Kiernan Shipka has put a spell on Netflix. A good one, that is.
The 19-year-old actress is currently the star of Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but you may also remember her as Sally Draper on Mad Men. Shipka is on the cover of Seventeen‘s December issue, where she opened up about dating, girl power and why the character of Sabrina Spellman truly resonates with her.
For starters, Shipka thinks it’s “really cool” that her friends are “genuinely excited to watch the show.” After all, Sabrina skews more to the age range of her peers rather than Mad Men.
However, there’s another big reason why she feels so honored to play the role of the 16-year-old witch. “I’m unreasonably excited that young girls are going to get to have this character be an inspiration to them,” she told Seventeen. “I think she is so strong-willed, has such a good heart, speaks her mind, stands up for herself, and questions things that she feels aren’t right.”
Similar to the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Shipka’s Sabrina Spellman marches to the beat of her own witchy drum. Magic aside, the Feud star relates to Sabrina on a deeply personal level. “I gravitate toward feminist content because that’s just who I am. But there was something so cool about this show being so feminist while still having this very separate fantastical element,” she explained.
The vague time period also adds to that “fantastical element” she discussed. “It’s sort of set in this ‘timeless’ period where there aren’t many references to pop culture, or what’s happening now or what happened in the past. But at the same [time], it’s related to what’s happening in many different ways and resonates on so many levels,” she said.
Sabrina‘s creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa recently gave E! News some background information as to why the setting is so vague. “We originally were going to set it in the 60s which is when Sabrina first came out in the comic books, and we liked the issues that were going on in the 60s that we felt like we could explore—feminism, civil rights, Charles Manson, Woodstock, first man on the moon,” he told E! News.
Netflix, however, had some other ideas. Apparently executives told Aguirre-Sacasa, “Women’s empowerment, women’s sexuality, women controlling their own bodies, all that stuff is happening now. You’re doing that now. We’re having these wars, all these rights are in question today, you don’t need to set it in the ’60s.”
Shipka also discussed why Sabrina is unlike many other television characters. She told Seventeen, “Sabrina is, for all intents and purposes, a teenage girl as much as she’s a witch who’s faced with decisions no teenager could ever deal with. She puts herself in situations that are very risky—on the life-threatening side of risky—but to have a character who is so strong-willed has really inspired me.”
Like any teenager (witch or mortal) knows, getting older is hard. “Growing up is definitely complicated,” she said. “Everyone has their own journey. I’m at a place where I feel more myself than I ever have, and I’m loving that, and I’m excited that Sabrina came my way.”
Although her on-screen relationship with Harvey Kinkle (played by Ross Lynch) is great, dating does not take any priority for Shipka at the moment. “Ross is the best, and I couldn’t imagine having a better person to be ‘shipped with,” she explained. “I think our relationship [on Sabrina] is so pure and so sweet.”
Shipka’s cover of Seventeen hits newsstands Nov. 27.