When Jaz Sinclair came across a breakdown for the character of Rosalind Walker on a pilot called Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, it was an easy “hell yes.” After all, it’s not every day that you come across a character who’s an outspoken teen feminist and a supernatural bridge to the other side.
MTV News chatted with the 24-year-old actor about the bold feminism of Sabrina, harnessing anger into power, and how a childhood fascination with witches — particularly the brightest witch of her age — cosmically led her to Greendale.
MTV News: Where were you when you first heard about the role?
Jaz Sinclair: I was in Los Angeles. I went to Columbia at the end of last year, and then I came back to LA for a very short period of time before going to Vietnam with my best friend. I was in town for a week and just got this audition. I read the breakdown for the role, and the scene and was like, “This is a really fun character. I’ll totally go in for it.” It happened in two days. I went in, and then the next day I went in again and tested, and then the next morning at 8 a.m. I found out I got the role. So it was a really quick process for this one.
MTV News: Were you awake when you got the call?
Sinclair: No, I wasn’t [up]. Netflix called my manager and was like, “She’s been approved!”
MTV News: I’m sure you see a lot of scripts for a lot of young characters, but what was it about Roz that made you want to pursue this character?
Sinclair: One of the audition scenes that I had was the scene where I’m talking about wanting to start a Daughters of the Black Panther club at school. I just loved the feminist aspects of her and how passionate she is as a 17-year-old girl — to really know who she is and what she stands for. To play a character who is so unapologetically herself is a really cool opportunity. I’m also into all things witches. So I get to be a feminist and be on a show about magic? I’m going to definitely audition for that.
MTV News: Who is your favorite fictional witch?
Sinclair: Hermione Granger, of course! I’m a big Harry Potter fan. I watch them regularly. I listen to the audio books on tape and go on walks for hours. I love it so much.
MTV News: So it started as a childhood fascination with witches?
Sinclair: It must have because I started watching Harry Potter when I was young. I grew up with those movies. As the characters got older, I got older too. Something about that magical world is woven into the fabric of who I am. Also, we as people are powerful, magical people. Call yourself a witch or not, but there’s so much that we can tap into within our own personal power.
MTV News: It’s all about the energy that we put out into the universe.
Sinclair: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the energy that I’ve put out and watching it be reflected back to me almost immediately. The way you feel really does inform the way that the world is around you. For me, finding excitement and empowerment in that has made me a lot more present.
MTV News: I’m a huge fan of the comics, written by [creator] Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. He’s got an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Archie Comics and horror, and you see a lot of references to that in the show. Did he give you guys a syllabus of horror movies to watch before you started filming?
Sinclair: When we first got out to Vancouver, we had a cast screening where we watched clips from horror movies that Sabrina took inspiration from. I’m a big ol’ baby, so I don’t really watch a lot of horror, but it was really informative to watch those scenes. Actually, working on this project made me want to watch those movies that I was too scared to watch before.
MTV News: Did you have any nightmares?
Sinclair: Maybe it was because of the material, but I had more nightmares in Vancouver than I’ve ever had. Some of them were about the occult, and some of them were more subtle. Those things sneak into your subconscious.
MTV News: One of the things I love about the show is that it’s so unabashedly feminist. That was obviously something that spoke to you as well.
Sinclair: It’s so long overdue for a show to be so boldly feminist. The idea of being a feminist is now accepted, and for our show to take liberties in that realm is exciting. It’s important. The things that we talk about are important, and the timeless aspect of our show really speaks to it as well. It doesn’t matter when it takes place, all women can relate to these specific issues. I would have loved to have grown up with a show that taught me a little bit more about feminism.
MTV News: Not only do Susie, Roz, and Sabrina talk about feminism and form WICCA [Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association] as a result, but the show also gives us a perfect example of a male ally in Harvey.
Sinclair: He never shuts them down. I feel like when you talk about feminist issues with men, they kind of take things personally. Like, “Not all men” or “I wouldn’t do that.” I hear you and that’s awesome, but you need to hear me too because this isn’t about you. Harvey is a good example of just listening in regards to a topic that he can’t really relate to. It’s about understanding as men, as feminist men, that there are things you just need to listen to.
MTV News: The show also channels female rage in really overt ways.
Sinclair: Anger is powerful, and as women, we’re taught not to be angry [and] to bite our tongues. And when we do that, the energy manifests in other ways. A lot of the time it’s self-destructive. Anger transforms, and using your anger in a powerful way is a beautiful thing. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with anger.
MTV News: How excited were you when you found out that Roz gets magical abilities of her own?
Sinclair: Dude. I was so excited. I found out because my manager sent me the breakdown of the character who was going to be my grandma, who is psychic. As soon as I saw that, I was like, “Fuck yes!” I also really like the way that they decided to do it because whenever I have a vision, I get to go back to the scene, so for me as an actor, it lets me bridge the two worlds in a nice way.
MTV News: How would you define Sabrina and Roz’s friendship?
Sinclair: When you see them together, it just feels like there’s history. There’s an understanding and a mutual respect between them that’s really lovely. They’ve been friends for a while, and I really love that they can lean on each other. And Roz is supportive of Sabrina’s identity as a witch because of course she would be.
MTV News: Sabrina has been compared a lot to Riverdale because of its tone and the fact that they’re both are set within the world of Archie Comics. Riverdale really blew up after its first season, and that cast can barely go anywhere without being recognized. Is that something you think about? How to adjust to that level of fame?
Sinclair: For me, the idea of fame has always made me really uncomfortable. So I don’t honestly spend too much time thinking about it because my thinking turns into worrying real quick. Instead, I’m of the mind that I’m going to take it one day at a time and I’m just going to be really present. I can’t know what’s going to happen until it happens. So if this show is going to take off in really big ways like some people think, I’ll navigate that as gracefully as I can.