Ashley Nicole Williams Talks Abigail’s Layers In Motherland: Fort Salem: INTERVIEW

ashley nicole williams in fort salem

Matriarchy and magic combine in Motherland: Fort Salem, an exciting new Freeform series about an alternate reality where the Salem Witch Trials actually led to an American Army of Witches. The show premiered on March 18th, and With An Accent has been watching with delight as Abigail (Ashley Nicole Williams), Raelle (Taylor Hickson) and Tally (Jessica Sutton) test the limits of their Basic training and strengthen their currently tenuous bond.

Abigail Bellweather in particular has a lot on her plate when she’s drafted into the military, as her family is made up of a long legacy of powerful witches who have served their country honorably. Actress Ashley Nicole Williams chatted with us about how she landed the role and what she expects from Abigail’s arc throughout the first season.

RELATED: REVIEW OF MOTHERLAND FORT SALEM 1.04

Congratulations on your first lead role. How did you end up starring in this series?

Ashley Nicole Williams: You know, I went through the auditioning process; mine was a little different than everyone else’s. I know Motherland started about two years ago in the auditioning process, so I originally tested for the role and it was down to me and another girl. And she got it, actually. She filmed the pilot, and then they ended up recasting and coming back to me. That’s how I got it, like, a year ago. Came around full circle, which was great.

What first drew you to the role of Abigail and the story of Motherland: Fort Salem?

Ashley Nicole Williams: The women empowerment was so big to me. It stood out when I initially read the script, and I loved the script. I even told my mom to read it, which is really strange because I don’t normally like scripts that I read. So, me telling my mom meant that I really cared about it.

But having a man write this show, and having all women leads – I just think that it’s so important to show this narrative, especially during this time. We as women have a voice, and we can be heard, and we are powerful – and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. I think that really drew me to the show and wanting to be a part of that; having a part in telling women that we’re kick ass and no one can take that from us.

ashley nicole williams and jessica sutton

Abigail starts off very closed off from her unit and focused on results. Can you discuss the evolution of the trio’s friendship over the course of the season?

Ashley Nicole Williams: Yeah, Abigail definitely comes in [and] she has to uphold the Bellwether name, and she can’t fail. That’s why she kind of butts heads with Raelle, because if raelle takes her down then she takes the Bellwether name down. So, at the beginning, it’s very “it’s all about me” from Abigail’s point of view, but she has to learn that there is no I in team and you do have to work together. And I think that’s what makes a strong leader, which is something she wants to become.

But throughout the season, you’ll definitely see each character growing to love one another and actually genuinely caring about each other. Not just caring to get through basic, to help the unit, rah rah rah – but actually genuinely loving and caring for one another, which is really beautiful. I’m thinking of scenes in my head while I’m saying this, but I can’t say that.

Speaking of the Bellweather name, a lot of Abigail’s pressures and insecurities come from her family legacy and her mother’s expectations. How do you think Abigail views her relationship with her mother and her responsibility in upholding that legacy?

Ashley Nicole Williams: Abigail’s relationship with her mom is really strained, I’d say. Her mom puts so much pressure on her to be the best and not fail the Bellweather name, which I think makes Abigail put on this tough persona. And that’s why she comes across so [much like the] Queen Bee, I’d say.

But the pressure from her mom makes her put pressure on herself, and I think deep down she’s very insecure. She doesn’t want to fail the Bellweather name, but she also doesn’t want to fail herself. And if she fails herself, then there’s there’s nothing else for her. But with her mom… You’ll see them come together in episode five, at the Bellwether wedding. But it’s still that sense of pressure.

Her mom does love her, but it’s more of like, “You need to get to this highest point, and then maybe I’ll be proud of you.” Abigail tries so hard and does her best, and it still isn’t good enough for her mom. So, you see those things unfold, and you might see Abigail challenge her mom and you might not. You never know.

ashley nicole williams and taylor hickson

An early source of tension between Abigail and Raelle is that the latter blames Abigail’s mother for her own mother’s death. Do we find out more about that backstory in the first season? Do you know what Abigail knows?

Ashley Nicole Williams: I know a lot. As Ashley, I know a lot. I don’t think Abigail knows what Ashley knows at this point? Okay, I’m gonna stop talking about myself in third person.

You learn about what’s going on with Willa Collar and Petra Bellweather throughout the season, I’d say. I really can’t give much away about that. That’s all I can say, because I’m really gonna say something… I’m really on the line right now. It’s really bad.

What aspect of Abigail’s story are you most excited for audiences to see in the upcoming episodes?

Ashley Nicole Williams: I love that you asked this question. I think that in the beginning of this season, you definitely see Abigail’s tough persona, her being an alpha and Queen Bee, “No one can get in my way, and I’m gonna knock everyone down who is.” But you definitely see her open up after the Bellweather episode. she’s more vulnerable, and there’s more depth to her, and she breaks down the brick walls.

I’m really excited for people to see the layers in Abigail, and she’s not just this tough cookie. I think that’s kind of a topic that we’ve addressed, like toxic masculinity but in the role reversal version, I guess. So, it’s really beautiful to see, and I just people connect with her.

Find out what’s next for Abigail and her new friends on Motherland: Fort Salemwhich airs on Freeform on Wednesdays at 9 pm ET.