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‘Bridgerton Season 2’ Has A South Asian Lead! But, Who Is Simone Ashley?

And what, dear readers, is her role in the upcoming season?

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When ‘Bridgerton’ was first introduced on Netflix, it became the seasons incomparable, having graced over 82million households with tales of the lives of the well-loved family. Following its success, fans demanded a second season and like the absolute gift that it was, a second season was quickly confirmed. Fans of the books the series is based on (written by Julia Quinn) may not be surprised by this development, but, season two will follow the eldest Bridgerton sibling Lord Anthony Bridgerton (played by Jonathan Bailey) as he recovers from a tumulous fling with an opera singer. In the book that chronicles Anthony’s love story, ‘The Viscount Who Loved Me’, we’re introduced to one of the most popular characters in the longstanding series, Kate Sheffield. Now, Kate is described by Netflix as “a smart, headstrong young woman who suffers no fools”, but she’s so much more than that.

 

 

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A post shared by Julia Quinn (@juliaquinnauthor)

 

Who is Kate Sharma (Sheffield, in the books)?

The name change, liberty taken to suit the actress portraying the character, does not take away from the fact that Kate is – without a doubt – one of the greatest characters ever introduced in Julia Quinn’s books (although, Emma Dunster from ‘Splendid’ is a close second). Kate is the devoted older sister to stepsister Edwina, having lost her mother at a young age and later, her father. There is no hate within the family though, as Kate’s stepmother is kind and Edwina is sweet. The family travel to London for the season, with Edwina quickly becoming the Ton’s “incomparable of the season”. However, just as Kate is devoted to Edwina, Edwina will not marry without Kate’s blessings. As such, when Anthony Bridgerton decides that Edwina would make as fine of a Lady Bridgerton as any, chaos – in the form of Kate – ensues. Kate will not let Edwina marry Anthony, the rake that he is, while Anthony is determined to court and eventually marry Edwina.

 

In the book, we’re given a glimpse into the complexities of Anthony’s character, and eventually, it is Kate’s character and their relationship that serves as the reveal for why the bee serves as the series’ mascot. Kate brings a blend of fun, intelligence, strong will and romance to the series like no other.  An example of why Kate is described as the “most meddlesome woman to ever grace a London ballroom”? During his introduction to Kate, in which Anthony tries to get on her good graces (in only so he can marry her younger sister), he says “Miss Sheffield, you are as lovely as your sister,” to which she coldly (and wittily) replies:

 

“And you, Lord Bridgerton, are almost as handsome as your brother.”

 

Now, who is Simone Ashley & how will she make a great Kate?

 

Well, for one, she’s British.

 

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A post shared by Simone Ashley (@simoneasshley)

The 25-year-old is a British actress of South Asian (Indian) descent. Born March 30th 1995, she’s an Aries that is true to her sign: courageous and honest.  In an interview with Veylex, Simone detailed the reaction of her family, a traditional Indian one full of academics, to her career choice:

 

“They still find it quite scary and unsettling. There is no crystal ball, no security, no guarantee. Which can be a parents worst nightmare.”

 

She’s a fighter too.

 

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A post shared by Simone Ashley (@simoneasshley)

Not in terms of physical fistfights, no. But just like how Kate does not hold back when speaking up, Ashley has been vocal about the challenges of being a person of colour in the entertainment industry.

 

“Yes, colourism is an ongoing issue. As is being type cast, being looked over because of the colour of your skin, losing roles to girls that are more ‘relatable’ to target audiences and markets. But if I surrender to all of that, where would I be going? Nowhere! F**** that,”

In an interview with Harpers Bazaar India, she went on to highlight how 2020 was a year that taught her the importance of action.

 

“Being proactive is helping. Donate, sign petitions, protest, speak up. And hey, it’s 2020, a message to all dark-skinned desi girls, put down that fairness cream, you don’t need it.”

 

 

Before ‘Bridgerton’, Simone Ashley has acted in…

 

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A post shared by Simone Ashley (@simoneasshley)

At present, Asley is recognised for her role as Olivia Hanan on the popular coming-of-age show, ‘Sex Education’. However, her first role was in the 2016 series ‘Wolfblood’. She’s also had a part in the British crime drama ‘Broadchurch’ and recently starred in the miniseries ‘The Sister’, as Elise Fox. She also had a small role in the 2019 film ‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’.

 

 

Now, according to Netlix’s official press release, filming for season two will only start later this year (in the summer, some say). Without an official premiere date, we can only twiddle our thumbs as we wait for what creator and showrunner Chris Van Dusen has promised for season 2 “it’s going to be as sweeping and moving and as beautiful as viewers of the first season have come to expect from the show.” As for if Ashley is daunted by the task of taking up the mantle of the lead actress in the continuation of Netflix’s most-watched series ever, probably not. After all, she’s once said:

 

“I really believe in myself and in other dark-skinned women, especially South Asian women! We are smart, we are talented and we all have something special to offer as artists!”

 

Is it possible to fall in love with the same actress over and over again, every single day? Probably, if that actress is Simone Ashley.

 

 

 

*Cover image credits: Instagram / @simoneasshley

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