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The wait for the premiere of Bridgerton as Netflix's adaptation of author Julia Quinn's popular novel series is almost at an end, and the Shondaland show will take viewers back to the early 19th century for the best scandals that the upper crust of Regency London can provide, complete with all the corsets and cravats that period drama fans can hope for. The upper crust of Bridgerton would be incomplete without Queen Charlotte, played in the show by Golda Rosheuvel, who spoke with CinemaBlend about the "beauty" of a person of color playing the royal role.
As the trailers for Bridgerton made clear, the show will be populated by people of color in some key roles, but the focus of the show will be on romance and scandal rather than race. Golda Rosheuvel, who wears some truly spectacular Marie Antoinette-esque wigs and gowns to play Queen Charlotte, explained the significance of a person of color playing the queen:
I think that's the beauty of putting Queen Charlotte within the worlds of these books. You know, because at the top of the food chain you have a person of color. So that pushes the boundaries then, doesn't it? In storytelling and creating a world that our world, our modern world, can touch, breathe, and be connected to. So I think that was a genius move on [creator] Chris Van Dusen and the Shonda team to put Queen Charlotte, who is historically a person of color, [at the top]. Do you know what I mean?
As the Queen of England in a show centered on the lords and ladies of Regency London, Charlotte was bound to have a key role in Bridgerton. As Golda Rosheuvel said, a person of color playing the most powerful character allows the show to push boundaries as well as connect to the modern world. Queen Charlotte as a person of color may subvert some expectations of viewers who are used to period dramas that aren't particularly diverse, but also not unprecedented.
Golda Rosheuvel plays one of the relatively few historical figures of Bridgerton. Julia Quinn, who wrote the books the show is based on, noted of the real Queen Charlotte to The Times that "Many historians believe she had some African background." Bridgerton actually portraying Charlotte as a person of color is a nod to history as well as important to the show, but also isn't too surprising from a Shonda Rhimes project. Rosheuvel continued, telling me:
Then it gives you license within the fictitious world, to go, 'Let's push the boundaries. Let's put on a plate our real lives, people's real lives.' And the genre is about romance and scandal. People of color, people all around the world can, you know, escape, but also go, 'Yeah, look at that!' And be empowered by seeing a Black queen, be empowered by seeing Lady Danbury as a Black woman, Simon as a Black man, and hundreds and thousands working behind us, you know, of people of color.
As Golda Rosheuvel noted, Queen Charlotte is only one of several major characters portrayed by a person of color, mentioning Regé-Jean Page's Simon, Duke of Hastings, and Adjoa Andoh's Lady Danbury as well. These are three key characters holding some of the highest ranks of the whole cast. In fact, Simon's title will make him London's most eligible bachelor in Bridgerton, whether he likes it or not. Having seen the first season, I think it's safe to say that viewers are going to love it, even if Simon himself might not be thrilled.
Bridgerton casting people of color for some of the most important characters already has people talking, and Golda Rosheuvel explained why these castings were important:
We're living in 2020 coming into 2021. And we need to as an industry, and I say that across the board, working in theater, film, and television, shows need to now start reflecting the world that we are living in. We have modern audiences. And they should be seeing themselves reflected in theater, television, and film. I think that's a must. And that is the joy of working with Shondaland. They are the champions of reflection and diversity. You know, reflection of the world that we're living in at the moment. And, yeah, I'm so honored to be a part of it.
The wait for Bridgerton to debut with Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte is nearly at an end, as all eight episodes of the series will premiere on Friday, December 25 at 12:01 a.m. PT on Netflix. What better way to celebrate the holidays than binge-watching a new take on 19th century Regency London, packed with scandal, twists, and developments? Throw in the gorgeous costumes and locations, and Bridgerton can be downright addictive to watch.