'Siren' is a 10-part series which is available to watch exclusively on Showmax.
Interestingly enough, it falls under the Disney umbrella which would bring with it some 'Little Mermaid' expectations, but instead, it veers off in the other direction in which the mysterious aquatic creatures are vicious predators.
While that is something for which we can be grateful, the series does rely quite heavily on several formulaic elements in terms of its characters and their relationships with each other, and storylines.
This means at times it is terribly cheesy, heavy-handed and predictable but that’s the pay-off when reaching out to a wider audience. That said, I did watch the entire season in one easily digestible binge and I was not disappointed. Also, Rotten Tomatoes gave it an aggregate rating of 94%, which is not too shabby.
Siren follows Ryn (Eline Powell), a mermaid who arrives in the seaside town of Bristol Cove looking for her sister but who is soon wreaking havoc and making friends.
Donna is played by Zimbabwean-South African actress Sibongile Mlambo.
She talks to us about the series.
Siren is not the traditional “cute” mermaid story - what are your feelings about that, and the route that has been taken with the creatures and their lore?
I love that our mermaids are not cutesy splashy creatures, but resemble something you might actually find in nature. They are apex predators that are highly intelligent. The siren song and their ability to shape-shift adds to their danger and mystery. There is so much out there about mermaids and sirens, and what I love is that the creators of the show opted for something edgy. It is our unique take on it. I love it!
How much did you know about mermaid lore before being cast?
I didn’t know anything; Ariel was pretty much it for me!
So how much research did you need to do?
I read as much as I could; I was amazed at how much was out there! Different parts of the world have different takes on the lore. I found out that people believe in freshwater mermaids in Zimbabwe!
What attracted you to the role and why?
There are so many things that attracted me to Donna. First, she is a mermaid, which we have not seen a lot of on TV. And she’s a predator, which allowed me the freedom to be creative when bringing her to life. I love that she’s a fierce protector, and in human form, a warrior of a woman. She’s strong and complex and the role was physically demanding.
Tell us about your character and outline her role in the series?
Donna is Ryn’s sister who is captured in the first episode. She is a hunter, she is a fierce and very strong mermaid.
I guess what makes her powerful is her physical strength, the siren song and the mermaids’ ability to learn things very quickly. Her main objective is to get free and get back in the water with her sister.
They have quite different experiences on land with humans and that causes some friction between them.
Can you tell us about the make-up process?
Haha! It was pretty simple. On a “land” day, I had natural make-up, contacts and my wig. On a “water” day, I wore a small bikini top and a tight skirt that kept my legs together. Make-up then put white dots all over my body so the CGI team could track my movement in the water. It took about 20 to 30 minutes to secure my wig so it wouldn’t come off in the water and then I popped in my contacts and teeth.
Did you do your own stunts?
Yes, I did a lot of my own stunts. I also had a stunt double for the more dangerous sequences. I was underwater a lot and it was so much fun! Those were probably the scenes I enjoyed most.
How did these challenge you?
A lot of my stunts on land were fight sequences. They had a lot to do with coordination, timing, everyone going on the right cues or knowing how to fall right.
Underwater was a beast of its own. It was dark and the contacts limit your vision so it was a challenge to make sure we were in the frame.
You need underwater speakers in order to be able to take direction and have a long enough breath-hold for the take.
Tell us why you think audiences should watch Siren.
Mermaids are the new vampires and werewolves. No one has done it before, so if people want to watch something different, this is it!