Bridgerton's Simone Ashley says she had to work "twice as hard" to break into acting being a woman of colour
21 April 2022, 13:34
"You hope the goal is that one day it is just completely normalised, and there's a sense of ease for women of all heritages and cultures to have doors open for them."
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Simone Ashley has opened up about having to work "twice as hard" as her white counterparts to break into acting.
Thanks to her roles as Olivia Hanan in Sex Education and Kate Sharma in Bridgerton, Simone has become one of Netflix's most recognisable stars. The talented actress has even landed herself an undisclosed role in Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid film, which is set for release in 2023.
Although Simone has made her breakthrough, it hasn't been easy. In a recent interview on Reign With Josh Smith, Simone opened up about having to work harder as a woman of colour. She also revealed that she moved to Los Angeles as a teenager and worked in a frozen yoghurt shop and waitressing while trying to get her big break.
"I guess I have to work twice as hard and I haven't really said that enough to myself and given myself a pat on the back for that," Simone, who is of Indian Tamil descent, told Josh Smith in response to a Bridgerton scene in episode 1 where Kate told Lady Danbury (played by Adjoa Andoh) that Edwina (Charithra Chandran) had to work "twice as hard" as the other girls too.
"For me it has just always been like, 'I'm just like any other actress. I can do this. I can have a script put in front of me and bring a character to life, and I'm smart and got creative ideas, and I can do this.' But I think, yeah, as a woman and a woman of colour, you do have to work harder. We are working twice as hard."
Despite having to work harder, Simone said she would happily "do it again", calling success "the most rewarding feeling".
Simone also hopes that seeing women of all cultures will be normalised onscreen. "It's a nice feeling to just push through and to have your dreams achieved no matter what the hurdles are," Simone explained.
"You hope the goal is that one day it is just completely normalised, and there's a sense of ease for women of all heritages and cultures to have doors open for them. I think all of us in whatever industry we choose, we all do the hustle and we all do the grind, and it's good to be proud of that and to acknowledge that for sure. I wouldn't want anything to stop me from achieving my dreams or being good at my job. I've worked so hard up until this moment."
Similarly, Simone's on-screen sister Charithra Chandran, who is also Tamil, has spoken about her experiences as an actor from a minority ethnic background, which often left her feeling like a "box ticker".
"Minorities are often alluded to as being there to tick boxes, to fill a quota. I cannot tell you how unbelievably invalidating that is. It penetrates our minds and makes us feel like we’re not worthy of success," Charithra told Radio Times. "I had people at university tell me, 'You only got the lead in that show because they needed to have a person of colour in it.'"
Read more Bridgerton stories here:
- Bridgerton's Charithra Chandran says minority actors are treated as "box tickers"
- Bridgerton's Simone Ashley will not return for Sex Education season 4
- Bridgerton's Simone Ashley says Kate's corset made her "sick" and she couldn't eat
- Bridgerton’s Simone Ashley is set to appear in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid
- Bridgerton's Charithra Chandran said friends told her she only got cast as Edwina because she's "brown"