Bridgerton is one of the most-watched television shows in the world. It’s no easy feat to step into that world.
That is something that must be stressful when joining a show. Especially if you are taking on an already beloved role.
Well, that is the reality for American actress Arsema Thomas, who is playing a young Agatha Danbury in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.
VIP Magazine caught up with the rising star to ask how she was dealing with the pressure of taking on the beloved role originated by Adjoa Andoh.
“I was extremely nervous!” she admits with a laugh as we chat over Zoom.
“When you are playing the younger version of such a formidable queen you feel the need to step up. The imposter syndrome will always sink in. You know, ‘This wasn’t meant to be’ and ‘I’m not strong enough. I don’t think I have that presence.’.”
However she admits that she was able to stave off the pressure by actually looking at the journey her character goes on.
“I recognised that there are forty years of growth in between the two. This woman, that we know in Bridgerton, is going to be very different in Queen Charlotte. I think that is a really important thing for people to see. You know that it doesn’t have to happen overnight, the change for you to become the person you want to be!
“It takes so many versions of yourself. And we see that! We see her catch her mistakes and recognise that she has done something wrong and she wants to go in a different way and pivot. Understanding the conflict that she’s going through and seeing that I’m going through that same conflict at the same age. It made it feel less like this big job and this mountain to climb, and more like there are shoes that are going to fit me perfectly. I don’t have to fit into these other shoes.”
What a lovely sentiment! And she’s dead right.
The series follows a young Queen Charlotte as she falls in love with King George and forms alliances with the young Lady Danbury. Both women are very different to the women we are familiar to in Bridgerton.
“I think the journey starts off with Agatha, not Lady Danbury just yet, in a very demanding and seemingly imprisoning marriage with an older man. You see a different version of her,” Arsema explains.
“She acquiesces, she doesn’t feel like she’s going to change. And she feels like there isn’t any other option for her than to fulfil her duty as a wife. But as she starts to come closer to Charlotte, she sees what her positioning means and a chemical reaction happens. You see Lady Danbury step into her power.
“You see her have this power to say what she means and believe full-heartedly what she says. There is a self-awareness that she starts to garner and an honesty that propels her through into Bridgerton.”
While Arsema tells us that it was definitely frustrating to see what her character goes through at the start, she actually drew a lot of inspiration from her own grandmother.
“One of the things that helped me was chatting to my grandmother,” she tells VIP.
“I learned over the course of this that my mother was in an arranged marriage at the age of seven but she ran away. She was then in another arranged marriage at the age of 13. She didn’t harbour any animosity towards the situation because she sees it as a duty.”
Of course, Adjoa was on hand to help her as well, she gushes: “Adjoa was so generous with her time and her energy with helping me craft young Agatha.”
And what an incredible young Agatha she is.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is streaming on Netflix now