Our favourite fairies returned to our screens today and we’re living for the WLW visibility
BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY EVAN DOHERTY, STYLING BY ELLA GASKELL
As a kid, the Winx Club cartoons were almost my entire personality. The magical world of fairies, witches and mythical creatures had me transfixed to the screen. And with three of the leads being women of colour, this onscreen representation was far ahead of its time. So when Brian Young’s 2021 live action reimagination, Fate: The Winx Saga, hit Netflix last year, it’s no surprise I devoured the entire season in one evening. The second season premiered today and it’s even bigger, better (and queerer) than before.
While at its core, Fate is still all about friendship, love and believing in yourself, it’s very different from the original cartoon. It’s much darker, though there’s still plenty of fun to be had along the way. And there’s a range of characters who were not in the cartoons – one of those being Terra, an earth fairy portrayed by Eliot Salt. I instantly fell in love with her character and had clenched fists anytime anyone messed with my new all-time fave.
Getting the chance to speak to Eliot via Zoom, I ask what it was like stepping back into the role of Terra. “It was lovely, it was lovelier this time around because I wasn’t starting from such an insecure, horrible, sad teen place,” Eliot tells me. “She starts off a lot more herself. It was nice to find her more confident than she was before.” Eliot’s eyes practically sparkle as she talks about her character, and I can tell how much she means to her.
In the first season, Terra made a passing reference about her cousin Flora – who’s one of the leading gals from the original cartoon, but we never got to meet her. So when it was announced that Paulina Chávez would be taking on the role this time around, we fans were eager to meet her. Though, I did worry that the introduction of Flora might mean Terra might be pushed to the side. Thankfully, my angst was soon put to ease when it was made clear that there is room for two badass earth fairies on this show – and if anything, they just make each other stronger. “Paulina is brilliant!” Elliot beamed as she reflected on working with her onscreen cousin. “She’s such a brilliant scene partner, she’s really present and so prepared and such a lovely warm calm presence to have around.”
At first, when the two cousins are reunited, the pair are overjoyed. But they noticeably begin to butt heads as the episodes progress. Surely this isn’t just because Flora is getting attention from resident bad boy Riven? In a tearful scene, the two make up. Terra confesses that she is jealous, but not of Riven, she’s jealous of Flora’s ability to embrace who she is and what she wants. Terra goes on to confide in her cousin, saying: “I think I pick shitty unattainable guys … because I’m not into guys.” Prompted by Flora, she goes on to speak the words out loud: “I’m gay.”
Eliot shares how much reading the script resonated with her as an out and proud member of the LGBTQIA community. “I was glad that it was given the space that it deserved, that’s what I was really hoping for her,” she smiles. “I was really honoured and proud to be able to do it because I so wished that this kind of coming out story was on TV when I was growing up. So, it felt like a big responsibility but also one I was so excited and happy to do.”
“I so wished that this kind of coming out story was on TV when I was growing up”
Terra has always been the most relatable character to me personally, and this was only solidified further during her second coming out scene. She gathers her suitemates, Stella (Hannah van der Westhuysen), Flora, Musa (Elisha Applebaum), Aisha (Precious Mustapha) and Bloom (Abigail Cowen) together to share her truth. She asserts that it’s “not a big deal”, and reassures them that she doesn’t need a celebration or a cake before telling it how it is: “I’m gay. There’s a part of me that’s always known that I was gay, and now I’m sharing that part of me with you. So kindly adjust your perceptions of me accordingly.” She then tries to metaphorically and literally brush this under the rug, as she asks her friends to help her move the carpet. But they’re not having it, she gets drawn into a big group hug as her friends delight in trying to find out the deets of her new crush.
The female solidarity and friendships in this show are *chef’s kiss*. But the rapport between Terra and Stella was one of the highlights for me this time around. They are opposites in many ways, but they clearly care a lot about each other – and I loved the humorous ways they show it to each other. Eliot is just as obsessed with their dynamic as I am. “Me and Hannah are always trying to milk every second of screen time that we have together and so I’m really glad that’s coming off.” She goes on to tease, “I have big hopes for them in the future but that’s as much as I’ll be able to say about that.”
While a third season is yet to be confirmed, that high stakes cliffhanger has me praying for a renewal announcement. What would Eliot like to explore in future seasons? “She gets to the beginning of a relationship in this [season]. I’d like to see more of that, all the excitement, firsts, trials and difficulties that will arise there,” she shares.
Eliot also points out that, “Alongside her coming out, her powers are shifting and adapting to being more mineral based.” This comes at a time where family-orientated Terra is forced to live more independently and depend on her dad and brother less. “She’s able to fulfil a role she probably didn’t feel there was space for her to have before. I find the metaphor within that really interesting. So, I definitely want to see more of her melting through walls and I think that was a really cool direction to have gone in.” I absolutely loved watching Terra stepping into her power in many different ways this season, and I’m joining Eliot in hoping that we also get to see her step through walls.
“I hope that as many of them as possible are able to see themselves in it”
Both the original Winx cartoon and reimagination have a huge LGBTQIA fanbase. What does Eliot hope queer fans take away from watching Terra’s journey? “I hope that as many of them as possible are able to see themselves in it. Even though I think Terra’s very lucky in that she has such a warm reception to coming out, hopefully that inspires some strength and comfort in people that are going through a similar thing even if they are not lucky enough to have that kind of community around them.”
Three more questions with Eliot Salt
I’ve noticed in your interviews you often have a lot of plants behind you. Are you as much of a plant parent as Terra is?
“I’m proud to say that the plants behind me in my interviews are all still alive, which I think is pretty impressive. But I think they’ve just become very hardy through mild neglect, I don’t water them that much, so they’ve really toughened up.”
If you had to swap powers with one of your co-stars, who would it be?
“Definitely not Elisha. I wouldn’t like to be a mind fairy. I just wouldn’t want to know everything, it’d be too stressful. I think I would like Beatrix’s electricity; it always looks the coolest.”
What was the most enjoyable scene to film?
“I love when I’ve got lots to do. Terra often has lots of concoctions that she’s making and different little bottles to fetch from the shelves and she’ll bandage someone up and check on someone else in the hospital section they built up. I love all of that stuff. I love being busy and it makes the world more real to me.”
Season two of Fate: The Winx Saga returns September 16 on Netflix.
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