Dearest readers, we are delighted to introduce the leading lady of Bridgerton’s second season — meet Kate Sharma played by Simone Ashley. It was announced earlier this year that the 26-year-old actress will play the love interest of Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) who is the eldest of the eight Bridgerton siblings.
The Netflix show follows the storytelling of the novels. The first season and book told the love story of the eldest daughter of the family, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), her debut in society and eventual marriage to the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page). For the second instalment of the Bridgerton book and show, the focus will shift to the enemies-turned-lovers tale of the young Viscount Anthony and Kate Sharma. Those snippets of banters from the trailer between the two main characters make us believe that it’s going to be a juicy season.
As the premiere of Bridgerton season two draws closer (it’s coming in January 2022!), we get more and more excited about what’s in store for us. While waiting, get to know more about Simone — what you can expect from her character, her friendship with Phoebe Dynevor on set, her previous roles and more.
Kate Sharma is her first main role
Although the up-and-coming actress previously appeared in high-profile movies, her characters had limited screen time. Case in point: her appearance in Detective Pikachu was credited as “The Girlfriend”. This means that her performance in Bridgerton would be her first-ever main role. Originally named Kate Sheffield in Julia Quinn's novels, the character she’s playing had a change in surname to reflect the actress’s South Asian heritage. But the character’s headstrong and witty persona stays the same. We get a peek of the protagonist’s fierce personality in the recently dropped trailer where she chastises Anthony for his “wife requirements”.
As we know from the Bridgerton books, Anthony will eventually propose to Kate’s sister to be his wife. But because the Viscount is a known “rake” (Regency speak for player), she’s determined to do everything for the wedding to be called off. While enemy-to-lovers plots are quite passe, this one’s looking to be a fresh take. This quote from the book The Viscount Who Loved Me encapsulates what we can expect from Bridgerton season two: “But when Anthony kissed her, she felt as if she were losing her mind. And when he kissed her twice, she wasn't even sure if she wanted it back!”
She struck a friendship with Phoebe Dynevor on set
In between filming ballroom dancing scenes and horseback riding lessons, Simone was able to still bond with the cast including her costars Jonathan Bailey and Phoebe Dynevor, she told People. Simone also shared that Phoebe even took her to a Pilates class to hang out and unwind during a particularly stressful week. It’s great to know that the cast is just as lovely to each other as they are onscreen.
Phoebe Dynevor will have less screen time on Bridgerton season two since her fictional character has already settled in her husband’s grand estate. But because the Bridgerton siblings are a close-knit bunch, Daphne will still visit her family in London to support Eloise (Claudia Jessie), her younger sister, coming out in society. We are definitely curious to know if and how next season’s new leading lady and Daphne Bridgerton will cross paths.
She played Olivia Hanan in Sex Education
While her Bridgerton character is Simone Ashley’s first main role, playing Olivia Hanan in Sex Education was also a milestone for the young actress. The character only had a few lines but her presence was unmissable every time she was on screen with her quotable quotes and amusing unamused expressions.
Olivia was a fresh spin on the mean girl’s minion trope. As the right hand and best friend of Ruby (played by Mimi Keene), the most popular girl in the fictional Moordale High, she’s often seen acting mischievously against her classmates and once even betrayed her friend by releasing a photo of Ruby’s vulva to the whole campus. But because Simone played her so tenderly, it was less challenging to forgive the character for the wicked crime once we got to know more of her psyche. If we can like Olivia thanks to Simone’s performance, there’s a good chance we’ll also fall in love with Kate.
She trained in acting at a young age
Becoming an actress was something Simone set her sights on in her younger years. She attended Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead (the same school Titanic and Mare Of Easttown star Kate Winslet went to) where her teachers saw how passionate she was for the craft, according to Mirror.
In a 2019 interview with Veylex, Simone shared that her parents found her career choice “scary and unsettling”. But like her Bridgerton character, she’s also strong-willed and pursued it even as she dealt with colourism in the industry and “being passed over” for roles because of her skin colour. This may be a reason why she took on the screen name Simone Ashley (her birthname is Simone Ashwini Pillai) to gain more “mainstream roles”.
She’s a dog lover
Simone is definitely a dog lover. Her beloved canine friend, Myla, who looks to be a black and tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, often appears on her Instagram feed. The two besties are seen playing together at the beach or having a picnic. Simone even shares playful snaps of Myla playing with her friends.
Although we don’t know for sure how old Myla is, she did appear on Simone’s Instagram feed as early as 2017 when she was still a super small puppy. We hope this little darling will also have a Sex Education cameo like Mimi Keene’s chihuahua, Baby.
Which of these fun facts about Simone Ashley surprised you the most?
(Cover photo from: @bridgertonnetflix)
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