Exclusive Interview: Sasha Sloan on Creating “Noble House of Black” Fan Series

Even ten years after the last movie, the Harry Potter fandom is thriving. From fan fiction to home decor and recipes, we’re still at home in the wizarding world. The most magical art has been born from this fandom, including the Noble House of Black (NHOB) fan series, created by Sasha Sloan.

Sasha’s TikTok account, @sashaesloan, has gained 1.3 million followers, many of whom flock to her account for Harry Potter– and Star Wars-themed content. In autumn 2020, Sasha posted a TikTok featuring Bellatrix, Andromeda, and Narcissa circa 1970; this quickly blossomed into a magical series. I was fortunate to interview Sasha on her creative process.

 

Sasha Sloan as Narcissa Black

 

Like many of us, Sasha has long been a Harry Potter fan, even writing fan fiction in middle school. When the “DracoTok” trend took off, she saw a window of opportunity.

I had seen so many creative self-insert stories about the Harry Potter universe, and plenty of fabulous cosplays of the Black [s]isters, but I hadn’t seen anything done with the story of all three sisters.

Sasha posted three videos of herself, her sister, and her cousin as Narcissa, Andromeda, and Bellatrix, not expecting to go viral. It’s easy to see why the fandom latched on; the passion and hard work that goes into writing, shooting, and editing is evident.

I start with the music. The tone and timing of the scene is structured to work in tandem with the lyrics and rhythm, and I love researching time[-]appropriate music that fits the characters [sic] development—for example, when Andromeda and Bellatrix have their last argument before Andromeda’a disownment, the song I selected is Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way.’

 

Summer Sloan Alvey as Andromeda Black and Tanner Gillman as Ted Tonks

 

With 1970s vibes back in a big way, the aesthetics are bewitching. You also can’t help but be spellbound by the riveting story of Bellatrix, Andromeda, and Narcissa.

I love the story of the three sisters because (in my mind) they represent the whole spectrum of good and evil. Andromeda’s journey in particular is one that many can relate to: choosing a love that defies her family’s wishes, rejecting the harmful beliefs she had been taught and carving out a path for herself in the world.

Bellatrix’s journey is dark as ever, but NHOB enlightens us, exploring the disturbing backstory that twisted her mind.

We realized it was quite possible that Tom Riddle met Bellatrix when she was a young student at Hogwarts. Once we visualized the age gap between a middle-age [sic] Tom and a teenage Bellatrix, we knew we had to follow a storyline that demonstrated classic grooming techniques of an abusive relationship.

 

Karina Gillette as Bellatrix Black

 

Draco’s mother, Narcissa, is played by Sasha herself. She shared the questions NHOB aims to address:

Did she have a relationship with Andromeda after she was disowned? Why did she have Draco so long after she was married? Where did she learn Occlumency, and why?

It’s clear that the actors are enjoying themselves. We love that Lucius is “intense on set.” Regulus and Sirius were supposed to be the only other characters, but the cast quickly expanded.

We assembled our Order of the Phoenix for a scene, including Remus Lupin, Molly Weasley, Emmeline Vance, Marlene McKinnon, etc., and it was pure magic having them all in the same room at the same time.

 

Summer Sloan Alvey as Andromeda Black, Karina Gillette as Bellatrix Black, Trevan Gillette as Regulus Black, Sasha Sloan as Narcissa Black, and Kaden Caldwell as Sirius Black

 

Inspired by Star Wars, Sasha draws parallels between characters and their younger counterparts. Watch for Easter eggs such as Andromeda excelling in the same subjects as her daughter, Lucius holding the iconic green apple, and Regulus mirroring Draco’s breakdown in the sixth film.

When asked about the state of the fandom today, Sasha applauded the inspiring creativity of other fans posting content.

It’s amazing that these stories have the power to touch millions as they allow folks to return to a universe they’ve been imagining and exploring since childhood. DracoTok provided such a relief from the monotony and bleakness of quarantine, and I’m just incredibly honored and flattered that we get to be a part of that community.

Noble House of Black is making pivotal shifts for its characters, and we can’t wait to watch it all unfold! We’d like to congratulate Sasha on her recent crowning as Miss Utah and thank her for taking the time to speak with us.

Full Transcript with Sasha Sloan, Thursday, June 10, 2021

What is your personal relationship with Harry Potter and the fandom at large?

I was introduced to the Harry Potter books as a very young child; my Dad read the first book out loud to me before bed and I instantly fell in love with the story. I can vividly remember attending the midnight premiere of the Goblet of Fire movie, and rushing into Barnes and Noble at midnight for the release of Deathly Hallows. Hogwarts provided a huge amount of escapism for me as a child, and by middle school, I was reading and writing fan fiction to feed my obsession.

How did Noble House of Black get started? Where did the idea come from, and what were the first steps?

Noble House of Black started while the “DracoTok” trend was seizing the world. I had seen so many creative self-insert stories about the Harry Potter universe, and plenty of fabulous cosplays of the Black [s]isters, but I hadn’t seen anything done with the story of all three sisters. I have an older sister (Summer Sloan Alvey) and an older cousin (Karina Gillette) [who] are both professional performers, and the idea first struck me to make 5 one-minute vignettes of the three of us cosplaying Narcissa, Andromeda and Bellatrix Black as young women. We filmed the first three in a couple [of] hours, very late at night, and I edited and posted the videos with fairly measured expectations. To our surprise, all three were extremely well received, garnering millions of views and thousands of comments asking for more! The fire was lit, and we got to work making more, eventually casting a dozen more characters and fleshing out an elaborate continuous plot line for “Season 2.”

Can you describe your process for writing for the series? Were there any surprises as a result of your research?

Since [Noble] House of Black is created in the silent film format, I start with the music. The tone and timing of the scene is structured to work in tandem with the lyrics and rhythm, and I love researching time[-]appropriate music that fits the characters [sic] development—for example, when Andromeda and Bellatrix have their last argument before Andromeda’a disownment, the song I selected is Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”

There have definitely been surprises from our research, mostly concerning the timeline—for example, we filmed a scene with Regulus, Bellatrix and Narcissa discussing the murder of the Prewett brothers, then realized retrospectively that Regulus was not actually alive when they were killed! (Facepalm) additionally, since [Noble] House of Black is written for the die-hard fans, we try our best to incorporate “fanon” theories that are widely accepted so that people can see their favorite fan fiction imaginations come to life. We’ve been surprised at some of the wacky theories—for example, people that are convinced Bellatrix was a Gryffindor (she was definitely a Slytherin) or that Ted Tonks was a Ravenclaw (we placed him in Hufflepuff to emulate his daughter and grandson).

On the surface, readers might not easily relate to Bellatrix and Narcissa, and we barely meet Andromeda in the books. How has this project brought these characters to life, and what do you hope viewers will gain from seeing their story play out?

I love the story of the three sisters because (in my mind) they represent the whole spectrum of good and evil. Andromeda’s journey in particular is one that many can relate to: choosing a love that defies her family’s wishes, rejecting the harmful beliefs she had been taught and carving out a path for herself in the world despite being raised with a very harmful world view [sic].

Bellatrix is the villain we love to hate; she’s twisted, sadistic, and totally without mercy, so the question I’ve enjoyed exploring with NHOB is “How did she get here?” In our research for the series, we realized it was quite possible that Tom Riddle met Bellatrix when she was a young student at Hogwarts. Once we visualized the age gap between a middle-age [sic] Tom and a teenage Bellatrix, we knew we had to follow a storyline that demonstrated classic grooming techniques of an abusive relationship, where viewers can watch Tom appeal to Bella’s insecurity and lure her away from any sense of humanity.

Bellatrix is an exceptionally dynamic character throughout the series, as we chip away at her relationships and she dives headfirst dive into madness.

Finally, Narcissa Malfoy, née Black, has always fascinated me. As a woman, she is haughty, vain and prideful—and a member of one of the nastiest families in the Wizarding World—but she never takes the Dark Mark and is portrayed as arguably the most loving, devoted mother in the whole series. I’ve loved exploring the dynamic of a young Narcissa, torn between two sisters that she loves; the way we’ve characterized her is selfish, insecure, and easily manipulated. How we, she is also quite dynamic as a character, and we show her journey into cynical self-assuredness as she decides to marry Lucius Malfoy and steps into being a socialite and matriarch of the Malfoy dynasty. Questions that we’ve hoped to answer with Narcissa are: Did she have a relationship with Andromeda after she was disowned? Why did she have Draco so long after she was married? Where did she learn Occlumency, and why?

We love that you’ve expanded the series beyond the Black sisters with characters like Tom, Ted, the Marauders, and even Mary MacDonald appearing. Did you always plan on including them in this story? What influenced these decisions?

Originally, it was just going to be the three sisters (Narcissa, Andromeda and Bellatrix) and the two brothers (Regulus and Sirius). However, when we started expanding the story, we first knew that we wanted to bring in the sister’s love interests; Lucius for Narcissa, Ted Tonks for Andromeda, and Tom Riddle for Bellatrix. Once we got casting, we couldn’t stop—it was too much fun bringing each of the beloved characters to life! A few weeks ago, we assembled our Order of the Phoenix for a scene, including Remus Lupin, Molly Weasley, Emmeline Vance, Marlene McKinnon, etc., and it was pure magic having them all in the same room at the same time. Peter Pettigrew was originally only supposed to be in 1 shot of the Season 2 finale, but when we got the actor (Colton Ward) in full costume and on set, we were so blown away by his performance and characterization that we wrote an extra two scenes just for him.

How do you go about casting each part, and are the actors all Harry Potter fans? Who is the biggest method actor?

Most of the actors are friends of ours from previous projects in the Utah theatre community. For example, Kaden Caldwell (who plays Sirius Black) and I met when we read across from each-other [sic] at a callback two years ago. We knew that he was perfect for the character, so we wrote the part for him long before we even asked if he’d be willing—luckily he said yes! Ted Tonks is another example; he is played by Tanner Gillman, a good friend of mine who also happens to be a brilliant actor and a bit of a local celebrity. The biggest method actor is definitely Skylar Neale, who plays Lucius Malfoy—he is the nicest guy ever in real life, but incredibly intense on set and does a perfect job of playing the slimy, arrogant young Malfoy heir.

It’s fun to search for Easter eggs in NHOB episodes within the songs, scenery, writing, etc. Can you tell us about some of your favorite hidden messages?

Noble House of Black is inspired a bit by the parallels in the Star Wars trilogy. In our writing, we try to weave in as many parallels as we can between the older characters and their children or the next generation equivalent. For example, we wrote Andromeda as beginning [A]uror training in the early 1970’s [sic], and when she tells her sisters that concealment and [d]isguise is one of her best subjects, it’s a direct mirror of Nymphadora’s words years later. The Malfoys (and especially Lucius) have a whole myriad of parallels to Draco—fans loved that we had Lucius hold a green apple to parallel Draco’s infamous apple in the Prisoner of Azkaban! In one of my favorite scenes of Season 2, we follow a young Regulus Black as he escapes into a bathroom, rips off his sweater and runs the water in the midst of a mental breakdown; this was written to directly mirror Draco’s scene in Half[-]Blood Prince when he is going through the same anguish as a newly recruited Death Eater.

You mostly share your thoughts on '70s-era characters. Who is your favorite Hogwarts student from Harry's generation, and why?

I’ve always loved Neville Longbottom; to me, his journey from gawky sidekick to confident hero is one of the most heartwarming in the whole series, and the moment that he leaps up and kills Nagini is one of the best movie moments.

Harry Potter fan fiction, fan-made videos, and cosplay are all alive and well, even after all this time, and even while the world was in lockdown. What are your thoughts on being a part of a creative fan community in 2021?

The thing that I love about the Harry Potter fan community is the creativity, especially as fans explore expansionary works like the Noble House of Black. I am so inspired by other works of fan fiction, and it’s amazing that these stories have the power to touch millions as they allow folks to return to a universe they’ve been imagining and exploring since childhood. DracoTok provided such a relief from the monotony and bleakness of quarantine, and I’m just incredibly honored and flattered that we get to be a part of that community. Every time I get a message from a fan of the series, it’s validation to my 13-year-old self that fell in love with writing fan fiction, and it brings me so much joy to see that other people love these characters as much as I do.

Can you give us a teaser for what’s coming next with NHOB?

We are about to introduce the boys circa 1975; young Regulus Black being sucked into the darkness of the Death Eater lifestyle, and young Sirius Black as he decides to run away from home and later join the Order of the Phoenix. My favorite scenes that we’ve filmed include an altercation between Regulus and Bella, a scene with Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black and Remus Lupin ahead of the Potter’s [sic] wedding, and my personal favorite—the Malfoy engagement party with Lucius, Narcissa and a cameo from Rita Skeeter!

 

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Jennifer Fancher

Jenni joined the Creative Team in 2019. Outside of MuggleNet, she works at an education and technology non-profit. She is a Chicago-based Hufflepuff who, like Hermione, is "hoping to do some good in the world."

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