Fate: The Winx Saga's Elisha Applebaum on How Hardcore Metal Helped Her Get Into Character
At the end of January, Netflix finally launched Fate: The Winx Saga - a highly anticipated live-action reimagining of the popular animated series from the Noughties. It launched the careers of a whole cast of new-coming actors, who suddenly found themselves racking up an impressive number of Instagram followers and fans during a global pandemic. One of them is Elisha Applebaum, a 25-year-old British actor who trained part-time at a drama school in London and only had a couple of roles in small productions before landing a leading role in the show. A few weeks after the show was released, we spoke to Elisha to find out what the reaction has been like, how she got into character and what she wants to see in the newly announced second season…
How did you first get into acting?
My mom put me into musical theatre when I was about five and from then on, it has always stayed with me. I quit when I was about 16 and started working, trying to get a stable income - but it was still something that I loved and that was always in the back of my mind. Then, a couple of years ago, I realised it was what I needed to be doing and decided it was time to step it up.
You’re now starring in the Netflix series Fate: The Winx Saga; how did you react when you found out you had booked the show?
I was speechless. I cried in the kitchen with my mom. It was just amazing, I never thought that I would be able to do that. I was so shocked but it was amazing.
How would you describe Musa, your character in the show, in your own words?
Musa is a mind fairy. She has the ability to read other people’s emotions and feel them herself, which is actually a huge burden. As a 16-year-old you're already feeling your own emotions, and then she has to feel all these angsty teenager’s emotions on top of her own. She wears these headphones to drown out the din of that. And she's just cool and quirky.
Would you say you relate to her experience of being a teenager?
I was definitely a closed-off teenager too. I kept myself to myself and didn't really have one particular best friend. I would hover through different friendship groups and didn’t really find myself during school. I think that's similar to Musa, she just goes with it. She doesn't really accept the love that she gets and keeps up this barrier, so no one can get in at first.
How did you prepare for the role?
I panicked, at first. Then, I thought about the fact that Musa wears headphones all the time and realised I actually had someone quite close to me that always wore headphones at parties too. So I spoke to them about why they wear their headphones and learned that it was a way for them to cope when things got too overwhelming. So, I really took that on board. I also created a playlist for Musa, to listen to on the headphones.
What kind of songs are on that playlist?
Hardcore metal. I thought it was the type of music she would listen to – but then when the show came out, they put some meditative music over what she listened to. That definitely wasn’t what I had envisioned for her, but it still made total sense to me in the end. When you constantly feel so many emotions, I guess you need to chill out a bit.
The theme of female friendships is super important in this series, was that something that drew you to this project?
100%. Once I found out that most of the cast were female, and it was also filmed by females, we created such a massive bond with each other. It was so empowering filming it, as well as the storyline being empowering. It was just amazing, and as one of my first bigger jobs, it was more than I could have wished for really.
The filming locations are absolutely stunning on screen, where they as spectacular in real life too?
Yes, it was magical. In the scene when we all sit in a circle using our magic, you see a water pool in the background – and that was actually real. It was incredible. Then one of the parties was at an abandoned castle. Everywhere we went was just beautiful. It was as magical as people know Ireland to be.
Did you have a favourite scene to film?
My favourite filming moment was when all of us girls go to fight the Burned One with Sky. We all got to use our magic; it was a really fun day on set because it was all imagination-based, it was so fun to play with everyone.
What has your experience of launching a show during the pandemic been like?
I'm glad that we released it during a global pandemic. I think it's something great for people to watch during this time because it gives them a way to escape. It would have definitely been a very different experience if it was released outside of the lockdown, but I don’t know any different, so this has been great either way. And it’s been very nice to see everyone’s reactions on social media. People seem to be excited and happy with it. I don’t think it could have been any better really.
Why do you think someone that hasn’t watched the show yet should tune in?
You should tune in because it covers everything - you've got horror, teen drama, more mature scenes, fantasy and so much more. It has everything you want when you watch a series. You'll be crying, you'll be laughing, you'll be frightened and it’s also for everyone of all ages. Even my Nan and Grandad have watched and loved it.
A second season has just been announced, so what would you like to see happen next for Musa?
I want to see her come into her own more. This season, she really struggled to stand up and fight, because she was worried about honing her powers. She didn't really have these powers that she had at the end and just felt a bit left out. I think it will be nice for her to stand up and actually fend for herself. Also, it would be nice to see what her family are like. She mentions a bit towards the end, but I think there is so much more to uncover.
What do you like to watch on Netflix yourself?
I love The Queen's Gambit. It was amazing. Who knew that they could make chess cool? I've been watching Big Mouth as well. It’s so funny but also teaches some great lessons.
What can we expect next from you?
I'd love to do some indie movies and play some complex characters. We also get a season two of Winx, so we can start doing that first...
Photographer Joseph Sinclair
Stylist Tilly Wheating
Hair and Makeup by Erica Schlegel
Words by Cailin Klohk
Fate: The Winx Saga is available on Netflix