When Netflix premiered the first season of The Witcher almost four years ago, the world was introduced to one of its most promising young stars, Therica Wilson-Read. The “life-changing” turning point that The Witcher represented for the British actress came well-earned after her years studying at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, after which she continued to hone her craft at panels and workshops. Three seasons into The Witcher, Wilson-Read still maintains that, “You never stop learning as an actor.”
The trajectory of Wilson-Read’s career has proved it, and her determination continues to pay off. Alongside The Witcher, she has nabbed a role in another highly anticipated project – Back to Black, the upcoming Amy Winehouse biopic starring Marisa Abela as the late singer-songwriter. We had the chance to sit down with Wilson-Read for a hint of what we might expect from Back to Black, her success on The Witcher, and the bright future that lies ahead of her. Read our interview with Therica Wilson-Read below.
How did you initially get into acting? Are you from a creative family?
My father is a creative and my mother is a doctor, so I like to think I got the best of both worlds. I am very lucky because both parents have been so supportive in every one of my endeavors, and especially in my acting career. I was thinking of pursuing law or psychology, and it was actually my mother who pointed out that acting made me happiest and I should consider drama school. She was right, and I have never looked back!
Tell us about life growing up in London. What are some of your favorite haunts?
Growing up in London was exciting, and to this day I don’t think I have explored every nook and cranny. I lived in East London for a while and spent my childhood in Broadway Market and London Fields. Then, I moved north and was constantly going to the Vue in Islington and spending my evenings watching films. Every Saturday was spent at Guildhall School of Music playing the cello. My dad used to always take me to the museums and art galleries, and I treasure those memories. I love the British Museum and the V&A. Now, I live in West London, and I am definitely a homebody, but you can normally find me being worked to a sweat by India Bailey on a Tuesday in Saint John’s Wood or taking reformer pilates classes at Karve. I have a sweet tooth, so I head to the London Bridge to eat doughnuts at Bread Ahead, Granger in Notting Hill for hot cakes, and Zafferanos for the best tiramisu I’ve ever eaten.
You went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Looking back, how did studying there inform who you are today as a performer?
I learned so much from the RADA Foundation in terms of voice and bodywork as well as ways to approach text, which have been incredibly useful at different points in my career and something on which I always fall back. However, I think the thing that has informed me the most is watching others and seeing people I shared spaces with succeed. I hadn’t been in a space where it was the norm to act every day, and the RADA Foundation gave me the confidence to put my heart and soul into making an acting career work. Post RADA, I went to university, and after that, I spent hours in casting director workshops, agent panels, and workshops such as GoHub. I don’t believe you ever stop learning as an actor. Dana Ivey said, “As I learn as an actor, I grow as a person. As I grow as a person, I grow as an actor. It’s a continuing circle,” and I agree wholeheartedly with that statement.
Can you tell us about your role in The Witcher as Sabrina Glevissig?
Sabrina Glevissig was a life-changing role for me and one that I adore playing. I have spent so long delving into her personality that she feels like a second skin. In Season 1, you watch Sabrina turn from the girl who was never able to get her mother’s love into her ideal version of a powerful woman. In Season 2, you see Sabrina stab Yennefer in a battle, even though Yennefer is the closest thing to a sister she will have, despite their rivalry. In Season 3, you see Sabrina as a woman who knows who she is and knows her place on the political spectrum. She is happy to speak up for what she believes in. I think that her goal is to find a place in which she is truly loved and respected for who she is, whether that be a person or a political arena. Until then, she is very happy being the center of attention and using everything in her toolbox to gain power.
How have the show and your character evolved in the new season?
Sabrina grows every season, and this season is no different. In Season 3, she is feistier, more confident, and far more cutting, which is incredibly enjoyable to play. You start to see clearly the constant rivalry between her and Yennefer that’s depicted in the books as well as the love/hate sisterly bond underneath it. I feel like Sabrina is misunderstood because, despite her negative qualities, she always puts her life on the line to do the right thing. In Season 3, you see that as well as the consequences of losing places and people she deeply loves.
What are some of your most memorable moments on set?
We’ve all been working together for five years, so there are so many wonderful and memorable moments. One of my favorites from this season happened in the makeup room. We had put on a playlist with some hits from artists like Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Madonna, and at some point, we all left our makeup chairs and found ourselves dancing in the middle of the trailer belting the lyrics. It was just unbridled joy, which demonstrates what working with these incredible people is like.
Tell us what it was like behind the scenes working with the cast. Was there anybody on set with whom you particularly connected?
Everyone gets along incredibly well on and off set, and I’m so lucky that I can be part of a show in which I call my cast mates friends. We have all hung out off set, so I can’t go through absolutely everyone because you would have an essay on your hands! I think my favorite scenes are the ones with the other sorceresses. They are people I have spent the last five years watching and cheering on, and we also have quite a few new characters who have joined that fit seamlessly into The Witcher family.
Can you tell us about your production, Stop Motion, also featuring Aisling Franciosi and Tom York?
Stop Motion is an exceptional debut feature film from Robert Morgan, who directed and wrote it alongside Robin King. It’s a psychological horror film about a stop-motion animator that slowly becomes a battleground for her sanity. I played the role of Polly, a character who was constantly misreading the emotional content of the room. I can’t give any spoilers away, but the ending may or may not be grisly. Working with Tom York, Aisling Franciosi, and Caoilinn Springall was a dream because I have seen all of their work before and loved their performances.
We heard you will also be starring in Back to Black, the upcoming Amy Winehouse biopic. What can you tell us about your role in it?
I can’t give anything away, sorry! What I can say is that I was fortunate to recently work with Marisa Abela and Jack O’Connell on Back to Black, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. To participate in a film about Amy Winehouse was incredibly moving for me because, despite not knowing her, I feel like I grew up with her – listening to her music, watching her interviews, singing her songs at RADA, and also seeing her in the media. It is wonderful to play a part in spreading awareness of the issues she was battling in hopes that it will help others, as well as being respectful and kind to her memory.
Fast forward 10 years – where do you see yourself? Any major career goals? Are there any directors you would love to work with or characters you are dying to play?
I have so many directors I would love to work with, including Greta Gerwig, Chloé Zhao, Damien Chazelle, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and James Cameron. A writer and director I would cut off a limb to work with is Emerald Fennell! I know she has a film coming out called Saltburn that I am so excited to watch. A long time ago, I was part of the Young Friends of the Almeida and was able to perform on their stage. I like to think that in 10 years, I will be able to say that I have been back on that stage in one of their shows.
Who are your favorite designers right now to wear on the red carpet?
I’ve been lucky enough to wear some wonderful designers like Galvan and 16Arlington. For Season 3, I had a wildly talented team – Justin Hamilton styled me in a dress by Tran Hung that I adored, Willis Galbraith did my hair, and Georgia Rose did my makeup. I have never felt more beautiful. I also can’t get enough of Miss Sohee, Feben, Magda Butrym, and my all-time favorites, Elie Saab and Vivienne Westwood. I would love to wear them in the future.
What else are you looking forward to? Any exciting plans for the summer or new projects you are working on?
So many things, but I have to keep quiet about them until later!
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