Who Is Kiernan Shipka? The Actress Playing Sabrina Spellman In Netflix's New Series Has Been Announced
It's no secret that we all miss the '90s. If you were a kid back then, you definitely remember Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and you're probably stoked for the upcoming Riverdale spinoff featuring Sabrina Spellman herself. Now, we can finally put a face to a name: The title character of the upcoming Netflix show (which is currently untitled) will be played by 18-year-old Kiernan Shipka. So just who is Kiernan Shipka? She's about to make all of our Sabrina nostalgia a reality — with a bit of a twist.
Netflix announced the casting in a press release on Friday, Jan. 5. According to the press release, Shipka will star in the network's upcoming original series, currently known as the Untitled Sabrina Project. The series is based on the Archie Comics graphic novel, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. From the title alone, it's pretty clear that this won't be a simple reboot of the '90s classic we know and love — although we wouldn't mind that, either! Instead, the series will have a more sinister twist, and will focus on Sabrina's dark education as a sorceress.
It sounds similar to the CW's take on Riverdale, which is much darker than the original Archie comics and is actually based on the spinoff, Life With Archie. This totally makes sense, considering the fact that Sabrina first made her debut in the Archie comics in 1962.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, executive producer of the upcoming series, expressed great admiration for Shipka. “We’re all such huge fans of Kiernan’s work that when we started talking about who this new incarnation of Sabrina could be, her name was on everyone’s wish list."
Another executive producer, and Archie Comics CEO, Jon Goldwater, agreed. “I am thrilled that Kiernan is playing Sabrina and have no doubt that she will embody the strength, courage, and boldness that has made the character a fan favorite.”
Shipka's most recent work includes Feud: Bette and Joan, in which she starred as Bette Davis' daughter, alongside Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. Prior to that, she played Sally Draper, the eldest child of Don and Betty Draper, in the acclaimed AMC series Mad Men, which premiered when Shipka was just seven years old. As a Mad Men fan myself, I'm definitely excited to see Shipka in a fully-developed, starring role.
So if it's not going to be like Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, what exactly will the Untitled Sabrina Project look like? According to Comic Vine, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina focuses on Sabrina's decision: to stay a witch, or to become mortal forever. But unlike the light-hearted trials and tribulations of being a teenage witch that Sabrina faces in the sitcom, the comics include the Spellman family's great enemy, Madame Satan, who is seeking revenge on them. Aguirre-Sacasa confirmed that the new series "is a darker, more macabre version of Sabrina.”
According to Variety, the series was originally set to air on the CW, just like Riverdale, but moved to Netflix in December. Fans of the comics and Riverdale have compared details of the upcoming series to another evil-fighting heroine: Buffy Summers, of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. The series ran alongside Sabrina, The Teenage Witch in the '90s and early '00s, but the shows were very different. Sabrina was a sitcom while Buffy was a drama, and focused more on horror. When the Untitled Sabrina Project was still in production with the CW, the network stated that it would explore horror as well, and cited Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist as inspirations.
The series will consist of 20 one-hour episodes. There is no set release date, but the CW previously stated that the series will premiere in 2018.
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