Simone Ashley Talks the Representation of South Asians in “Bridgerton”



Dear Reader, I'm glad to note that after conversing with Simone Ashley, I can attest that she is just as endearing as Kate Sharma from "Bridgerton." I experienced a wide range of emotions when I initially learned that Ashley would be joining the cast of the popular Netflix series' second season.

As a South Asian woman, I've been so inspired over the past few years to see stars like Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Poorna Jagannathan, and Richa Moorjani take the lead on Mindy Kaling's "Never Have I Ever," and now that Shondaland's "Bridgerton" is showcasing newcomers like Ashley and Charithra Chandran, who plays Kate's little sister Edwina Sharma, I'm finally seeing. I recently had my daughter, and it’s absolutely a great feeling to know that she will grow up and see the kind of representation that I wish I had when I was younger.

“Ashley and I discussed a variety of topics, including where she was when she first realized she had been offered the coveted part, her thoughts on our culture being portrayed on television, and what being South Asian meant to her. Look forward to our talk.”

Popsugar: you recall where you were when you learned you had been cast as Kate Sharma?

SA: Yes, I was in London filming at the time, and let's just say it was a whirlwind. Simone Ashley To finish filming on a couple films, I traveled to London even though I actually resided in Los Angeles. When "Bridgerton" unexpectedly fell into my lap, I initially believed that I would return to the United States. Everything altered in less than two weeks. I relocated back to London, went to the rehearsal, and then we began filming. I've merely been going with the flow of all of these fantastic changes and opportunities. It has been a little crazed, but in the greatest way.

PS: Sophie Canale, the show's principal costume designer, stated to us that she aimed to incorporate South Asian inspirations into the character's attire. What did you think of that? SA: Working with Sophie [Canale] was such a delight. She excelled beyond all expectations. The moment we first meet Kate, she made a significant contribution to her trip. At first, Kate wears little makeup and pulls her hair back. Because she doesn't truly trust in herself and wants to blend in with the background, she is wearing muted, dark colors. We witness Sophie incorporating all of these amazing colors into her outfits as Kate lets go and falls in love. Her hair is also getting looser, and Kate has more makeup on.

PS: Did you realize the impact those moments would have on viewers when you were acting them out? It was just such a pivotal and emotional moment to see so many of our South Asian traditions and heritage being celebrated on such a big Netflix show, like the Haldi ceremony, the hair oiling scene, and when you and Charithra called each other “Didi”.

SA: I don’t believe anyone could have anticipated the overwhelmingly positive response, particularly to the Haldi scene. It was amazing to work with Charithra and the team on something I had never brought to the screen before. My favorite scene was the one with the hair oiling since I could really relate to that. The incredibly private bonding experience of two ladies applying coconut oil to their hair may probably be related to by a lot of women from different backgrounds and countries. Charithra and I had a great time filming that sequence, and I think she gave an absolutely incredible performance. The story takes such a turn at that point, so it’s amazing that I was able to carry the scenario while her oldest sister was putting coconut oil in her hair. It was carried out in the most genuine, non-performative manner possible.

PS: That’s just something I’ve done my entire life, and it makes me feel incredibly good to know that millions more others will now be able to experience our culture!

SA: This is representation, exactly. Sharing and normalizing our culture with the rest of the world.

PS: Would you like to share any advice with young South Asian ladies that look up to you?

SA: Never hesitate to affirm your dreams. Never give in to even the slightest hint of self-doubt since, in my opinion, pursuing your goals and following your heart lead to more opportunities. It requires a lot of bravery and has a lot of strength. It has been successful for me, and if there is anything I can demonstrate, it is that it can help you open doors and put you in control of your own prospects and dreams. You can make it happen on your own; you don't need to wait for the world to change.




References: Simone Ashley on Bridgerton and Representing South Asians

Simone Ashley Talks the Representation of South Asians in “Bridgerton”

Written by John Mark Villafranca

John Mark Villafranca is a Digital Marketing Intern of PS Media Enterprise and a 3rd year Bachelor of Arts in Communication student of Batangas State University ARASOF.

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