Arsema Thomas as Young Danbury in Queen Charlotte – The Hollywood Reporter

Arsema Thomas Didn’t Watch Netflix’s Hit Movie Bridgerton before she submitted an audition tape to play Lady Agatha Danbury in its prequel series, Queen Charlotte, while studying for a Master of Fine Arts in London. But even without seeing the show that has garnered fans around the globe, she knew she wanted the role.

“There is something interesting or different about this kind of storytelling because it clearly draws people in,” says Thomas CHEAP. “There’s something about the fact that I’ve never seen a character written like this for a Black woman before. Usually, if she’s supporting the main story, then she doesn’t have a three-dimensional story of her own – she just exists in the realm of the lead role. And to see that this woman was so attractive, so mysterious – but in a way that didn’t take away her complexity, but added it beautifully… I thought, ‘I want to be a woman. this woman when I grow up.’ ”

Prequel, created by Bridgerton producer Shonda Rhimes, delves into the rise to power of young Queen Charlotte (India Ria Amarteifio). Lady Danbury, whom Thomas calls “a powerful, strong, resilient woman,” played by Adjoa Andoh in Bridgertonand Thomas said that she worked with Andoh to create both younger and older versions of the character because of that. Queen Charlotte back and forth between the past and the present Bridgerton universe. The 28-year-old actress also worked closely with Cyril Nri, 62, who plays Lord Danbury, as well as with the intimate coordinators for the sex scenes between Agatha and her much older husband. object.

But much more has been prepared by Thomas for the character. Thomas is American but retains a British accent in all of her auditions. “Shonda didn’t know until three months after filming that I was American. She thought for sure I was British,” she said.

Tunji Kasim and Arsema Thomas in Queen Charlotte: The Bridgerton Story.

Tunji Kasim and Arsema Thomas in Queen Charlotte: The Bridgerton Story.

Courtesy of Nick Wall/Netflix

Thomas also interviewed her mother and grandmother prior to production. “Both of them are women who have been in extremely difficult circumstances and come out without bitterness or aversion to the system, but understanding that there is a purpose greater than their own comfort,” she said. themselves. “That’s what Agatha really exploits. She is driven by principles, by values, ethics and morality, and the idea of ​​equality in its simplest form. It didn’t come naturally to me, so I needed to appeal to the women in my life. Also, she’s African in heritage, and I wanted something to tie her to that throughout the show.

Most of Thomas’s previous work was school plays, and she says those projects didn’t really prepare her for a role as nuanced as Lady Danbury. “It wasn’t the most satisfying thing,” admits Thomas. “I felt like a lot of the drama schools I attended tended to overlook a lot of students who were racist, so I wasn’t really prepared to step into a role that included her experience. me correctly. I think it’s nice to have a Black female character written by a Black woman herself.”

This story first appeared in the May independent issue of The Hollywood Reporter. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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