Currently, the number one trending Netflix series is Fate: The Winx Saga, which is a live action adaptation which follows Bloom (Abigail Cowen, who played Dorcas, one of the Weird Sisters in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), as she arrives in what can be best described as a sort of Hogwarts, Alfea School in the Otherworld. There, along with her fairy powers, she discovers some eccentric and wonderful dorm mates.
One of those dorm mates is standout Elisha Applebaum, who plays Musa, a fairy with the power of empathy. As such, when Brief Take spoke with Applebaum exclusively from London on the day of the premiere, she asked us how we were doing, and went from there. Applebaum gives a wonderfully heartfelt performance on the popular show and was extremely kind and well-spoken about the series to boot. The talented actress has a bright future ahead of her and one may even say she’s…magical.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our Zoom interview with the spirited Elisha Applebaum.
Brief Take: Hi, Elisha! So I’m curious, how did it feel for you in terms of filming together with the ensemble?
Elisha Applebaum: It was amazing. I think that we were all in very similar positions in which this was a lot of our big first moment to prove ourselves as actors and come into a space that’s very new, and we were all very nervous and very excited. We all leaned on each other, which was very nice. We all had each other to lean on throughout the process and filming was like a big hug for all of us. It was us looking after each other and making sure that we were ok. Having Abbey (Abigail Cowen) was amazing, because she’s already been through this with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. She was kind of our leader in a way because she would tell us that it’s ok and tell us that this was going to happen, get yourself ready, and all that sort of thing, so it was really nice. I couldn’t have wished for a better cast, to be honest. We’re actually blessed.
BT: Tell me about bonding with your fellow cast members on and off set.
EA: Well…God…with Precious (Mustapha), I met Precious in the process of auditioning and we kept in touch throughout the auditions, because we thought that each other were pretty cool. When we found out that each other had gotten the part, we thought we’ll go for a drink and go for a coffee and have some food and talk about the part and do it together. We kind of came into it together, which was really helpful. But with the girls, I think our first week, we were doing rehearsals and we decided that at the end of the week, we’ll see how everyone is and we’ll have a cup of tea or a glass of wine to chat about how it’s all going. We continue to do it and look after each other and I think that’s kind of created the core, really.
BT: This is an amazing female-driven series, but the boys are there as well. What was it like working with Jacob Dudman and Danny Griffin?
EA: Yeah! The boys were fab. They were great. I actually also met Danny before the show, because he knew a couple of my friends. I’d already known Danny before I came in, but Jacob is an easy and great person with whom to work so it made all those scenes so much more comfortable and easy to do. All the boys are just very lovable characters and you see that on screen. I think [chuckles] Freddie (Thorp) and Theo (Graham), when we were outside of filming, would do their own thing. They’re as cool as they are on screen, they went go-karting and all these fun, exciting things. I think that they picked a great cast.
BT: Your character, Musa, goes through something of a transformation and softens her look, dressing differently through the series. What do you think inspires the change?
EA: I think it’s her finding love and more feeling her emotions. I think that at the beginning, she’s kind of in military wear—she’s wearing boots, trousers with pockets, a bomber jacket, very hard-hitting. [laughs] But it’s like she’s broken down the walls and she’s becoming herself, which is actually really nice to see from her.
BT: With your headphones, did you happen to have a song playing at the time?
EA: [laughs] I wish there was a song playing. There’s nothing playing. It was a very strange period in which I thought Musa listened to Rock music. And I thought that it would be really heavy music and that she wouldn’t have to think about anything else, but listening to this wild music. But then when you watch it, it’s obviously very calm and [chuckles] sort of meditative music, which would also make a lot of sense. If there’s going to be a season two, that is definitely something I will have to remember and take into that because she softens up throughout. I think it is nice that she has this meditative, soft music, because it is her inside.
BT: The role feels like an immersion in a way. Do you think like Musa and possess similar qualities?
EA: On set, there were moments when maybe I got into my head a couple of times and I was told: “Elisha, look, just be yourself”. I was like: Maybe I am a bit like Musa. Coming away from it, I think that I am a bit like Musa in that I really enjoy my own space. [laughs loudly] Maybe it’s lockdown that has taught me this, but Musa likes to have her own safety net- which is her headphones. I have a safety net – which is my bedroom and I can close the door and get out of any social situation, when, if it gets overwhelming and stuff, there are bits like that. I like how quirky she is with her style. I think I might be a little bit similar in that respect as well. She’s got fantastic knitwear, on which I also pride myself. [laughs]
BT: What do you think of Musa’s choice to date her best friend’s brother and then not to tell her about it?
EA: Uhhh…not in secret. [laughs] Musa should have said something. I don’t think you should…and in any case, as a friend, you should say something. If it’s right and you feel like you need to take it forward, then you need to speak to your pal. Your pal, if they’re your friend, they will be there for you even if it is a brother, or whomever. I mean, I don’t recommend it, because [laughs] I’ve been told: “Don’t eat where you go to the toilet”. But [chuckles] if that’s your preference, do it!
BT: When I was preparing to speak with you, I watched some of the animated series that inspired Fate: The Winx Saga…
EA: [singing] We are the magic Winx, rising up together. [chuckles] Yes. [laughs]
BT: Your series is a reimagining, but do you look to the animated series as bit of a guide?
EA: I will be honest, when I auditioned for it, I watched probably the first season of the Winx animation and I thought that I could turn to it. But Musa, in the animation, she’s a fairy of music and not a fairy of mind. A lot of things have changed and the majority of the character I had to change anyway. But it’s great, it’s very different to the Winx that we know. [laughs]
BT: The scenery on this show was incredible. Was it shot in Wicklow?
EA: Yeaaah. It was so magical and obviously, you’ve seen it now…three times. [laughs] There’s a really great scene in which we’re around the bowl and we’re using our powers. And there’s this massive waterfall in the background. It looks like a green screen but it was actually real, and it was incredible filming there. Dublin is a very magical place and it was the perfect place to film a fantasy series for sure.
BT: Do you have a favourite memory from the set?
EA: I keep thinking back to our last scene. Production were really lovely and for our last scene, it was a scene in which every single cast member was on set, which we hadn’t really had before. It was a really beautiful moment in which we’d known we’d created something that is so special to us. We were all giving each other hugs and congratulating everyone. It was just a really great time.
BT: You seem to have an affinity for Harry Potter. Do you feel shades of it within the series?
EA: I would say that Musa is a Hufflepuff. I would say that she is a bit of a Hufflepuff. (The series) is very Harry Potter-esque in a way. And I hope that comes through, because everyone loves Harry Potter [laughs]
BT: Did you grow up watching the movies and reading the Harry Potter books?
EA: I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read the books. I have seen some of the films, but as a youngster, for some reason, I didn’t get into it. It was never really my thing. I’m not sure why, but I’ve come to love it. I actually did a marathon of it in the second lockdown. I’m kept up to date now and know Harry Potter. [chuckles]
BT: Which is your favourite movie?
EA: Ah! [quickly] Chamber of Secrets, always. It’s got to be. It gets darker as it goes on, doesn’t it?
BT: You’re passionate about issues such as mental health and supporting Black Lives Matter during a time of protests, and now you seem to be working on a podcast.
EA: I think it’s so important to have the conversation. If something is brewing, if something is not being talked about, you talk about it. That’s the only way you can make it non-alien. If something is alien, then chat about it and that’s the way to get aware. The podcast that I’m doing, it comes out on the first of February. It’s brewing. But we’re talking about female empowerment and how women haven’t had a voice in the industry and we’re starting to (do this) and how we can continue that and create a bigger platform for us. Yeah, I think that conversations have to be had. If the conversation isn’t had, how can we move forward?!
BT: What sort of things have you been quaranstreaming?
EA: The first series that I watched that I really loved, this says a lot about how long ago I was watching a series and really enjoyed it, but the first season I was like: if TV can do this, this is wicked. I watched Bloodline, I don’t know if you’ve seen it…
EA: I watched Bloodline, and I was like: “This is actually brilliant”, and then all these new things came out, I’m currently watching WandaVision, it’s amazing what we can do now with TV! So I’m kind of trying to sink my teeth into everything. I’m watching The Serpent, I just finished that. I’m watching Bridgerton, I watched Ted Lasso. Have you seen Ted Lasso?
BT: I haven’t, no.
EA: Ah! It’s phenomenal. If you want a big hug through television, it’s just a lovely, funny thing to watch.
BT: I do want a big hug through television!
BT: Your series is very comforting as well.
EA: I’m glad it feels comforting, it was very comforting and it still is. All of us girls and guys keep in touch. I went on holiday with Precious and Hannah (van der Westhuysen), I went on holiday with Jacob and Danny and some friends. We are all so close and we did create that bond. I think that we all miss each other dearly. I think that this show has really created some lifelong friends and I’m glad that you guys feel it and can see that, because they’re brilliant. [chuckles]
BT: How does it feel for you that the series is coming out now, during the Covidian era?
EA: It is insane. [laughs] It is a weird feeling having it done over technology because as soon as I look on my phone or something, I’ve done this amazing show and everyone’s enjoying it and it has reached so far, [chuckles] but then I put the phone down and I’m back in reality. And I’m sitting, having a cup of tea, doing work. [laughs] It’s a very strange experience. It would have been amazing to do the premiere with everyone and to see them because it feels like such a long time, but we are having a great time here today anyway. It’s a very crazy thing to happen in my lifetime [laughs] and I am so grateful for it.
BT: Who is somebody that inspires you?
EA: My friends, my family. They inspire me every day. It was a weird one, actually, my friend, Amelia [Eve], she has done a Netflix series (The Haunting of Bly Manor), and she and I, we were meeting up almost every week and just chatting about life and egging each other on, telling each other we can do it, and we were giving each other auditions (and still are), but we sat in her garden and were like: we can do this, it’s gonna happen, we can feel it. I got Fate: The Winx Saga and she was overwhelmed. When your friend or family gets something amazing, it’s the most incredible feeling. It’s something beyond, beyond words can say. And then about a week later, she got Bly Manor. If that’s not inspiration, I think that it will be hard to find it anywhere else. My friends and family have definitely been there, pushing me through the hard times as well as helping me through the good times.
Fate: The Winx Saga is now streaming on Netflix
*Featured image photo credit: Joseph Sinclair*