Ever since the premiere of its second season on Friday, March 25, the Netflix romance period drama Bridgerton has been receiving a lot of public attention and so have its cast members.
Simone Ashley, who appeared in the second season as Kathani “Kate” Sharma, is one of the cast members. The actress has also appeared in Netflix’s Sex Education and will be starring in the upcoming 2023 film The Little Mermaid.
Simone Ashley’s Indian Heritage
Simone Ashwini Pillai, professionally known as Simone Ashley, was born on March 30, 1995, in Camberley, Surrey, England.
Both her parents, Latha and Gunasekharan Pillai, are first-generation immigrants from Southern India and belong to Tamilian heritage.
Her nationality is British and she grew up in the market time in Beaconsfield with her siblings and relatives, where she found her love in theatre, music, dancing, and arts.
Simone Ashley’s Parents Were Concerned about Her Acting Career
Most of Ashley’s family and close relatives were involved in academic careers, unlike the actress who was passionate about the arts from a young age. She grew up playing the piano and performing Italian opera and wanted to pursue an artistic career.
This resulted in her parents showing their concerns about their daughter chasing her dreams in the field of arts. She described her parents as being “quite protective” in her initiate days in the industry to Glamour Magazine.
“They’re the first generation. They came from India to this country, so they didn’t really have a life where they could choose to be whatever they wanted,” she expressed. “There is no crystal ball, no security, no guarantee, which can be a parent’s worst nightmare.”
Nevertheless, moving past their initial reluctance, Ashley’s parents showed support for their daughter’s aspirations and her mom even took her to her dance and singing lessons.
The Surrey-native took courage and pursued acting and theatre in Redroofs Theatre School and then went on to graduate from ArtsEd school in Chiswick.
After her graduation, she went on to star in movies like Boogie Man, Kill Ben Lyk, and Detective Pikachu before landing her prominent role in Sex Education in 2019.
She told Veylex that careers in the film industry are built mostly built on connections and it is incredibly difficult coming from Indian heritage to get roles in Hollywood.
Although she had no one she could look up to to provide her the opportunities, she was incredibly driven to establish herself as an actress. Ashley expressed that she is proud of her ethnicity and excited to see India being represented in Hollywood.
However, she told Net-A-Porter that doesn’t view herself as the representative of the Indian community and that she is just an actress at the end of the day.
“I am deeply proud of my ethnicity but no, I’m not a spokesperson for Indian people, I’m an actress,” she said. “For me, my responsibility is to read the script, do the work, turn up on set and do a great job.”
Playing Kate Is a Dream Come True for Simone Ashley
The 27-year-old actress explained that she studied a lot of classical music and enjoyed period dramas growing up.
“I grew up singing quite a lot and studied a lot of classical music, and then that kind of led into musical theater and I fell in love with musicals,” she told Variety.
Being featured in Bridgerton was a childhood dream coming true for her and she is grateful for the opportunity to feature in the Netflix special.