Photograph courtesy of Liam Daniel/Netflix

As she should!

It’s no secret that BridgertonThe gripping stories of are led by strong women. Sure, the period drama gives us plenty of regency glamor and steamy love scenes, but its beauty is ultimately rooted in female agency, sisterhood, and friendships. These themes are central to the upcoming second season, thanks to newcomer Kate Sharma, played by Simone Ashley.

When Lady Whisteldown’s gossip-filled society returns to Netflix on March 25, it will follow the story of Anthony, the eldest of the Bridgerton siblings and Viscount, as he tries to find a woman who meets his standards. impossible. Kate, who has just moved to London from India with her younger sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran) and mother Mary (Shelley Conn), instantly clashes with the Viscount, despite their palpable chemistry.

Photograph courtesy of Liam Daniel/Netflix

Anthony has found his match in Kate: she’s stubborn, lively and not afraid to use her voice. And it turns out playing this powerful on-screen personality had an impact on Simone Ashley in real life.

When talking to a Bridgerton press conference on March 21, the 26-year-old British actor was asked what she learned about herself playing Kate. “I’ll keep it simple. I think I learned to own it a little bit more and not be afraid to own my voice,” she explained, then added, “It was scary in itself to say that, but I possesses.

Simone Ashley
Photograph courtesy of Liam Daniel/Netflix

In the film and TV industry, owning your voice comes with another set of challenges for actors of South Asian descent like Ashley, who don’t traditionally see themselves shown on screen. But the star’s magnetic presence and real style already have fans hailing her as Netflix’s new It Girland the most charming character of the upcoming season.

But Ashley is not new to revolutionary television. She plays the intimidating but secretly kind popular girl Olivia Hanan in the Netflix sensation Sex educationa comedy series that offers new perspectives on puberty, sex and relationships.

Bridgerton, too, subverts expectations in more ways than one. Its outrageous plots and salacious writing push the boundaries of a traditional period drama, which has always lacked representation.

“Finding darker-skinned South Asian women and making sure they’re portrayed on screen in an authentic and sincere way feels like something we haven’t seen enough of,” said executive producer Shonda. Rhimes in a recent press release. “I felt it was time for us to make sure we saw [that] as possible.” This season, two of the show’s main cast members, Ashley and Chandran, provide that portrayal.

simone ashley bridgerotn
Photograph courtesy of Liam Daniel/Netflix

The Sharmas come to Regency London as outsiders trying to fit in. As we get to know them, we see nods to South Asian culture through practices like the Haldi ceremony, a traditional Indian ritual before marriage.

“What I love about the show is that in times of deep sadness and in times of jubilation, you see them come back to their culture,” Chandran said at the press conference. “When Edwina is particularly upset, what Kate does to make her feel better are very traditional Indian things, like oiling her hair. And in moments of jubilation, like the Haldi scene, that’s what you see.

“I remember filming the Haldi scene so well…I never really imagined that we would ever be on set to play a scene like that,” Ashley said. “There was so much of our own personal experience that we brought to those times as well.”

simone ashley bridgerton
Photograph courtesy of Liam Daniel/Netflix

Filled with new faces and new stories, Bridgerton season two promises more intrigue, gossip and scandal. But while its romance conquest plots are filled with drama, it simultaneously highlights the enduring strength of brotherhood.

Kate’s role as a protective older sister and her connection to her culture stand out as heartwarming mainstays in the season ahead. As we prepare to see Simone Ashley discover her voice through Kate, we are already supporting her.

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