Today is International Mermaid Day! And not only that, it is also the premiere day of Freeform’s newest show, Siren. The show is a combination of many genres, with elements of science fiction, fantasy and action. The show takes place in Bristol Cove, a town who residents have always celebrated the wildlife of the sea. Until one day, a mysterious creature from the water violently attacks a fisherman’s ship. And when a mysterious girl shows up on land, the town is forever changed.
At last year’s New York Comic Con, YEM spoke with the female stars of the show: Fola Evans-Akingbola who plays Maddie, and Eline Powell, who plays the Siren herself, Ryn. The ladies talked about what makes Siren unique and how the show creates a new approach to mythical mermaids.
(Eline Powell and Fola Evans- Akingbola)
Young Entertainment Mag: Tell us about your characters.
Eline Powell: I play Ryn, the Siren. She’s come on land and she’s never been on land before. So it’s all quite intimidating for her. But on the other hand, she’s used to being a top level predator, so there’s a certain confidence and naïveté with. She’s very curious, but is very much on a mission as well.
Fola Evans-Akingbola: I play Maddie Bishop. She’s studying to be a marine biologist and she works with Ben [the lead male character, played by Alex Roe] in the marine mammal center. She’s the step-daughter of the sheriff in town so she’s kind of trying to find her own independence and find what she wants to do in her life. And then in comes Ryn into her world and that turns everything in her world upside down.
YEM: Your characters don’t interact in episode 1. Will your characters eventually meet?
Eline: Oh, completely. Very much so.
Fola: For sure. Their parts really intertwine.
Eline: There’s definitely intrigue on both sides.
Fola: Yeah, because [Maddie] is a marine biologist, so she’s interested in Ryn on that level. But also, you know, how would we all react if another worldly creature came into our lives that looked like this? Ryn is exploring the world for the first time too. So there’s mutual intrigue.
(The cast and executive producers of Siren)
YEM: What drew you to this project?
Fola: I was really excited because it was something that I’ve never seen before. I love the fresh take that the writers have brought to mermaids. With all the scripts, I’m always surprised by what’s happening. They’re always keeping me on my toes. I really love that. And also the three dimensional aspect of all the characters is such a treat.
Eline: The whole show is fantastic, but my God, to play a mermaid? It feels like your mind can just run free. It’s just been an amazing time to discover Ryn physically and how her language develops, and just have fun and play. It’s been great.
YEM: Will we see the Siren begin to adjust more as a human? Or will she remain dark and mysterious?
Eline: As the story progresses, her objectives slowly change or at least start to have obstacles in the way of what she originally planned to do on land. And her intrigue builds. But she will always be a mermaid, you know. She’ll never be quite like the other characters.
YEM: When the Siren first comes to land, she barely speaks so she is very physical and has lots of movements. At the Comic Con panel, you mentioned being a ballet dancer. Did that help with your character? Was it difficult to play a character that didn’t talk much?
Eline: At the beginning she is physical because I’ve approached it like she is an animal. A highly intelligent animal, but ultimately someone whose life depends on survival in the ocean, which can’t be easy. I’ve watched tons and tons of documentaries about fish and about sea mammals. Just watching them and the way they move, and then looked at land predators and then tried to reverse it. Like if we suddenly went down in the sea for the first time, how would we feel? You’d feel a constant danger, like everything around you is a threat. So I tried to reverse it like that. And then I listened to a lot of [Swedish singer] Bjork. I feel like she’s the closest thing in my world to something that’s magical and pure and artistry. I tried to just think logically about it. Like what would she be smelling, seeing, feeling—and then go from there.
Siren premieres tonight on Freeform at 8pm in a special two hour event!