Tati Gabrielle On Playing the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s Most Stylish Villain

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Sixteen-year-old Sabrina Spellman (played by Kiernan Shipka) may be the protagonist of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the supernatural-horror Netflix series based on the Archie comic of the same name, but Prudence Night is a standard-bearer in her own right. Played by 22-year-old California native Tati Gabrielle, who also stars in The CW drama The 100 and Tarantula on TBS, Night is a Satan-worshipping, curse-wielding, samurai sword-throwing villain who plays Spellman’s arch nemesis on the Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa-written show, now in its second season. With dark, bold lips and icy blonde hair (and an even icier demeanor), Night’s aesthetic is just as fascinating as the nuanced complexities of her character.

Though we witness her nefarious disdain for Spellman time and time again, season two sees a softer side of Greendale’s stylish antagonist in that she relates to Spellman’s struggle for identity and purpose. (For those who haven’t seen the show, Spellman is constantly torn between two worlds as half-witch, half-mortal.) An orphan who’s later revealed to be the daughter of Father Blackwood, High Priest of the Church of the Night, Night’s fascinating backstory becomes clearer this season. On the heels of the premiere of season two, CR sits down with Gabrielle to talk the evolution of Night, what it was like shaving her head, and how it feels playing Greendale’s HWIC (Head Witch In Charge).

Last season, we saw Prudence as the show’s resident mean girl. How has she evolved this season?
“Prudence has come into herself a little bit more this season. She’s reconciled with her moral compass as well as her identity, too. At the end of last season, she found out who her father was and found out she wasn’t claimed. In season two, you see her really go after getting the Blackwood name, but figuring out that a name isn’t everything and there’s more to you. You can find your place in the world in a different way.”

Prudence is arguably one of the best-dressed characters on the show. How would you describe her aesthetic? Do you think it’s changed at all this season to reflect her personal evolution?
“I feel like I can’t say her style is ‘witchy’ because, of course, she’s a witch. It’s like, vintage-modern with sex appeal. Every time I walk into the fitting room, I know [costume designer] Angus Strathie is going to come up with something badass and amazing. The man’s a genius—I trust him fully. Prudence definitely gets darker this season. I mean, she’s always worn purples and browns, but she goes, like, full-on black for a period in season two and gets more cloak-y.”

You have a pretty eclectic style yourself. Has your personal aesthetic changed at all since you began playing Prudence?
“She and I [are similar] in terms of the vintage aspect. I have a bit of an old soul, so vintage clothing really speaks to me. She’s actually given me more of a feminine side. I’m very tomboy-ish in the way that I dress usually. Prudence has gotten me used to wearing cute dresses and cute skirts.”

Who’s your ultimate inspiration when it comes to clothing?
“I like old school and new school. When it comes to old school, Left Eye [Lisa Lopes] from TLC is big inspiration for me—the whole crazy, sexy, cool, tomboy-with-a-feminine flair vibe. In today’s time, Rihanna is a big inspiration for me. She’s very eccentric and eclectic in the way that she dresses and is very expressive, like, ‘This is me.’ You can understand her personality just by looking at her, and that’s something I try to do with my fashion sense as well.“

You went ice-blonde before the premiere of season one of Sabrina. Can you confirm if the old, blondes-have-more-fun adage really holds true?
“Look, blondes do have more fun. I can say that it’s true. I just love the blonde, especially because I have a caramel-colored skin tone. Any outfit I put on, the blonde instantly adds a pop. So, I have to agree with the cliché unfortunately.”

Not only did you go bleach-blonde, but you also shaved your head for season two. What was that process like?
“I always wanted to do it in high school. I was intrigued by a short cut with a color. I thought it was really edgy and cool. I asked production if it was OK, and they were like, ‘Sure, go ahead.’ Fifteen minutes before my haircut, I freaked out. I was like, What if my head’s a weird shape? What if I look strange? I was really scared. But after it was done, it was amazing. It was so liberating and such a challenge of my own beauty and my self-esteem. And it uplifted me a lot because I have nothing to hide behind anymore. It took a while to set in on me, though. About two weeks in, I looked in the mirror one day and freaked out, like, Wow, I really have no hair. But it’s grown on me. I encourage all women now to try to shave their heads at some point in their life just to feel what it’s like to see and appreciate your face. It’s an extra addition, like your clothes and your makeup. To pull that away and see yourself—it’s very frightening, but freeing. It’s just a beautiful experience in so many ways.“

You create your own finger waves. That’s a serious talent. How did you learn to do it?
“I learned from YouTube, actually. I cut my hair in a pixie about six months before I started filming Sabrina and I wanted to figure out different hairstyles. I went on YouTube and looked up “short hairstyles for African-American women,” and that’s what popped up. And because it was a vintage look, it really spoke to me. It took a bit of practice—like, several months—but I finally got it down.”

What are some of your haircare essentials?
It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-in spray is my number-one thing, especially since I dyed it blonde. It’s the only thing that puts moisture back in my hair. It’s literally a miracle. And then I use Ecoco Ecostyler Professional Styling Gel with Olive Oil—that’s what I use for the finger waves and if I really want to slick my hair down. That’s pretty much it. That’s all I need. Especially if I’m on a deserted island.”

What about skincare? How do you keep your complexion so clear and dewy despite filming for hours in layers and layers of makeup?
“I’m in love with Lush Cosmetics. I have really sensitive skin, so I like to use natural products. I use their Ultrabland beeswax cleanser, their Tea Tree Water Toner, and I really love their face masks—namely, the Catastrophe Cosmetic mask. Makeup will break out my skin really easily, so I use that at the end of every week of shooting. I also like their Brazened Honey mask. It’s so good. And Manuka honey, straight—that’s something that I used to use all the time. You put it on your face like a mask, leave it on for 20 minutes, and wipe it off with warm water. It used to clear my skin and make it glow. I haven’t bought some in a while, but for people who have sensitive skin and can’t take a lot of acids and things like that, it’s a very good choice.”

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from playing Prudence?
“She’s helped me grow as a woman. Her strength, her resilience, and her unapologetic nature has taught me how to stand up for myself and how to stand strong in my beliefs. She’s helped me become myself, be unapologetic in who I am, and not feel like I have to conform or compromise for anyone.”

If you were a witch in real life, what would your magic power be?
“I’ve thought about this question so deeply. Telekinesis and teleportation. I love to travel, so teleporting would allow me to go anywhere in half a second. Telekinesis would be great because I could fly and move elements around me. I could just sit back and watch my suitcase pack itself. I’ve been a magic fanatic since I was a kid—Harry Potter, the old Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed. I have a very big imagination.”

What are you looking forward to this year, in terms of both Prudence and yourself?
“I’m really looking forward to where they take Prudence. After season two, we see her and Ambrose [Spellman] take off on this bounty hunter-like trip to go find Father Blackwood [Richard Coyle]. I’m really curious to see where they take that. Do they find him? Do they kill him? Personally, I’m looking forward to being 23. It’s my ‚Jordan year.‘ I have some business and philanthropic endeavors I’d like to get rolling, but mainly, I’m just excited to grow into myself and grow into my womanhood more. Its going to be a really good year—I just feel it.”

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