Apple TV+’s Foundation is back with weekly Friday episodes, following our collection of characters scattered across planets in the Galactic Empire – with a whole host of fresh faces, too. One newbie is Ella-Rae Smith, who plays Queen Sareth, ‘a young woman who is thrust into a situation she has no control over,’ Ella-Rae tells C&TH. We sat down with Ella-Rae to chat all things Foundation – plus modelling and thrifting eclectic homeware.
This interview was conducted pre-strike.
Interview: Ella-Rae Smith On Foundation Season 2
Hi Ella-Rae, how’s life going at the moment?
Hey! Life is good, thanks. Enjoying the summer!
You’re about to star in season 2 of Foundation on Apple TV+ – can you give a quick introduction to the show for any readers unfamiliar with it?
Foundation is a sci-fi series based on the novels by Isaac Asimov. The scale of the show is epic, with various planets and spaceships and all sorts of magical technology. I’d recommend catching up with the first season before diving into the second to get an understanding of the lore of the show.
What can we expect from season 2?
A deeper exploration into relationships between existing characters and the introduction of a host of new faces. There are new worlds, more characters from the books coming to the screen, and totally original characters and storylines also.
What’s your character like?
Queen Sareth is a young woman who is thrust into a situation she has no control over. Instead of panicking, she plans, manipulating situations to her advantage. She’s quick, clever, fearless and has a strong sense of good and evil. I’m totally biased, but I really love her. I feel so lucky that I got to play her.
How did you get into character/prepare for the role?
When I don’t look like myself, I don’t feel like myself, so the daily transformation I’d make in hair and makeup made it really easy to step into character. My costumes were also a huge factor – I was wearing handmade silk gowns and heels everyday (which were also actually very helpful in helping me to maintain a queenly stance).
What is the cast dynamic? Who was your favourite person to work with?
There’s no way I can pick a favourite! When you’re all working away from home, you tend to form a family out of your cast and crew mates. We also started working on season two after various lockdowns, so I think we were just super excited to be able to spend time with each other in person. I have so many fond memories of my time working on the show, from dolphin watching and swimming in the sea together to the huge group meals we’d hold and accidentally take over restaurants. We truly had the best time.
Any stand out moments from rehearsals or filming?
There were a couple of big days where we had a lot of supporting artists, which was always fun because a selection of them would be from my planet; all dressed in matching costumes that somewhat mirrored mine. I have some great photos of all the Cloud Dominion girls together.
Are you still in touch with any of your co-stars?
Absolutely! I made friends for life on Foundation.
You’ve also starred in the likes of Into the Badlands and The Stranger. What has been your favourite project to date?
I met one of my best friends whilst filming Marley Morrison’s debut feature film Sweetheart. We were living on the Jurassic Coast, so I spent my days off walking along the cliffs and paddling in the sea. I’m immensely proud of that film and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Any roles in the pipeline that you’re excited about? (If you’re allowed to tell us!)
I’m afraid my lips have to remain sealed right now…
Who has been your favourite actor to work with in the past?
I’ve been really lucky to work alongside a lot of fantastic young women in the industry: Jessica Alexander, Emma Appleton, Sophia Brown, Djouliet Amara, Nell Barlow, Mirren Mack, Ellis George, Hannah Dodd… To work and become friends with my peers is the biggest joy.
Which co-star did you learn the most from?
All of the most famous actors I’ve worked with have been really lovely people. I think the main lesson to be learnt from that is to always have good on-set etiquette, to be respectful, kind and generous to those you’re working with. Essentially, being a nice person goes a long way.
What’s your dream role?
I genuinely have no idea… I feel like whatever it is, it will find me.
What’s a genre you’d like to do more of?
My secret dream is to work on a musical. I’m not a trained singer and I haven’t properly danced in at least ten years… But I think I have enough enthusiasm to make it work!
You also model – what drew you to modelling?
If I’m honest, I think it began as more of an expectation than an outright desire to become a model. From when I was a child, it was something that people often suggested I pursue and, as I got older, I felt like if the opportunity was there I should explore it. I always wanted to be an actor, but I knew modelling would be a good way to gain confidence, travel and earn money.
What has been your favourite campaign to work on?
I did a Rimmel campaign a few years ago and got to say the iconic ‘Live the London look’ line, which was very cool.
Do you get to spend much time at home?
It really depends! Sometimes I’ll have months at home, sometimes I’m zipping all around the world. Most of this year has seen me at home though, which has been really nice – I’ve been repainting walls and changing up the layout of my house.
Do you live in the town or the country? Which do you prefer?
I live in the town but have a huge love for the country. I grew up going on countryside walks every weekend and holidaying in west Wales and Cornwall, so I do also enjoy being in the middle of nowhere. I’d say I’m a city girl at heart, but every few weeks I need to go and see a clear sky with no buildings on the horizon.
What’s your interior design style?
Playful and eclectic, lots of prints on the walls, and books everywhere. I’m obsessed with thrifting furniture and homewares, so I have a lot of fun things… A vintage bar cart, some rugs I flew back with from Marrakech and my newest favourite random item: a little porcelain Pierrot figurine which sits on my bookshelf. A few years ago, I had a sofa reupholstered in William Morris’s ‘The Brook’ – that’s probably my favourite piece.
What’s your relationship with social media like?
It’s always been work based for me, so I feel a huge separation between my social media presence and my actual self. But, to be honest, if it ever begins to stress me out, I remind myself that they’re just apps and I can delete that stress from my life in less than a second.
How do you find balance in your personal and work lives?
I’m not too sure I’ve found balance – or that I ever will! Being an actor feels more like a lifestyle than a job to me. My tendency to form friendships with people in the industry blends my personal and work lives in the best way.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I discovered and fell in love with acting when I was ten or 11, so it’s always felt like that. Before then, I think I was mainly focused on creating imaginary dramas between my dolls.
If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?
All the things that matter so much now will one day be completely insignificant.
How can we all live a little bit better?
By getting off our phones and interacting in the real world.
Anything fun in the pipeline – professionally or personally?
I’ve been having so much fun narrating a series of audiobooks this year: Magnolia Parks by Jessa Hastings. Sitting in a recording booth and reading aloud all day is a dream job for me… Plus the books are the kind I would have been obsessed with as a teenager.
I’m tuning into… Literally nothing right now! The last show I was keeping up with was the second season of Yellowjackets.
What I’m reading… Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones
The last thing I watched was… Asteroid City
What I’m most looking forward to seeing… Barbie. I can’t wait.
Favourite film of all time… Singin’ In The Rain
Singer I always have on repeat… Lana Del Rey
My ultimate cultural recommendation… Columbia Road Flower Market
Cultural guilty pleasure… Reality TV
What’s next for me is… A summer of fun!
Ella-Rae Smith stars in season 2 of Foundation. New episodes arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday. Catch up at tv.apple.com