Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is one of the most highly anticipated series of the year, and it’s set to be a breakout role for Chance Perdomo. The British actor is not only making his U.S. television debut, but this is his first series regular role.
Perdomo portrays Sabrina’s warlock cousin, Ambrose. Placed under house arrest for the past 75 years by the Witches Council, Ambrose is forbidden from leaving the funeral home where he lives with the Spelman women. He is one of Sabrina’s partners in crime, always up for mischief.
“Ambrose is the Alfred to Sabrina’s Batman,” Perdomo tells Shadow and Act of his 90-year-old character in a 20-year-old’s body. “He’s a puckish, witty, pansexual warlock who is a deeply loving soul,” he says. How does one begin to portray such a character? “A bit of Captain Jack Sparrow, a bit of David Bowie, and a bit of Jimi Hendrix and a bit of Loki from Thor magically rolled into one super entity,” he says. “During the screen test, they told me to think of David Bowie on a quiet day.”
It is rare enough to find a Black warlock on screen, but a pansexual character of any race is even rarer, especially in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres. Through pansexuality, audiences will get to see Ambrose be attracted to and love people irrespective of gender or sex orientation, allowing Black queer representation more room to shine on a global scale. “It’s personally and professionally gratifying, but also satisfying, because historically, this is the most represented we’ve ever been,” he says of playing this role. “We’re not quite at the promised land just yet, but we’ve come a hell of a long way. Although we don’t feel as represented, it’s like the beginning of a golden age.”
He uses his show’s streaming platform as an example. “Take a look at Netflix, which is a global platform that represents a global audience,” he says. “It’s in their best interest to have authentic narratives that better represent the world we live in today.”
But it’s also important, he says, not to play a character whose sole purpose is to check a diversity box. “It’s an honor to be able to play this role and go about it without being like, ‘Oh, he’s this buzzword’ or he’s the ‘token Black guy’ or the‘token sexuality/identification card.’ Like, no, you don’t want that. And it’s a blessing to see us moving away from that and having characters created like this on Netflix, especially ones that are multi-dimensional and have such depth. It’s not like ‘Oh, we’ve met our quota, and we can just kill them off.’ I can’t really explain to you how satisfying and gratifying it is to be able to play whatever part; it’s just beautiful. It kind of feels like when I watched Black Panther or seeing Obama become president. And I’m not comparing those to Ambrose; it’s just an honor to have that, so maybe someone could be like, ‘Yo, well s**t, I can do that, too.’ It makes me kind of teary-eyed thinking about it because I grew up wanting to be president. And to see the Obamas do that; your heart just gets filled with joy, and you think, ‘Wow, it becomes a little bit more possible,'” he says.
Without giving away spoilers, Ambrose and the Spelmans find themselves in a whole new world at the conclusion of season 1. What does this mean for Ambrose? In what space is he? Perdomo explained, “It becomes a question of ‘Who am I in this new world? In what role do I fit?’ And because of the existential nature of those questions, he has his past come back to haunt him in more ways than he could have predicted, both psychologically and physically. I can’t tell you exactly how it comes back to, for lack of a better word, bite him in his ass.”
And with folks on social media continually buzzing about prospects of a potential Riverdale crossover, Perdomo shares what he’d like to see if the shows, which exist in the same universe, actually cross paths on screen. “I’d like to see how Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and Ambrose interact,” he says. “I kind of feel like if they were to interact, they’d talk about philosophy and the existential nature of life over milkshakes at Pop’s. I feel like they’d have a good time together.”
It’s worth noting that although the character isn’t in the show (at least yet) in Archie Comics canon, the character of Jughead is asexual, so maybe Perdomo is on to something here!
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is streaming now on Netflix.