Getting to Know ‘Citadel’ Breakout Ashleigh Cummings

Name: Ashleigh Cummings

Born and Raised: The Australian was born in Saudi Arabia and moved back to Australia when she was a preteen. “My parents wanted an adventure, they said. I think they’re spies to this day,” she says of their relocation. “I thought, ‘If I do this show, I’ll show them my spy skills, and then they’ll finally be ready to open up.’ But they continue to insist that they are medical professionals.”

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Notable Past Credits: Cummings was seen in “The Goldfinch,” opposite Nicole Kidman, as well as AMC’s “NOS4A2.”

Currently: Starring alongside Priyanka Chopra and Richard Madden in Amazon’s blockbuster Russo brothers series “Citadel,” the first season of which is out now. The show, an action spy thriller, will be adapted into international versions with a planned global rollout.  “Outside of my individual character, I was really fascinated and excited about the idea of the international elements, that this would be a global franchise series that would communicate with local language productions spearheaded by local artists, as opposed to being spinoffs that had deep roots in Western American Hollywood,” Cummings says.

Getting the “Citadel” Call: “I actually heard about it while I was at a doctor’s appointment. I received a call from my agents saying that I had an offer for this show called ‘Citadel,’ which I’d heard about because I’d met the Russos for a different project and we couldn’t work it out scheduling-wise, so I knew that they were making this show. But it had been a year or so since I’d seen them, and I didn’t know anything about the premise of the show. No one did. It was very under wraps, and then I received an offer out of thin air. I was so flattered and humbled, but really thought it was a kind of one-liner. In my head, it was either a barista or a dog walker, or I was just going to appear and disappear.”

Discovering Acting: “Actually, it was in Saudi. We didn’t have access to a lot of film or television or anything at that time, but I ended up growing up on the floorboards of an illegal underground theater group, in a troupe called Cabaret Kids,” she says. “For context, this was at a very specific moment in the country’s history when the muttawas, or religious police, exercised full legal reign. They no longer hold that position in the country; it’s taken great strides in both gender and artistic liberation. But there was so much color and imagination within these compound walls, just contained on that little theater stage. And so I think the power of storytelling and imagination, and the healing bond that it provided to me at a time when things were pretty tumultuous was a watershed moment for me.”

Up Next: “I will have, at some point, a film coming out that I shot with Kit Harrington and Caoilinn Springall, who also plays my daughter on ‘Citadel.’ I’ve played her mom twice now, and now I want to do every film with her and just switch out ‘Game of Thrones’ actors.”

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