FreeForm’s upcoming drama series Motherland: Fort Salem is days away from making their premiere. Motherland is highly anticipated and the premise of the series involves a good blend of women who are training in the military while they are using magic. It is also set in the future and I recently got the chance to interview one of the stars of the series and she is Ashley Nicole Williams. We talk about her upbringing, how she got the chance to be on Motherland, her favorite memories in Vancoover from where the show was shot, and much more in this exclusive interview.
What was it like for you when you grew up in Dallas, TX?
Ashley: “Dallas is definitely home. Even though I consider myself an L.A. girl now, I absolutely love Texas. So I was born and raised in Dallas. It’s not country, but it’s also like you have that Southern hospitality a little bit.”
You have been acting since you were younger and you also have brothers and a sister. How did they feel once you started to pursue a career in acting?
Ashley: “I have two older brothers and one older sister and I’ve been acting since I was 5. It’s been a long time coming for a really, really big role. But they were all just over the limit for me because, they know how hard I worked. And they’d been there throughout the journey and throughout the rejections. It was just exciting for everyone, the whole family. And of course, my parents, because they’ve been part of my journey in my whole life.”
How has your life been within the last few years while you are going back and forth between acting and modeling?
Ashley: “I modeled I’d say a little bit. But I’m also in college. I go to Baylor, I modeled before I went to Baylor and then a little bit throughout my freshman year. But it kind of got hard to do both school and modeling. So then I did school at Baylor up until my first semester of sophomore year. And then I moved to L.A and I then continued online classes. So I am going to be graduating in May on time, which is amazing. But I moved out to L.A. I lived here for a while and then we filmed in Vancouver and then I went right back to school. It was like my last week of filming overlapped with my first week of school. So I was thrown right back into it. But I’m getting the degree and getting it done and that’s really cool that I can do both.”
You are playing as Abigail on Motherland. Tell me more of who Abagial is and what can we expect from Abigail
Ashley: “Abigail is a very alpha-female driven queen bee intelligent. She comes from a very high power in the military families and she also comes from a long lineage of lieutenants and generals and she has a lot to prove and has a lot to live up to. Abigail is thinking “Hey, I’m the best. I trained my whole life in this way” and she needs to realize that she has to work with other people that she thinks is in her way to get to where she ultimately needs to be. Literally, when I read the script and the pilot they sent me over, I ran to my mom and told her that ‘I have to be part of this because this is so fraking cool’. I had an instant shock to it and I cannot wait for everyone to see what Abigail will do on Motherland.”
Since Demetria is playing as a Anacostia, who is the sergent, will we see both of your characters in a power struggle since she is a high ranking member of that military?
Ashley: “Abigail definitely challenges Anacostia. I think they just dropped something else right now on the Motherland page. I saw it on Facebook, but it literally shows a sneak peek of one of our little towers. It’s about Anacostia. And you can see me charging at her with the the spear. Yeah, it’s definitely Abigail. She’s like, I am about whether I came for this. I know what I’m doing. Abigail is like ‘I know what I’m doing and why are you trying to tell me what to do?’ There definitely will be a power struggle during this season.”
Can you run down some of the stunt work you and the cast have done while you were all acting our your scenes?
Ashley: “We definitely had a stunt coordinator who we trained with, and so prior to filming the pilot, we trained for three weeks. As you see in some of the trailers with whips in our hands, that becomes our first weapon, which is called the surge. So definitely we had to train and learn how to use that. It’s freaking awesome and it was also hard because sometimes you hit yourself in the face and that’s not fun. But we definitely train and we have a lot of fight scenes during the week and on the weekends, we have a little break. We also learned the choreography, fight scenes and stuff later. So we did some training. And I hope it shows because that that was some fun!”
While you were in Vancouver, did you had time to explore the area when you were not on set?
Ashley: “Yes. So I went to Squamish, which is almost an hour away from Vancouver. Basically, it’s just like all these beautiful mountains and they have a gondola there too. You see all the water, the snow, and the beautiful landscapes and stuff like that. It blew me away and I am a sucker for beautiful views.”
What are some challengers and obstacles will we see Abigail go through during the season?
Ashley: “She has her inner struggles as well as her outter struggles with her mom. And her mom, of course, puts that pressure on her in a sense. She keeps letting Abigail know that she cannot fail this family. If she failed the family, she’ll be the first to know that she will feel like a failure about how has to live up to her name. And I think also, that put a lot of pressure on Abigail herself, because if she fails, she also fails in herself. And I think that is kind of a perfectionist way of how she thinks. She put so much pressure on herself to be the best and I don’t think she necessarily believes that she is the best because she has a lot of experience, which is kind of where that persona and the big ego get put out there to the field because she’s still so unsure.”
What are some goals you would like to accomplish within the next few years?
Ashley: “I definitely hope Motherland goes like a kajillion seasons if we could. I hope we go really far and I hope the world loves it as much as we do. And I also want to venture out into the movies and things of that nature. Maybe some drama and stuff like that. I love a good drama. I love the good cry being a good person. And in the meantime,when i’m just honing in on my craft and really working at it so I can get to where I want to be ultimately.”
Julian: “That’s really good because I hope I can see you within the next few years especially on the red carpet.”
Ashley: “Oh yes, that would be awesome. Then we’ll look at each other. We’ll be like, ‘you remember a few years ago when we did our first interview for Motherland season one?” (Laughs)
Since the mid-season premiere, we witnessed a dark and tight-spaced cave, Beta auditioning to be Michael Myers, and “that” Negan and Alpha scene that got everyone talking. The Whisperers are beginning to bring the war to the communities and tonight’s episode, we see how the group will prepare for it. Here is my recap of “Morning Star.”
Beta is cutting the center of the tree to see if sap can be poured. We also see that he has done this to the other trees in that area. Negan is with Alpha and he asks if there will be more “kinky Whisperer shit” going on. Alpha rolled up her sleeve and told Negan to whip her arm with the branch. Negan was puzzled at first, but Alpha told him to do it. Negan does this and when he finishes, Alpha does the same to his arm. There are a mix of walkers from Alpha’s horde and Whisperers walking and Alpha and Beta are doing the “end of the world/we take them all” chant. We also see that Negan has a Whisperer mask now.
Eugene is talking to Stephanie over the radio and Stephanie mentions that she seen the satellite crashing down not too long ago. Stephanie also says that they must be close since she seen it. Eugene told her that they are in Virginia and asked Stephanie when they should meet. Stephanie replied by telling him that she wants to meet him too, but she will have to talk to her group about it first. Alden and Earl notices that Aaron and other members from Alexandria arrive and they both see that they brought Mary with them (their first time seeing her unmasked). Aaron told Earl and Alden who she was, and they both agree that she does not belong there regardless that her nephew is there. It is clear here that Earl does not trust her. Carol is at Daryl’s old camp site and Ezekiel visits her. They talk about the cave and Ezekiel is worried about her. He even says that they could stay there all day and talk even if they are being bit by mosquitos.
Kelly tells Luke that she does not want to leave Connie out there and Yumiko told Kelly that she thinks that they are both dead. While Kelly is not trying to hear that, Daryl and Judith arrives to Hilltop in his motorcycle. Daryl told Yumiko that they did not get far and Lydia said that they cannot go back out there because Alpha is coming.
Rosita enters the attic of Hilltop where the radio equipment is there and hears Stephanie’s voice. Rosita asks who it is and while she is doing this, Eugene climbs down the ladder and tried to respond to Stephanie. Eugene did not expect Rosita to come to him since he was told that nobody should know about this. Eugene commented on Rosita’s wounds as she said that she fought a Whisperer (she did not name him (Beta). Eugene told Rosita to leave before he says something that he will regret. Eugene apologized to Stephanie over the radio, but she did not respond. Alpha and Negan are alone again and Negan tells Alpha that she does not need to attack just yet as he believes that they will join her side. At the meeting at Hilltop, They all debate on whether if they should leave or stay to fight. Earl believes that they should fight and Lydia lets them all know that Alpha’s horde will not go around Hilltop, but through the front. Daryl told everyone to get all of the children away from Hilltop and take them to Oceanside. They do exactly that (including getting RJ out of there) and Judith wanted to stay and battle and Daryl told Judith that he will not allow her to stay. While they were on their way to Oceanside, there is a road block with a walker hanging on the tree on the side of the road block. Daryl figures out that Negan did this and that he is with Alpha now.
Daryl and the rest goes back to Hilltop to tell them about the road block and Kelly says that they cannot stay there at all. Luke wanted to call Alexandria and Hilltop for help, but Earl not only riles everyone up for war, but also lets them know that the communities cannot help them and that they would not get there in time. While Ezekiel is getting his armor, Carol enters the room. She sees that he has the lump on his neck and even told him the line that he told her when they had their first long conversation (“Never bullshit a bullshitter”). He told her about the tumor and they both kiss. Mary finally got the chance to see her nephew, but Alden interrups her and told her that she cannot see her nephew. Aaron told Alden that she would not be dangerous, but Alden told Aaron that it is not a good idea for her to be there with her nephew due to the fact that Earl raised him since her sister left him there. After Carol and Ezekiel had sex, they have a heart to heart as Ezekiel told Carol that she has lost herself and her sense of humor. Ezekiel also brings up losing his pride and asked if they would have done it if he did not think that he was going to die tonight. Carol’s humor side comes out at that moment with the way she replied to him.
While Eugene was checking for the power, Rosita arrives (Side note, everyone is appearing out of nowhere in this episode for some reason). She was worried on how close Beta would have gotten to kill her and talked about Stephanie. Rosita then asked Eugene if he wanted to kiss her. Eugene leaned over and almost did, but he pulled back. They both come to realize that they do not want to give what The Whisperers want and that is, them in fear. Eugene however, kissed her on her cheek. Lydia looks at the heart sign of “H+L” that she made and Carol has a conversation with her about Alpha and about Carol hating herself and about people not telling the truth anymore. Lydia also feels very loney and depressed too. Everyone else is making electric barricades and Yumiko apologized to Kelly for what she said earlier and they hug. Then, a swarm of rats are running from the bushes and that signaled that the horde is coming. Eugene is singing “The Wild Wind Blows” by Iron Maiden while a montage of everyone getting ready for war is shown. Stephanie replies by singing the rest of the song. Stephanie and Eugene also talk about Rosita and Eugene calls Rosita his BFF. Then out of nowhere, Stephanie told Eugene that they are in West Virginia and to arrive at the train yard within the next week. Ezekiel and Daryl talk for a brief moment and Ezekiel reveals to Daryl that he has cancer and Daryl told him that despite them not talking that much, he understands what they are going through. They both made a pact in which if one of them goes down, the other gets the children. Judith talks about Rick Grimes and what would he have done if he was still around. She also fixes the right wing on Daryl’s vest and Daryl loves it. Daryl told Judith if he gets lost, for her and RJ to go to Ezekiel and she promises that she will.
Carol looks at the portaits of the Greene family and Daryl is looking down on Glenn’s grave. Daryl also told Carol that he will never hate her as they patched things up. At night, Daryl picks up the morning star chain weapon and everyone is positioned for battle as Aaron leads the militia. The horde and Whisperers arrive and the walkers begin to break through the electric fence. Aaron ordered the group to be split in two for both sides of the inner fence as the walkers are beginning to walk towards the thick barbed wire. The arrows from everyone else behind the shield are being shot at walkers and everyone else in the front begins to take down walkers. This continued for a few more minutes until Beta begins launching the sap bombs at the militia. One person of the militia was burned to death as they all figured out that it was flammable. Alpha gets the fire ready and Negan told her that he thought that she was going top make them join them. Alpha replies that they will literally join them as walkers and Negan thought that it was “bad ass.” Alpha readies the flaming arrows for everyone to launch and Negan even joined this. The walkers break through the thick barbed wire and Daryl told everyone to retreat since there are way too many. As they were retreating, the fire arrows that were launched from The Whisperers’ side made it to the entrance of Hilltop and everything in the front was set on fire. The episode ends as Daryl and everyone else has nowhere to go but fight the horde as the fire is behind them.
This episode reminded me of the earlier seasons of Game of Thrones where the buildup is for 80% of the episode and the other 20% of the episode is a small taste of the battle which means the episode after this one will be the full scale battle. With that aside, this is an excellent episode and there were many callbacks to earlier seasons such as the road block caused by Negan, that line Ezekiel said to Carol in early season 7 is now being said by Carol to Ezekiel, and how Daryl stared at the graves before war just like Rick did. My favorite interractions on this episode were Ezekiel and Carol as they both come to terms that they are more of themselves and not just people who are queen and king at The Kingdom. Their conversations were down to earth and I love it. Also, bonus points for Daryl and Carol not hating eachother and I am sure that the “Caryl” fans will love that too.
Carol’s scene with Lydia is some of the best dialouge of the entire season as it felt more like watching a mom and daughter have a heart to heart. Now for the start of the battle, that last 10 minutes was extremely planned well and it gave us a taste of the chaos of The Whisperer War. I also thought that it was smart for Beta to use the tree sap bombs first before everyone else launching the fire arrows. That was a slight not to not only the comic series as The Hilltop was burned top the ground by fire arrows, but to also a trick used during World War 1. I am however a bit puzzled to why the meeting location of The Commonwealth is changed from the comics as in the comics, it was in Ohio and now on the television series, it is in West Virginia. There were many scenes from the comic that were adapted, and remixed for this episode that I enjoyed and I cannot wait for the next episode!
For the last few years, Fear The Walking Dead has had a panel at Wonder Con with the cast and crew taking the stage to talk about the season. This year, there will be a change as AMC will not bring Fear The Walking Dead to WonderCon this year. Taking Fear’s place at WonderCon will be the second spinoff series, The Walking Dead: World Beyond.
World Beyond is a limited series that takes place ten years into the apocalypse in Nebraska. The series will feature two young female protagonists and focus on the first generation to come-of-age in the apocalypse along with more members of the communituy that they are all in. The walkers in this series is referred to as “empties” and there is a reason that they are referred to that as we will all find that out on the first episode.
One of the main drawing points of the series is that the CRM Helicopter group that has taken Rick Grimes, and Heath, and traded more people for supplies will be heavily featured on this mini series. CRM has connected the main show and Fear in the past and it seems like World Beyond will be the series to not only be the third connection to bring every series in the franchise together, but to also lead in to the Untitled Walking Dead Rick Grimes’ movies as well. I believe some those questions will be addressed at WonderCon. As far as Fear The Walking Dead goes, I believe the next time everyone will see the cast and the debut trailer will be sometime before San Diego Comic Con season!
No details have been revealed yet on which cast members will be in attendance at the panel along with which day the panel will take place, but AMC and WonderCon will release that information weeks before WonderCon begins.