We recently travelled to Shreveport, Louisiana to chat with Ashley Madekwe who stars on WGN America's show Salem. She filled us in on all the details of the show's seductive sophomore season, which premieres tonight at 10/9c. Scroll down for our exclusive Q&A to get the scoop, and if you haven't had the opportunity to see the show yet, be sure to catch season one on Netflix!
Tell us about Salem and your character Tituba.
“Salem is a reimagining of the Salem witch trials, and in this version of it the witches are real. In season one they’re using the trials to their advantage, and in season two we’ve moved on, and it’s a witch war. I play Tituba. In season one she was Mary’s servant to the outside world, and behind closed doors you can see their relationship was slightly different from that. In season two Mary and Tituba are at odds now—they’re kind of angry with each other.”
Before signing on to do the show did you know much about the Salem witch trials?
“The Salem witch trials are a time period I found interesting, and I’ve always loved “The Crucible” as a play. I saw it in drama school my first year, and I loved it. I love the idea of Tituba because so little historically is written about her, and in “The Crucible”, which is obviously a fictional re-telling as well, she’s a really important part of the story.”
Describe Tituba’s costume design.
“In season one we had to be careful with what we did because although she wasn’t really a servant, Joseph [the costume designer] really firmly didn’t want her dressed as the maid. He thought he could have more fun with her than that, but we couldn’t go as witchy as we’d like to. In season two, she’s already been accused of witchcraft and tortured for it, so we have a little bit more fun. We have sneaky touches that you would only see if you looked really closely. We’ve made her a bit more dangerous this season. She’s somehow become all about the boobs, which is funny because I don’t have any!”
Have you learned any new wardrobe lingo from working on the show?
“Bumroll! My bumroll is quite wide, and so is Janet’s and sometimes there’s not enough room for both of us in the scene.”
What’s the process like for putting on your costume?
“It takes a minute for sure. There are a few layers, and it depends on what’s going to be shown. If no one is going to see our feet or legs we’ll wear the warmest tights possible because it’s freezing in the woods. We always have our petticoats, and I have an uplift strapless bra, and then I put on the chemise, and then my bumroll, then I’m laced into the corset that gives me shape, then the over skirt, and then the top of the dress is put on.”
Is it hard to act in a corset?
“It’s uncomfortable! I think Janet and I are fighting against our natural body shapes because neither one of us are what you’d call curvy. If you have boobs and hips and put on a corset it looks fantastic because you’ve got a great hourglass shape, and I mean they have to pull pretty hard to get boobs out of me!”
What is like to be transported back in time on set?
“It’s great. I went to drama school, and a lot of the training there is classical, and then I graduated and I never really get to do any of that because I’m not white. I never get to do the Jane Austen or the Shakespeare—I never get to do period stuff so doing this is great.”
If you could live in any period of time for the clothing, which would you choose?
The 70s, probably.
Tell us about your blog Ring My Bell.
“Ring My Bell is my passion project. Acting is my real job, and Ring My Bell is my fun. I started it a few years ago. My husband is an actor but he likes to take pictures, and he was always taking my picture anyway. I just loved what other girls were doing. I loved Fashion Toast, Song of Style, and Sincerely Jules and I just wanted to join in I guess. I was acting then, but I wasn’t on Revenge yet so people didn’t really put two and two together. Now sometimes people question why I do it, but I feel like it would be weird to stop.”
Is there a trend for spring you’re excited about?
“The 70s are really making a comeback, which is great for me. I’ve got my flares on already, I’m looking forward to embracing that more. Going to be getting my flower child on.”
What’s your number one closet staple?
“One thing?! Probably denim, then. A great pair of jeans will take you far.”
What is the best part about playing a witch?
“The best part about playing a witch is there’s a certain amount of power behind it, and I think I’m drawn to powerful women in life and my acting ,so when I get to play powerful woman I’m excited by that. My ideal role would be to play Lady Macbeth, and I think I’m getting closer and closer with Tituba. She’s definitely quite Machiavellian, and she plays both sides.”
Would you have survived living in the 1690s?
Ashley Madekwe would not have survived because I like my creature comforts. But Tituba? Definitely. Historically, after she was accused and tried she wasn’t hung for the crimes and no one knows what happened to her. She’s probably still alive.
Be sure to check out the season 2 premiere of Salem tonight on WGN America 10/9c!