, and new roads. That’s true for Abigail Bellweather played by Ashley Nicole Williams. She’s a high born witch of color who is just trying to make her mom proud while showing others she’s the baddest witch around. 

We got a chance to speak with Ashley Nicole Williams about being a 21st century witch on Motherland: Fort Salem. We broke down Abigail’s motivations, how much representation matters to Williams, and what’s next for the talented and badass witch of the Bellweather family. Check out our interview below and let us know in the comments what you think about this Bellweather!

Abigail’s mom has been a constant source of pressure, is that why Abigail went so hard on Beltane and why she wants to get into war college so badly?

Abigail wanting to succeed and to get to war college definitely comes from the pressure that her mom puts on her. She can not fail as a Bellweather. At all. And if she does fail, she’d be the first Bellweather to fail. So not only does it come from her mom, putting pressure on her, but I think she puts pressure on herself because she doesn’t want to be that one person that takes the whole Bellweather name down. And that’s also why she puts on this tough girl persona, because she’s like, “Nobody is going to get in my way.” But she has to realize that she needs to work with the other two girls, Tally and Raelle, in order to get where she wants to go.

What does it mean to you to play such a strong, badass, and resilient young woman of color on Motherland: Fort Salem?

I love playing Abigail. I think we want to do for our show is empower women and playing a powerful woman of color is just even more rewarding, I feel. Because you don’t always see yourself portrayed on screen and I think for young girls or just girls in my age in general to have someone like Abigail, someone they can relate to and see themselves on screen. It’s just amazing. 

I wish I saw someone, a black girl at my age as a lead. I think I want to empower women that they have a voice and that they can be heard. And I think it’s kind of my job now, being a woman of color, to help other women of color know that they can do that as well. I think I was able to open doors for so many other girls now just like Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer have done for me, I feel like. 

This past episode saw the unit united in a way we haven’t seen before. Was it all Beltane or are Raelle and Tally finally starting to get underneath Abigail’s skin, in a good way?

I definitely think Beltane helped a lot with the unit kind of being together and Abigail relaxing a little bit. The men being there, it helped Abigail become a better soldier. That’s kind of why we bring the men in because they relieve tension and enhance our powers and our magic. And it’s definitely Abigail’s element when the boys arrive. She definitely knows Male Witch 101. I think its a mixture of Beltane and kind of Abigail is loosening up a little bit but it definitely has to do with the men.

Talking about someone who gets under Abigail’s skin, Libba Swythe always seems to bring out the worst in Abigail. What’s up with that?

So, Libba and Abigail grew up together. They grew up in the same neighborhood and they’re both High Atlantic, along with Gerit Buttonwood. Their long rooted hatred of each other comes from something that happened years and years back between the first Bellweather and the first Swythe. And it’s because the Swythe’s took credit for an infantry charge which won the whole war. 

We’ve hated the Swythe’s forever and I guess its just one of those things that is family taught. I guess we see that a lot in our world now, like if there’s something that your family hasn’t liked, then its probably something learned. Or if there’s something you don’t like its probably because your family has taught you that. 

Abigail is not going to back down from Libba. At all. Ever. Because her family before her didn’t back down from the Swythe’s. The things they throw at each other, I find their lines hilarious if I’m being honest. And you’re going to learn more about Libba and Abigail in particular and their relationship. But at first it’s just a little bit of family history there.

What can fans expect from Abigail the rest of this season, especially at the wedding of Abigail’s cousin?

After the wedding you’ll definitely see a different side of Abigail. She’s more vulnerable, I would say. And there are a lot of colors that you wouldn’t typically see in her that she’s projecting. But there’s still a sign and sense of…we come to call it toxic masculinity, that’s one of the things we’re touching on in our world, so you still kind of see that with Abigail. She’s trying to cover everything up. There’s one point where she’s going to crack and I can’t say much else without giving things away.

But you’ll definitely see Abigail more vulnerable and there are certain people that are going to bring those new colors out of her and I feel like it’s really beautiful to see.

Motherland: Fort Salem airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Freeform.

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