63rd Monte-Carlo TV Festival - Simone Ashley on 'Bridgerton', Her Newest Projects and Her Golden Nymph Award
BY Yako Molhov
On Friday, June 14 the 63rd Monte-Carlo Television Festival was officially opened by Honorary President H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, following a star-studded Red Carpet featuring world-renowned acting and creative talent from many parts of the world.
Created to recognize brilliant and exceptional rising talent, the International Golden Nymph for Most Promising Talent was presented to British actress Simone Ashley during the opening gala. Ashley is known for portraying Kate Sharma, the female lead of season two of the highly successful TV series 'Bridgerton'. In her speech she shared that it has always been her dream to tell captivating stories on screen and thanked 'Bridgerton''s producer Shonda Rhimes, her prod co Shondaland, Netflix, the series' team and the many beloved fans of the show for their continued support, noting that this has been one of the most special moments of her life - to be part of something that has brought mountains of joy to all involved in the production but also to all the world. “This season is led by the phenomenally talented Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton. As I stand here, I can’t help but feel so excited for everything that’s ahead for them,” she said while accepting the award.

Ashley commented during its press meeting with journalists at the Festival that the funs things, part of her career as an actor, that she is drawn to are "the people that I get to meet, the people that I get to learn from and work with - some incredible artists that I look up to and being part of amazing stories that are important and have an urgency for the world to see and hear and to explore more sides of me as a performer and continue to grow... being an artist and being part of this industry is such a privilege".

The young actress shared that she is working on a new psychological thriller called 'This Tempting Madness' - a genre that she has always longed to do. The movie is inspired by true events - about a woman finding her strength again after a very traumatic incident. She also has a romantic comedy 'Picture This' coming up this year which she has produced on. "Those are two genres that I have never really done before. I would love to do more roles that require physicality. I want to do everything and anything, I have a musical background, so would definitely love to do something that requires a musical skillset."

Ashley talked about the two characters that she became popular for: Kate Sharma from 'Bridgerton' and Olivia Hanan from 'Sex Education'. "Sex Education was all about connection and communication - how we connect and communicate better with each other... Our role was how to make these characters as full-hearted and round as possible and to defy any stereotypes that come with them. For Kate the main challenge was that she is a character that is torn between her heart and her duty, her responsibility for her family." When asked whether Kate Sharma would return, Ashley said "I came back for season 3... I absolutely hope so (if they ask in the future) - Jonathan (Bailey) and I both love our characters Kate and Anthony so much and we would do all we can to make our schedules work..." In terms of similarities between her character Kate and her, Ashley commented that "we have many different things in common, her ambition, competitiveness, her bravery I'd like to think - that drew me to Kate. She loves very hard and very deep".

When asked by TVBIZZ about her joining 'Bridgerton' for season 2, when the show was already a hit, Ashley shared that "I understood the scale of the show, I absolutely loved Kate Sharma and Anthony's relationship and the way they were written. I remember doing the chemistry scenes with Jonathan (Bailey) and all the three scenes that we read through - I absolutely loved them. I was more focused on the work and less distracted by the scale of the show". On her work with Shonda Rhimes, the British actress commented that "Shonda just smashes out hit after hit after hit. I asked her 'do you ever get immune to just how enormous these shows are' and she said 'no' and we are both pleased that the world responds with such joy as much as we do, and especially "Bridgerton". Regarding the use of an intimacy coordinator for the series, Ashley shared that "I think they are so essential and necessary to have. They are there to make actors feel safe, as we are performing stunt scenes or choreography, I am very glad to be part of a generation that uses them".

At a press event during the Festival, Ashley also addressed the body-shaming that her co-star Nicola Coughlan has faced from some critics as her character, Penelope Featherington, stepped into the spotlight in season 3. "Yeah, the haters are going to hate, and I think we can all relate to that, but I really don't think that she's allowing that to bother her," Ashley said of Coughlan, noting that her co-star has more positive things to focus on. "She has a strong and fruitful career and entire life ahead of her. And I really believe in her, as the world does as well. I think Nicola is just absolutely flying," she said. "She is a gorgeous, strong, confident, intelligent woman, seeing her do this press tour and spread so much joy and inspiration to everyone — especially women — all over the world."

Simone Ashley's message to the fans of 'Bridgerton' is: "amongst all obstacles, love is possible".
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