Performer of The Month - Readers' Choice Most Outstanding Performer of April - Amalia Holm By Aimee Hicks (May 31, 2020, 7:06 pm)
Motherland: Fort Salem
This article was written by Aimee Hicks, Donna Cromeans, Ellys Cartin, and Jamie Coudeville. The article was edited by Donna Cromeans (DJRiter). The open and close to the article written by Aimee Hicks. Prepared for publishing by Aimee Hicks.
Scylla Ramshorn is a character that made a splash as soon as she made her flirty appearance on the screen in Freeform's Motherland: Fort Salem. She dazzled and intrigued the audience from that first moment and captivated viewers almost as all-encompassing as she captured Raelle's (Taylor Hickson) heart. There was an edge to her, but also a raw vulnerability that immediately showed all her rich and complex layers. She is such a pivotal character to the series that if she had been cast wrong it could have been detrimental to the series as a whole. Enter Amalia Holm who the show very brilliantly cast in the role. She was a relative unknown to the North American market, but she took ownership of the part and the brilliant writing she was handed and brought to life this powerful and troubled young witch. It is through Holm's broad range and ability to portray raw honesty in her performance that made viewers lock in on her right away. She was one to watch and everyone knew it right away. Throughout the season she never once disappointed or delivered anything other than a flawless performance. Despite a season full of memorable performances, it is the work she did in Mother Mycelium (1x7) that she will likely be most remembered for. It is that powerhouse performance she delivered throughout this episode that earned her this title. Her performance was haunting and soul-touching. A scream is likely to never be as remembered as the one Holm delivered through Scylla as the love of Scylla's life was dragged away from her. The performance she delivered in this episode will not be easily forgotten and witnessing a performance that just can’t be forgotten is a sign that a performer just did something truly magical.
Continue reading below to find out our thoughts regarding her performance. After reading, please leave your thoughts in the comments.
Throughout the season, Amalia Holm has been delivering strong memorable performances. What about her performance in this episode stands out as the most memorable for you? What other performances from this season have really left an impact on you?
Aimee: Her performance in this episode showed two very different sides to Scylla and I think that is what I loved the most about her performance. We got to see the stubborn and defiant Scylla who was resisting everything they were throwing at her. Then we got to see the lovesick Scylla who, the moment she was with Raelle again, couldn't help but be open and vulnerable. Raelle is Scylla's weakness and it was beautiful how raw Holm played those scenes with Hickson. That was the hallmark of her performance throughout the season. She has an impressive emotional range and when she goes deep her performance can touch your soul. Like her emotional scream when she had Scylla crying out for Raelle, that was as raw as a performance can get and she put so much honesty into it that it can't help but connect with the audience. All season long she has nailed all the emotional tones required of her. Another memorable moment for me was the wedding in Bellweather Season (1x5), where Scylla chose Raelle over the Spree. During their slow dance, they played memories that Scylla had of her time with Raelle over the actual dance. Usually, that's a gimmick that can fall flat, but in this instance, it worked beautifully. Holm has great control over her facial expressions and the ability to convey emotions through her eyes. I think it's her ability to emote so honestly that really has allowed Scylla to make such an impact. Holm's performances throughout the season made Scylla a character you can't help but root for despite the things she has done. She is playing a character that should, on paper, be so easy to hate, but Holm makes it nearly impossible to not want the world for Scylla.
Donna: The biggest difference in Holm's performance in this episode is her approach to the character and the situation she has found herself in. For the first time all season, Scylla has absolutely no control of herself or her surroundings. She's a captive of the Army and at their mercy during their questioning and interrogation. Holm is masterful in masking Scylla's bravado when she is so remarkably close to panic. She never lets the fear show, hoping beyond hope she can regain control. She conveys two types of fear in one episode, the first when Alder (Lyne Renee) comes in to interrogate her, and the second when Raelle is brought in she shows us the fear of losing perhaps the one good thing left in her life. Her work showing Scylla's growing conflict and confusion as to whether or not to turn Raelle over to the Spree in Bellweather Season was also impressive.
Ellys: Another of my favorite performances from Holm came in Bellweather Season. In that episode, there is a scene that lasts just a few seconds where Scylla makes a decision that radically alters her fate. Holm leaves us with no doubt that Scylla has weighed all the consequences in just a couple heartbeats and made the ultimate choice. In her eyes, we see every ounce of that recognition and sacrifice before she turns her head slightly to nestle it against Raelle's on the dance floor. The briefest of moments, but Holm moves emotional mountains with what she does there.
Jamie: Well, in this episode Holm got to drop all the pretense. Scylla's secret is out, she no longer must pretend to be someone she's not. For the entire episode, Holm portrays her with a mix of fear and defiance. The two emotions almost seem to be tangled together. Of course, the scene with Raelle is the one that stands out the most. I also really enjoyed her performance in Bellweather Season where Holm portrayed Scylla's struggle with serving the Spree and her feelings for Raelle.
Holm shares most of her scenes with Taylor Hickson. What do you enjoy the most about their partnership in bringing the love story of Scylla and Raelle to life? Who else on the cast would you like to see Holm have more scenes with? What about that dynamic intrigues you the most?
Aimee: The casting directors could not have cast this show any better than they did. Holm has profound chemistry with Hickson and the bond they took time to develop off-screen has allowed them to bring a lot to their characters on screen. I love how open and giving each of them is to the other in the emotional scenes they often share. In every scene they share you can feel that they are there for each other and that's just simply not the case with so many acting partnerships. By them being there for each other they are each free to give so much life and heart to their characters with the knowledge the other has their back. At least that's the way I read their scenes. Holm was brilliant with every person she shared the screen with this season. She shared most of her scenes with Hickson and Demetria McKinney (Anacostia Quartermain) and she was phenomenal with both. I'd really like to see Holm share more scenes with Ashley Nicole Williams (Abigail Bellweather). I just feel like Holm and Williams would have so much fun portraying the head-bashing that would occur between Scylla and Abigail that it'd be absurdly fun to watch. I also think that we got majorly deprived regarding Holm sharing scenes with Jessica Sutton (Tally Craven). I have a feeling from the few moments we got between the two of them that Holm would be able to deliver some great work opposite of Sutton. So much potential for combinations with which the writers can pair Holm with in Season Two and beyond. Given her ability to immediately adapt to whomever she is in a scene with makes her one of those rare performers for whom writers must adore writing. She brings so much to the proverbial table.
Donna: What makes the Raelle/Scylla story and relationship work so well is the remarkable chemistry between the two young actresses. If they did not share that chemistry, then the entire story falls flat. Thankfully, the producers struck gold with Holm and Hickson. I would like to see more of the growing relationship between Scylla and Anacostia. Holm and McKinney have developed a genuinely nice rhythm to their scenes. Bizarrely I think Anacostia sees a kindred spirit of sorts in Scylla connecting on the fact they were both orphans and sought a home somewhere. It's an interesting contrast that Anacostia found the Army and Scylla found the Spree. Anacostia sees something in Scylla making her believe she can be saved, and she wants to be the one to save her. I think, because of actions in the season finale they've set a plan in motion to redeem Scylla and outsmart the Spree, but I feel they both may be surprised by the outcome.
Ellys: Raelle is a Healer, restorer of life, and Scylla's powers and actions are that of a Necromancer, a student and conveyer of death. Despite these traits, Motherland chooses to give each young woman the personality that would be expected in the other. Raelle is cynical, haunted, and often resigned to endure the fate to which others assign her. Scylla, in contrast, embraces life; she is drawn to accessories, flowers, sexuality, danger…everything that Raelle initially is not. These aspects of their identities result in them complementing each other, each of them seeming like a more well-rounded character when the other is around. By the laws of storybook love, they should be soulmates. And what makes their eventual parting horribly heartbreaking is that both Raelle and Scylla know that. No other pairing on the show, romantic or otherwise, comes close to the energy that Hickson and Holm's pairing has.
Jamie: For starters, they have great chemistry. That's one of the most important things when it comes to portraying a relationship. I would love to see Scylla interact more with Abigail and Tally. Considering the circumstances in the storyline, that probably won't happen anytime soon, but I think those could be remarkably interesting interactions, especially now that Scylla's been revealed as Spree.
The audience got to witness Holm deliver a heartbreaking performance when Scylla and Raelle were finally reunited. Dissect that scene from Scylla's perspective in regards to how Holm portrayed her conflicted character. What parts stood out to you the most? What about Holm's performance during the reunion most captivated you?
Aimee: The reunion scene, well, that scene was a moment that will stick with me for an awfully long time. While Hickson was brilliant and delivered her own noteworthy performance in that moment, it was all eyes on Holm. She was confined to a chair with her hands bound and yet she still managed to command that scene. Her voice started off steady, but with a tiny quiver that you could tell that Scylla was trying hard to control. Then there was the moment that Raelle cautiously touched Scylla to confirm that her love was indeed still alive. At that moment when Hickson as Raelle touched Holm, you could see all of Scylla's carefully crafted walls crumble away. Scylla desperately tried to reach out and touch Raelle, but with her hands confined she could only do so much. You could see Holm fighting against her restraints as she showed Scylla's struggle to reach Raelle. When their foreheads touched there so much sadness and love in Holm's eyes as Scylla was desperate to say so much to Raelle in so little time. Every single aspect of the way Holm portrayed Scylla in this scene captivated me, but the scream at the end, that was haunting. The whole scene touched my heart, but that scream made sure it found my soul too. Just powerful work from Holm all around.
Donna: This scene was as raw and honest a piece of acting any director could ask from a seasoned performer, much less young actresses like these. Again, this goes back to their incredible chemistry, this scene would not have been nearly as effective had it been between other actors. These two put everything on the table. Hickson showed us every ounce of Raelle's pain at being betrayed combined with her profound relief at seeing that Scylla was still alive. Holm channeled Scylla's deepest fears and remorse at seeing Raelle again and because she was bound to a chair tried to reach out and convey her love with her eyes and her words since she couldn't touch her love. Her guttural cry as Raelle is pulled away was as real and raw as it comes, and the tears streaming down her face were genuine.
Ellys: In the scene where Scylla briefly reunites with Raelle, I believe this is the only time that we see Scylla truly drop every defense. She is never more exposed than she is in those few cruel moments. Her agenda is forgotten; her sole aim, her sole need, is to not let Raelle leave without giving her a kernel of hope that their relationship wasn't wholly fraudulent. Holm underlines those first words, "It's really me," with urgent double meaning. Her mission has been one of lies, but here and only here, we see the only thing that matters to Scylla is communicating the truth. Holm packs this scene with small gestures that reveal Scylla's devastation: the way she lightly grabs Raelle's elbows, tries to clutch her love's hands, and heartbreakingly pulls her face away from Raelle in an attempt to get the other distraught woman to focus on her words.
Jamie: Holm is completely different in the scene with Raelle. Rather than defiant and scared, she's simply scared, but not for herself. Every part of Holm is reaching out for Raelle, but she's just out of reach. And when Raelle is dragged away it's like all the fight is drained out of her in that scream. That's the moment that still gives me chills.
Scylla is in a very precarious position under the custody of Anacostia and Alder. That has given Holm a lot of dynamic scenes to play, both in this particular episode and since. What do you expect to see from Holm in coming episodes and into Season 2?
Aimee: By the time this comes out the whole season will have played out, so we already know what spectacular scenes have aired since this particular episode. So, instead, I'm going to talk about what I want to see from her in Season Two. I want to see Holm get to work with other performers as I noted in an earlier question. I hope we get to see her showcase Scylla trying to repair her relationship with Raelle. I also hope that we get to see a lot more of Holm and McKinney working together. I expect that she is going to blow us all away in Season 2 just like she did in Season 1. To whoever cast her as Scylla, I hope you realize just how good you are at your job because nobody could play Scylla Ramshorn better than Amalia Holm.
Donna: By now we know what Scylla's fate is in Season 1 and things have been initiated for Season 2. Although she is physically free, she may not be as free as she thinks she is especially after discovering that the person who sent her to bring Raelle to the Spree was none other than Raelle's supposedly dead mother! Will she be forced to keep another secret from someone she cares about so much? I honestly believe that she and Anacostia worked together on some plan for her to help the Army infiltrate the Spree in exchange for her freedom. Although, a great side twist would be for her to learn that Anacostia has been a Spree agent all along who was to monitor her. Regardless, Scylla will feel that now that she is free, she may have a chance to reunite with Raelle and she will not easily do anything to ruin that for herself.
Ellys: Holm snaps like a firecracker opposite authority figures, without any sign of intimidation or even deference. This translates well into Scylla's mindset, as Scylla is a character who thrives off being able to disrupt the natural order. Holm is an artist with a natural gift for imbuing her performances with clever defiance. This quality results in Scylla often seeming like the sharpest person in the room, which she very well may be. Scylla also has an affinity for creative spectacle; I think we will see Holm acting opposite a variety of new characters at first in Season 2, and it will be interesting to see if the show finds or unleashes a performer who can believably withstand Scylla's intensity.
Jamie: Now that Holm's character has been revealed as part of the villain organization, I expect to see some sort of redemption arc. One that centers on her love for Raelle. She'll do whatever it takes to win Raelle's trust back. I think Anacostia will play a role in that. She's been intrigued by Scylla from the start, but Alder will always be the enemy to Scylla.
The writers have written some powerful material for Holm and her co-stars to bring to life. The performers in partnership with the writers have crafted a show that garnered rapid fan support and gave life to a rapidly growing fandom. All the performers have grown their individual fan groups exponentially, but even when mixed in with such a talented group of performers Holm still stands out. What is it about the way she portrays Scylla that makes her character so popular?
Aimee: I touched on this briefly, but I want to go into it a bit deeper here. Holm is a very honest actress and appears to be very giving of herself with her scene partners. There are different types of performers, those who are out to make a buck and those who give everything to their craft and who put forth their heart and soul into their characters. It is the latter who most often garner the most dedicated and loyal fans because that dedication and desire to do right by their character allows the audience to sink deep into the storyline of the character. Those performers make you invest in the character and that's the exact type of performer that Holm appears to be. Honest and raw performers will always develop the strongest following of fans. The way a performer can navigate social media will also play a big part in fan engagement. Holm seems to have a healthy grasp on social media and can craftily use it to keep her audience engaged in her character. These are all qualities, honestly, shared by the entire cast of this show, but Holm, in particular, has really worked out the fine science of blending real-life engagement with what she is delivering on the screen. These elements combined have allowed her to quickly build a rather large and strong dedication of fans. For a performer that is still in the fledgling stages of her career growth all of this means that she needs to buckle up because once the industry starts opening back up, she's likely to be quite busy.
Donna: Everyone loves rooting for an underdog and I think from day one we've been shown that Scylla has been given a raw deal in life. She's intrigued us through her struggle to belong and please those she respects but didn't expect to meet Raelle and fall so deeply in love as she has. Holm is a talented young actress with great range in showing us courage, defiance, love, and humor, all qualities one does not normally associate with a show's earmarked villain of sorts. The fact that she has made fans feel so deeply for Scylla's redemption is a credit to the work Holm has brought into making the character both loved and hated at the same time.
Ellys: Audiences often embrace the bad girls and boys because they have more swagger than the less devious characters. They have an effortless ease that often comes from misguided confidence or a shield they have raised to conceal their vulnerabilities. We know when we meet a character like this that what we are seeing is only their surface personality. Villains just tend to be the most complex characters; with a world of directions their stories can go. It's rather incredible that we can quickly obsess over Scylla, as our first introduction to her is committing an unfathomably evil act. Scylla is seducing us as readily as she is doing the same to Raelle. We can't be sure if we trust her, but we want to. Holm makes it easy for us to be enthralled by Scylla. In every moment, even the ones where Scylla is at a disadvantage, Holm's face always has a whisper of a smile as if her face might light up with gleeful or fiendish laughter at any moment. She is a flame, forever flickering, forever playing the game as if she has the advantage, whether she does or not.
Jamie: It's always the characters in that grey area, not exactly a good guy but also not exactly a bad guy, that gets the biggest fandom. I think it's especially in the way that Holm portrays that conflict between good and bad that makes her so popular. Being part of a popular couple of course helps. I think it's that conflict that really cements it for her.
What are your final thoughts on her winning this recognition?
Aimee: I was over the moon excited when I saw that she had secured the nomination to join the others in the poll. It is hard for performers in the first season shows to break through the ranks of established performers with well-established fan bases to secure a win, so I honestly didn't expect her to win. It is a testament to the truly memorable performance she delivered and the dedicated fan base she rapidly grew that she was able to secure this much-deserved win. She was even up against some of her equally gifted castmates for this title and still managed to bring home the win. I couldn't be happier that she won. She truly deserves all the recognition for this performance, and I hope to see her garner recognition from formal industry awards in the future. There isn't much more that I can say that I haven't already spoken about, other than to say that I hope she is proud of the performances she delivered this season and understands how much her dedication to her craft has made her character matter to viewers.
Donna: When I am deciding on which performer to give my top Performer of the Month vote to, I look at that one moment in the nominated episode that grabs me. For Holm, hands down, that moment in Mother Mycelium is Scylla's heartbreaking reunion with Raelle while in captivity. The depths both actresses reached in showing us the emotion, fear, betrayal, and pain of each character was phenomenal yet Holm's gut-wrenching cry as Hickson's character was pulled from the room showed us the utter depth and despair of her character. That moment alone is worthy of this honor.
Ellys: We've discussed how fantastic Holm is as Scylla, but behind-the-scenes she is just as electric. The reason Scylla comes across as lethally smart, suave, and charismatic as she does is that Holm possesses all those qualities herself. Every enthusiastic, thoughtful interview she shares her perspective on Scylla in stands as proof. Watching Holm continue to shape this unique character is going to be a thrill.
Jamie: This win is totally deserved. While my initial focus when starting the show went to Raelle, Tally, and Abigail, Scylla scenes quickly drew my attention. And while I wasn't sure how I felt about the character before this episode, after Holm's performance in this episode I quickly switched to Scylla's side. I expect that this will not be the last time she wins Performer of the Month.
Amalia Holm delivered a performance that was haunting and left a lasting impression, which is what led her to become the first Performer of the Month winner from her cast. It is performances like hers that need to be seen more often on television. Viewers aren't dumb and can see when a performer really cares. It is clear through the final product that Holm really cares about what she is doing and was granted a natural gift for acting that she has worked hard to hone over these early years of what promises to be a very long career. This is only the beginning for Holm, and she is sure to keep intriguing, inspiring, and impressing audiences for a long time to come. All these reasons, and so many that didn't make it into the article, are why Amalia Holm is SpoilerTV's Readers' Choice Performer of April.
Please use the comments to discuss all your favorite parts of Amalia Holm's performance in Mother Mycelium.