When Tati Gabrielle comes onscreen, playing the wicked and fascinating Prudence Blackwood on Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, you can’t take your eyes off of her. But despite how captivating she is to us now, Gabrielle admits that her road to fully embodying her essence has been a long and winding road.
“Growing up I was a very weird kid,” she tells ESSENCE. “I dressed funny. I said funny things. I was very goofy and kind of felt like, not necessarily an outcast, but I always felt different.”
It’s why Gabrielle can relate to another character she’s embodying, Willow, on The Disney Channel’s animated series, The Owl House. In the fantasy series, the actress is portraying yet another witch.
“I really drew a lot,” she says of her character, who’s a kind and bubbly witch trying to figure out exactly what she’s good at. “She gets teased; they call her half a witch.”
I would be doing a disservice, not for myself, but for the world if I didn’t be unapologetically myself.
“It took me a lot of time growing up to be able to feel confident in myself and feel like who I am was OK,” Gabrielle continues.
The starlet adds that finding her confidence helped her learn that “everybody’s imperfect and there’s nobody else like me. I would be doing a disservice, not for myself, but for the world if I didn’t be unapologetically myself. I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my purpose in that way.”
“I learned that by making yourself small, you make other people feel OK about that or feel bigger. Being yourself can allow others to appreciate themselves more. It acts as a pay it forward effect on people. You do you and other people will feel that love, feel that freedom and know that within themselves,” Gabrielle concludes.
Gabrielle says it’s not a coincidence that both of her roles in The Owl House and in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, where she plays Prudence, a wicked character with a complex story, are portrayals of witches.
“I’m a big fantasy fan and when I was little, my brother and I, we were big Harry Potter and Charmed fans and I loved everything witch; all things magic,” Gabrielle tells ESSENCE, when describing what it is she loves about playing witches. “I’ve always had a really vivid imagination. I used to dream that, ‘Maybe I’m a witch, maybe one day a card will come, just wait for it.'”
The actress goes on to admit that if she could have one magical power, it would be the ability to help people understand each other.
“I feel like…we have a huge understanding problem,” she explains. “When it comes to your race or gender or whatever, there’s miscommunication. And if I can cast a spell where if you meet with somebody, you can see their whole story and their whole life in a flash, [and] immediately you understand and you can treat them with compassion and love.”
Gabrielle’s debut in The Owl House comes the same day, Friday, as the season three premiere of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. In the latter series, Prudence proudly sports finger waves, which she revealed to ESSENCE last year that she does herself onset.
The actress calls her bold beauty and style an opportunity to give people a sense of who she is.
“It’s freedom of expression,” she tells ESSENCE. “I dress…the way that I want to feel even if I’m not feeling it. And the fashion and styling, it’s the first impression that people get from me.”
“When I go out and people see me, it’s like they’re able to get sort of a sense of me,” Gabrielle adds.