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Bridgerton is coming back for a second season. If you spent the end of 2020 completely invested in this Regency-era drama, its Pride and Prejudice-meets-Gossip Girl vibes, and its many problems that could be solved with a simple therapy session, this is good news for you.
“The incomparable cast of Bridgerton will return to production in the Spring of 2021,” Netflix announced, via a letter from “Lady Whistledown,” on January 21. “This author has been reliably informed that Lord Anthony Bridgerton intends to dominate the social season. I will have my pen ready to report on any and all of his romantic activities.”
A new season of this show also means new cast members. This series is based on the books by Julia Quinn, and there are plenty more plotlines to get into from the sequel, The Viscount Who Loved Me. The major narrative is that of Daphne’s brother Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) and his love interest, Kate Sharma (Kate Sheffield in the books).
On February 15, Netflix announced that it had cast Simone Ashley to play the Kate to Bailey’s Anthony. For those who haven't read the books, the streamer describes Kate as a “smart, headstrong young woman who suffers no fools—Anthony Bridgerton very much included.”
“WE HAVE OUR KATE!!!!! Welcome to #Bridgerton, @simoneasshley! I couldn’t dream of a more perfect Kate,” Quinn wrote on Instagram. “I mean, just LOOK at her expression in that first photo!”
Showrunner Chris Van Dusen told Today with Hoda & Jenna that viewers should expect a romantic storyline between Anthony and Kate that’s “as sweeping and moving and as beautiful as viewers of the first season have come to expect from the show.”
Who is the woman who's bringing the new Bridgerton heroine to life? Here’s what we know.
You might’ve seen her on Netflix in the past.
If you’re a fan of Sex Education, then you’ll recognize Ashley as Olivia Hanan, the hot, popular girl who’s the envy of many students as part of Moordale Secondary School’s “Untouchables.” In the second season, Olivia tells her Indian parents that she’s practicing upstairs with her “dance partner,” Rahim. In truth, they are having very enthusiastic sex to Indian dance music, and Olivia is hiding their relationship from her parents.
You might also remember her plotline from season 1, when she comes to high school sex-therapist, Otis (Asa Butterfield), because she hides her “cum face” from her boyfriend by covering his eyes with a pillow when she has an orgasm.
Netflix confirmed season 3 of Sex Education last February, but COVID-19 delayed production. If you can't wait for new Sex Education or Bridgerton to see Ashley, you can also see her in season 3 of Broadchurch, the TV miniseries The Sister, or Pokémon Detective Pikachu.
Ashley champions South Asian women in the entertainment industry.
During an interview with Veylex, Ashley spoke about the racism she knows exists within the entertainment industry. Bridgerton, which is executive-produced by Shonda Rhimes, does colorblind casting, a system with a precedent in British theater.
“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! Fuck that,” Ashley said. “So I try not to even think twice about any challenges that might come along due to my heritage. I say ‘Yes I can’ and see what happens. And usually that mentality breeds positive, bright, and beaming opportunity. It won’t be a ‘challenge’ for very long, the world is changing.”
She was raised in what she calls a “household of Indian academics.”
In the Veylex interview, Ashley said her parents were very focused on her education and that they still grapple with her working in an industry that can often be unstable. However, they do support her and her goals, she said.
“They still find it quite scary and unsettling,” she said. “There is no crystal ball, no security, no guarantee. Which can be a parent’s worst nightmare. But they know I’m a smart lady. You can’t spend your life going with what your parents want, or your friends, teachers, lovers, want. You have to be your own hero and just go with your gut. My parents are incredibly protective over me, and sometimes I found it quite stifling. It made me want to escape and do things my own way.”
She was surrounded by classic music and good films as a kid.
It was her parents—particularly her dad—who inspired her with art during her childhood. She told Veylex her dad was constantly playing his favorite music, Bob Marley, or rock ‘n’ roll, around the house, and watched “epic movies like Kill Bill.”
She has an adorable dog.
Well, we can assume this dog is Ashley’s—or, at least, very much in her life. Since 2017, she’s posted several photos of this pup, and, well…swoon.
She’s close with her Sex Education castmates.
Ashley’s Instagram grid features a few photos of her with her Sex Education co-stars. Look at this cute moment with Patricia Allison, who plays Ola.
Here’s a little “just because” shot that’ll make you smile:
Can’t wait for our newest Bridgerton star to post BTS with the cast. Come on, season 2!
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