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Fan Fest Exclusive: Taylor Hickson on ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’

Motherland: Fort Salem is an upcoming American drama series created by Eliot Laurence that is set to premiere on Freeform on March 18, 2020. It follows three young witches with basic training in combat magic prepare to defend the country against looming terrorist threats by using supernatural tactics and weapons. I recently spoke to Taylor Hickson who plays Raelle.

“Some of the really important messages that Motherland conveys is that they push a lot of boundaries. Freeform is really great at that, they touch base with history and real relevant issues,” said Hickson. “I say essentially the first apparent difference is the gender role reversal. In today’s world, we’re still trying to shake unhealthy traditionalist idealisms with toxic masculinity being a result of some of these and see a lot of these women carrying some of those traits and pushing themselves really hard to be courageous or emotionally detached and more focused on an independent success rather than team strategy. But that’s a huge theme and the stigma that we’re trying to break in the series. And that’s something that I admired critically.”

In addition to pushing boundaries, this show is also shedding light on Wiccan culture.

“It’s much more true to Wiccan culture and a lot of their beliefs, there’s nothing Satanic about it. And I think that is sort of the stereotype is taken on in a lot of the current witch shows or in some that have gone on in the last 10 years. So, this is bringing light to the culture and I think it’s something that is needed heavily. I think it’s very misunderstood as a community. We don’t use the word magic on our show, but there are different types of supernatural abilities. For instance, my character is a healer. She has the ability to, with incantations and sort of a different language that’s native to the witches, can heal someone that is injured or sick.”

Some witches are healers, others are Blasters or witches with incredible strength and the ability to manipulate the environment around them to protect others. There are also Knowers, who can see around corners and hear thoughts. They know what is coming before it comes. There are also witches who deal with the circle of life, death, and grief.

Fan Fest Exclusive: Taylor Hickson on 'Motherland: Fort Salem'
Ron Mey

“Initially when you meet her (Raelle) I think she’s a bit hard to love, she’s jaded and guarded, defensive. She likes to challenge authority. She’s aggressive, angry at the world and at herself, but she’s also very guilty. I think that makes her very dynamic because in contrast, we see how passionate she is. And as true to herself as she is and real and grounded, and just raw, she’s not shy about showing the way she feels and going for what she wants and her integrity is something that I admire greatly.”

Hickson hints that Raelle will form relationships where she is able to break out of her shell.

“There is no good and bad and every character is out there fighting for their cause, which I think is the best course of action and in turn, may hurt other people. But I think that having that relationship with the gray, between black and white, good and evil, I think that’s something that’s so humane ironically. And again, I think that’s what makes Raelle so dynamic and believable is that she’s not so one track or static and she has these hard moments and soft moments and she has people she opens up to and people she doesn’t. She’s got people she trusts and I think that’s what makes her so grounded and believable.”

The witches in the show are training to become warriors and Hickson sheds some light on what they are preparing for. The Spree is the main threat of Motherland.

“The Spree are sort of protesting that idea and saying to the government, we will kill your people as long as you keep condemning our people. But the original agreement that we had was they were killing witches back in the Salem Witch Trials. So, our General went to the government and said, ‘If you stop killing our people, we will go to war for you. Every witch at the age of 18 will be conscripted and we will fight your nation’s war for you,’ and that idea sort of caught on globally. But the problem we’re having in our country is this group called the Spree is basically creating a genocide of civilian people to say to the government ‘liberate our people, free our people,’ and in turn, we have to protect the government and the civilians. It becomes a witch on witch battle.”

Hickson is very interested in the Wiccan culture and even dabbles in it. She’s proud to see how much care was put into making this show true to witch history.

“It’s a sort of a love child of history and modern Wiccan culture. I took to studying the more modern community because so much of it stems from very, very ancient beliefs and idealisms and practices, that history is sort of all woven throughout today’s practices. I think it kind of bleeds into one another. But I have always held an interest beforehand. I’ve always been a very spiritual individual. There were rituals that I practiced that was, I guess, sort of considered witchcraft, or of the like, and so it was really exciting to dive into that giant bucket of knowledge and sort of have true Wiccan culture meet the make-believe world of Motherland.”

“I find the community to be very warm and welcoming of other people who want to learn more and I just love everything that the Wiccan community stands for. I think it’s very beautiful, there’s nothing dark or evil about it. I love that this series is really stepping into the role of breaking that stigma. The world of Motherland is just supercharged by female empowerment and the Wiccan community is very female-dominated.”

Fan Fest Exclusive: Taylor Hickson on 'Motherland: Fort Salem'
Ron Mey

Are you pumped to see this show yet? Hickson and I sure are!

“We’ve been waiting! We’re incredibly excited, probably a lot more than anybody else to see our show but we’re just so excited to share with everyone and now that we’re putting out the promotions, I think other people are starting to be as excited as we are.”

Motherland: Fort Salem premieres Wednesday, March 18 on Freeform.

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