×

‘Bridgerton’ Star Charithra Chandran on How Colorism Made Her Avoid the Sun for Years: ‘It’s a Daily Struggle’

Bridgerton. Charithra Chandran as Edwina Sharma
LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

Bridgerton” star Charithra Chandran is sitting at Netflix’s FYSEE experience at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles with her fellow Indian co-star Simone Ashley, where they talked about their instantly beloved roles as sisters in the second season of the hit Netflix series.

“Bridgerton” has been praised for its diverse cast, but the applause amplified even more when Chandran and Ashley joined Season 2 because they have darker skin than the Indian actors who are traditionally cast in Hollywood for significant roles.

“Coming to L.A., it was a profound moment because I spent my life avoiding the sun,” Chandran, who plays Edwina on “Bridgerton,” tells me during a joint interview with Ashley and co-star Nicola Coughlan. “I spent my whole life going outside with a hat on or being fully covered up so I didn’t tan. This is the first time in my life that I walked out and I was like, ‘I can feel it. I can tan.’ And I can feel beautiful. We’re in this position, and maybe people look up to us, I don’ know. But I am on this journey with all those young women, and it’s a daily struggle for me. I hope it’s not for them, but I can only assume that it is.”

Chandran begins to tear up. “When you’re young and you’re an immigrant all you want to do is assimilate,” she continues. “All you want to do is fit in. And for me that meant rejecting everything that made me special, everything about my culture. I’m getting so emotional but what makes me so happy is seeing young girls embracing their culture and seeing them wearing Indian jewelry and wearing bhindis and being so proud of who they are because that wasn’t my reality.”

Lazy loaded image
Nicola Coughlan, Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran Michael Buckner for Variety

Ashley, who plays Kate, remembers meeting Chandran on set for the first time.

“To be honest I never worked with another Tamil actress before,” she said. “We were about to have a rehearsal together and she came in. I was trying to be very professional but I wanted to pull her aside and be like, ‘We have so much to talk about.’”

The second season of “Bridgerton” continues to be among the top 10 most-watched shows on Netflix since it premiered in late March. “You always worry about the sophomore slump that people talk about,” Coughlan said.

Chandran added, “It’s so good to know that the love for the show is so genuine and it wasn’t just luck or whatever. People flippin’ loved Season 1 and they love Season 2.”