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Why Forspoken's Frey Sounds So Familiar

Originally introduced under the working title "Project Athia," "Forspoken" is a new, story-driven, action-adventure fantasy IP from Luminous Productions due to launch in 2022. Built using the proprietary Luminous Engine for PC and PlayStation 5, the studio and publisher Square Enix have not been shy about showing off the game's beautiful and treacherous environments. Though potential players have enjoyed numerous glimpses of the world and its creatures, the teams have revealed little about what to expect from the "Forspoken" narrative, including its main character.


After leaving viewers to speculate for months, Square Enix pulled back the curtain a bit further during its Spring 2021 showcase. Beyond revealing the official title, Square Enix introduced "Forspoken" protagonist Frey Holland, presenting her as a "seemingly ordinary woman" in an accompanying blog post. Though details remain scarce, it seems Holland will have to call upon her magical skillset as she traverses the dangerous land of Athia. The digital event also introduced the actress bringing Holland to life via voice and motion capture: Ella Balinska.

The name "Ella Balinska" might not ring any bells, but she's a rising star in the realms of TV, film, and now video games; chances are high you've encountered some of her previous work. Here's why Frey sounds so familiar in "Forspoken."


Balinska made her film debut in 2019's Charlie's Angels reboot

In 2018, Balinska had less than a dozen credits to her name, the majority of which were short films. Despite her limited acting resume, she played one of the three leading ladies in the 2019 "Charlie's Angels" reboot, marking her first appearance on the silver screen. Though Balinska and co-star Naomi Scott ("Aladdin") were fresh faces for many audience members, they were joined by a much more recognizable cast that included Kristen Stewart ("Twilight"), Patrick Stewart ("X-Men"), and Elizabeth Banks ("The Hunger Games").


"Charlie's Angels" sees programmer Elena Houghlin (Scott) thrown into the deep end of corporate espionage when her attempt to expose the corruption of her employer, Alexander Brok (Sam Claflin), results in an attempt on her life. Houghlin is rescued by Jane Hano (Balinska), a former MI6 agent, and her partner, Sabina Wilson (Stewart). After rendezvousing with former Angel Rebekah "Bosley" (Banks), the trio sets out on a mission to take Brok down that ultimately leads to Houghlin receiving her very own Angels tattoo.

"Charlie's Angels" may have bombed at the box office, but it seems to have served as a stepping stone for Balinska's career.

Balinska brought new meaning to the phrase 'nightmare date' in Run Sweetheart Run

Balinska followed up "Charlie's Angels" with the lead role in "Run Sweetheart Run," a female led "social horror film" that debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Inspired by 2017's "Get Out," "Run Sweetheart Run" exchanges racial oppression for a hard look at everyday misogyny inspired by a nightmare date (and its aftermath) that writer and director Shana Feste experienced in her own life. "I almost got to replay that night as a hero," Feste told EW. "I think a part of me got to create a superhero that I wasn't that night — but I wanted to be."


"Run Sweetheart Run" follows Cherie (Balinska), a single mother who goes on a blind date arranged by her boss after being pressured by her co-workers to give love another shot. Ethan (Pilou Asbæk), the man she is set up with, looks great on paper; however, their pleasant evening quickly takes a turn for the worst and Cherie is forced to flee for her life through the streets of Los Angeles.

Though "Run Sweetheart Run" received a limited release, the response from critics was mostly positive, earning it a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The writing fell flat for some; however, several reviewers highlighted the quality of Balinska's performance, praising her ability to capture the strength and vulnerability of her character while tackling a host of difficult and important issues.


Balinska starred as a model-turned-designer in The Athena

Before appearing in her first movie, Balinska headlined as the main character in "The Athena," a drama that follows model Nyela Malik's journey to reinvent herself as a designer after her career goes up in smoke. In pursuit of this new path, Malik manages to secure a spot at the Athena College of Visual Arts, a prestigious school in London. Despite making the cut, Malik faces several trials along the way, including the challenge of finding new friends among her talented and competitive classmates.


As reported by Deadline, "The Athena" was written by Holly Phillips, best known for her work on "Nearly Famous" and "Dance Academy 2." The show ran for a single season and didn't attract much attention from critics or viewers — it holds a 7.4/10 on IMDb based on 59 ratings and boasts little else in the way of reviews. Still, if you've got some free time, an Amazon Prime account, and a penchant for fashion and teen coming of age stories, you could probably do worse than "The Athena."