Meet Charithra Chandran, The Diamond Of The Season!

“Charithra Chandran: If you’re gonna make money off of my people, you’re gonna pay my people, that’s the one thing I stand by all the time.

Check out our interview with this season’s diamond, Charithra Chandran! #Bridgerton

With the highly anticipated release of the second season of Bridgerton, we weren’t sure we’d be able to get a chance to speak with the cast. But Charithra Chandran who plays Edwina Sharma graciously set aside some time to sit down and chat with us about her work and how she became this season’s incomparable!

We talked about her background in politics, time in progress policy work and the career journey that brought her to our screens, so check out our chat below or check out our Patreon for exclusive access to the video of our full interview!

Charithra Chandran:
Hi there!

Keshav Kant:
Hey there! How’re you doing today?

Charithra Chandran:
Good. Thank you. How are you?

Keshav Kant:
I’m good as well! Just a quick intro for us:

Hi. I’m Keshav. I’m the Executive Director of Off Colour. We’re a nonprofit based in Toronto. But we operate across nine countries, five continents. Our focus is covering media culture and politics through a lens of race. Specifically talking about the experiences of Black folks and non-Black people of colour globally. That’s what that’s our spiel!

Charithra Chandran:
Amazing!

Keshav Kant:
Thank you. And obviously, I’ve done so much research on you, but I would love to hear you introduce yourself.

Charithra Chandran at the premiere of Bridgerton S.2
Charithra Chandran at the premiere of Bridgerton S.2

Charithra Chandran:
Right! Well, I’m Charithra Chandran. I’m currently playing Edwina Sharma on Bridgeton. I have a background in politics; I did philosophy, politics, economics at Uni. So, you know, I’m, I think one of the best things about having a platform, not that I would claim to have one, but is that you can have difficult conversations if you have the appropriate vocabulary to do so. And so, like, I think it’s quite exciting that we can sort of have these minds come together and discuss important topics.

Keshav Kant:
I agree. And I would say you have a platform. I’ve- I have friends and colleagues who will have like 1000 followers and 500 followers, and then I can confidently say they are far more intelligent and adept at having these conversations than I am. So it’s just a matter of how you use your access, right?

Charithra Chandran:
Absolutely!

Keshav Kant:
That’s one of the questions I have for you a little later. Because when I was looking into your background, I realized we’re both 25! I don’t know why I expected you to be older, considering everything you’ve done.

Charithra Chandran:
Oh, yeah. I’m taking that as a massive compliment because usually, I get the opposite comment of, like, I thought you were 16. So yeah.

Keshav Kant:
Yeah, it’s honestly, I think it’s the ‘Asian don’t raisin’ phenomenon where we will reach an age of maturity, and then we don’t age until we hit like 60.

Charithra Chandran:
And then we suddenly look like 100 years old at 60.

Keshav Kant:
Right! But yes, you’re 25, you are playing such a massive role in Bridgerton, but before that, you were working in social justice, specifically at a think tank that worked in progressive policy for market economy.

Charithra Chandran:
So, the New Policy Institute looked at various different areas of social policy. So that was focused on economic justice and health inequalities. And obviously, I was working there over during COVID period. So a lot of it was to do with COVID inequalities as well, and what communities are particularly affected by what aspects of COVID policy.

Keshav Kant:
And that’s interesting, because it’s such a, it’s such a significant shift. So how did you go from that to here? Like, was there- because I do know that you took part in some plays, growing up.

Charithra Chandran:
So I mean, I’ve always been performing. And I used to be a child actor when I was younger. And then, as I like, entered public exam years. I stopped doing the professional stuff, did just stuff at local theatre and schools and focused on academics. But I’ve always been acting. And it’s true, like on paper going from, you know, doing PPE and having a job at a management consultancy firm and working for a think tank. They all seem really different from acting. But like, I think that they all have this mean common thread, which is like, I love people.

I find people fascinating, even to this day, like, I love people watching. And I think that at its core, I mean you know, politics, and the field of philosophy is wide. Even though politics and economics have unfortunately been corrupted, but like, at the end of the day, it’s about the benefit of humankind, right? It’s about understanding human behaviour, and that’s what I think acting is about.

Keshav Kant:
I couldn’t agree more. I think that people have like this very black and white idea of what professionals look like, and what your career looks like if you have a 9 to 5. Because personally, I went from being on the medical path, I wanted to be a pediatrician, to working in tech to founding a nonprofit. And I don’t think my career path changed all that much. Because at the end of the day, all I wanted to do was help people, the way I’m helping people just shifted a little.

Charithra Chandran:
It’s yeah, it’s exactly that it’s like I, it’s my curiosity has always been the same, which is like a curiosity of people. It’s just how that’s manifested, has been different. And to have someone like me, who, you know, hasn’t been, you know, started professionally acting again, when they were 23, not 16. Um, and has had an unusual path. I think it confuses people a little.

Keshav Kant:
It does. But I think that’s also part of the wonderful thing about what you’re doing because it shows that you don’t need to just hold one role. You’re allowed to explore all facets of your identity.

Charithra Chandran:
Yeah, 100%.

L-R Charithra Chandran as Sabrina Pleasance and Otto Farrant in Alex Rider

Keshav Kant:
And like I, you went from, I was watching Alex Ryder, basically all over last week preparing for this interview, and then along with Bridgerton. And specifically talking about Bridgerton, because that’s what we’re here for.

Can I just say, I adore what you brought to Edwina? The agency you gave her compared to the book story. Can I ask what was that process of like, getting the casting call for Bridgerton? Because I heard that Edwina was initially supposed to be played by someone who was biracial; who was half white, half Asian.

Charithra Chandran:
Yeah, initially, I was auditioning for Kate and they just sort of said, you know, you don’t really look the part. Which is true. I don’t like the part! I look like a baby. And I was like, you know what? That’s fine, Bridgerton is going to be amazing. I’m going to love it when it comes out. Whatever Indian actress they cast will be wonderful. And I was starting on Alex Rider, so that was never the conversation for me to audition for Edwina because again, they were looking for someone mixed race.

And, and I actually think it was Ms. Shonda, who was just like, I think there is a power to making the diamond a dark-skinned woman, right? Like, you know, I think that there’s something so wonderful about that not being a speaking point.

These dark-skinned women, including Simone who plays the lead, existing in their entirety. Simone being able to find love, be lusted after. Edwina being considered the perfection of society, and them both being dark-skinned. That’s so powerful. We just don’t see that. Right? Like often, when people that look like me find love in Hollywood, it’s despite various factors, right? It’s despite this and despite that, where it’s like, no, it’s just, we exist and we’re allowed to just exist.

Keshav Kant:
It’s wonderful to hear that Shonda Rhimes shifted the narrative because we were talking about it on Off Colour’s podcast, of how cuz in the books, Edwina’s supposed to be the pretty sister, and then Kate’s… she just is. But you look at both you and Simone Ashley, you’re like, these are both beautiful women. And both of you being beautiful, dark-skinned women, it removes that plot point of the mixed-race girl being seen as better or the lighter-skinned woman being seen as better.

So that was a wonderful choice to make creatively. And you brought so much to the role, I can definitely see where they were like, You look too young.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Charithra Chandran as Edwina Sharma in episode 201 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022
Bridgerton. (L to R) Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Charithra Chandran as Edwina Sharma in episode 201 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022

Charithra Chandran:
I was- I was a bit scared about playing Edwina, to be honest, because I think, you know, Edwina is not front footed. She’s not like Eloise, or Kate, she’s not, she’s not, you know, she’s not an active participant for a lot of it. Right? She’s entirely reactionary for so much because that’s how she’s been brought up. That’s who she is. We shouldn’t criticize that. But I totally get it like from an audience perspective.

We love active, exciting people who were super confident and bold she and I was anxious about it playing Edwina because she’s just not those things. And in many ways, she’s kind of the embodiment of so many things women have like fought against for hundreds of years. So it was about in my head, it was about how do I- how do I firstly make this character authentic? And how do I bring- give her strength and power in her way?

Especially in like, sort of womanhood, which is a constantly growing and developing topic. There are so many different displays of strength and power. Right? And I was like, You know what, Edwina, strength and power come from her optimism. It comes from her ability to be so open-hearted, and, and her trust in people. And that’s who she is. It’s not the traditional archetype for a heroine these days. But it’s still a valid one, people can be quiet and can be passive and, you know, a little bit more gentle and still be super strong and own their power.

Keshav Kant:
And you brought that to life really well! Again, I’m just giving you flowers. There was there’s a line, you know, towards the end of the series, where Edwina is sitting down with Lady Danbury, and the rest, and Kate, and Anthony, interact and she (Edwina) says, “was I truly this blind?”. Seeing that shift going from Edwina who was so bright-eyed, so optimistic about finding a match to now this woman who is aware of the truth and has taken control of our own future? That was such a dramatic shift, but you did it so seamlessly? It was wonderful to see.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Charithra Chandran as Edwina Sharma, Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in episode 207 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022
Bridgerton. (L to R) Charithra Chandran as Edwina Sharma, Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton in episode 207 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022

Charithra Chandran:
Thank you. I also think you know, another important part was I wanted Edwina to still feel like Edwina, right? Like she’s not suddenly- she’s growing up and she’s becoming wise to things, but she’s not suddenly a different character. Right? She’s still not going to be like a Kate or an Eloise. She’s still who she is, but just a little bit bolder, more confident, a little bit more aware. So it was about making those kinds of realistic adjustments.

Keshav Kant:
And it definitely shows because there are these little moments peppered throughout the show where you can see Edwina not-not exactly chafe under Kate’s stewardship, but she wants to express herself- she does want all of these things as well. But she wants to go about them her own way.

Like when you know, Anthony, doesn’t propose the first time, you see her sort of crack. And you see her say “No, I’ve done all of these things. I’ve done them, well, why isn’t he proposing?”. You can see that she like these are things that she’s actually thinking about herself. It’s not just her being shepherded along.

Charithra Chandran:
Yeah, absolutely. And what I find is, it’s all about whose perspective you’re following, right? Like, we’re all humans, we’re all such complex beings with really varied emotions. And like, I always think back to this time, have you seen my best friend’s wedding with Julia Roberts?

Keshav Kant:
Of course, yes!

Charithra Chandran:
Such a classic, right? Like, the thing is, that is such a brilliant film because in any other film, Julia Roberts is the villain. She’s the bitch we all hate. Right? She’s trying to steal this sweet, fun-loving woman’s fiancee, right? But it’s all about perspective. I mean, what she does is so wrong, but it’s like, and of course, Julia Roberts is like the most charming, charismatic person on earth. So anyone fall in love with them, but it’s really about perspective.

So, you know, when the show came out on Friday, I was a bit disheartened because I got a lot of comments saying, Edwina’s so bratty and Edwina so unappreciative and cruel. And I just thought, that makes sense, right? Because we’re following Anthony and Kate’s perspective, this season of Bridgerton we’re following their journey.

But like when you’re an actor, and you’re rationalizing and understanding everyone’s- what your understanding your character’s decision making. You totally see where she’s coming from, right? She feels stifled. But like, that’s the thing. Stories are all about perspective. And we should- it’s taught me a big lesson in like having empathy for more people. Because we’re all justifying our behaviours in very different ways.

Keshav Kant:
Absolutely. Honestly, as the eldest sibling in a Brown household. I went into the show expecting to relate more to Kate and I did in some aspects. But like, again, as a queer person, as a trans-Indian person, I related more to Edwina because I was like, I have been playing. I was playing a role and when I was a teen when I started expressing myself, I was like, No, this I’m living for me. The choices I make, at the end of the day, as much as I adore my family, I have to live for myself. So I’ve definitely related more to Edwina and I can confidently say, you did a phenomenal job.

Charithra Chandran:
Thank you, again it’s just such a perspective thing, right? It’s like, who do we follow? Because in the same way that like Anthony’s shown as being this super sacrificing, family loving guy; I wonder if we got Benedict’s or Collin’s perspective, which obviously we will in future seasons, they will interpret it totally differently. And that doesn’t mean one’s right and the other’s wrong. Because again, we love to make things black and white, and like put them in a box. But humans are so much more complicated than that.

Keshav Kant:
Yes, it’s a thing that people need to sort of remind themselves that multiple truths can exist at once.

Charithra Chandran:
And I think especially in this political landscape. I really like it, it makes sense the way people reacted. But I wish it was a lesson more people learned, yeah.

Keshav Kant:
Yeah, I hope, my hope is that you know. Like, our writer, Meha, wrote our review and then contributors, Medha and Angel wrote a piece where they talked about the cultural relevances that were brought into the season. And then I personally have been on Tik Tok. I’ve made entirely too many videos, and a lot of people have been responding.

We’ve heard from a lot of people that after reading the articles where we discuss sort of the cultural nuances that happened with like, family dynamics, and you know, families of colour, they saw the show and Edwina and Kate’s relationship in a much different light.

Charithra Chandran:
Interesting.

Keshav Kant:
So I’m very excited. I’m very happy to see that people are willing to open like, you know, widen their perspective.

Charithra Chandran:
That’s brilliant. Keshav! I want to ask you a question, and I feel like you will answer me honestly. What did you think about the representation of Indian culture in it, and like, you can be totally honest with me.

Keshav Kant:
I went into the show as both a viewer and also like, as someone who works in the industry, I work as a creative consultant. My work involves consulting with filmmakers and writers on their projects, scripts and casting. So for me, I was actually very happy with the way they added Indian culture to the show because it’s not, we’re not getting realism. Bridgerton is a-

Charithra Chandran:
A fantasy!

Keshav Kant:
Yeah, it’s a fantasy! And we’re also living in a world where, you know, racism was solved by a wedding between the Royals. Which again in real life wouldn’t really happen. So the way they brought Indian cultures into the show was wonderful. The addition of using Didi all the time, which honestly, I will not lie, got me a little emotional. As soon as I heard like, Kate, as like, Simone came on scene and she was like, Baap re (a Hindi colloquialism for OMG), I was like, oh okay!

Charithra Chandran:
Yeah.

Keshav Kant:
And then the jewelry, like all jhumkas, was beautiful. And I especially loved the attention to detail because, and I’m going to get like very, very micro with it. There were accent differences in the way Lady Mary Sharma spoke and then the way you and Simone.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Shelley Conn as Mary Sharma, Charithra Chandran as Edwina Sharma, Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma in episode 206 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022
Bridgerton. (L to R) Shelley Conn as Mary Sharma, Charithra Chandran as Edwina Sharma, Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma in episode 206 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022

Charithra Chandran:
She was brought up in the UK.

Keshav Kant:
Exactly! And it was beautiful, that little attention to detail because I could hear my grandparents speak when I heard you both speak the way you pronounce your Ts. The Haldi ceremony happening and then to see that represented on screen. And it wasn’t, you know, a lot of times when shows talk about cultures of colour, they spoon feed it to a wide audience.

There wasn’t any of that but there was a conversation between family and how you as Edwina went to put Haldi on Kate’s face and to just be like Haldi the is supposed to help even unmarried people find true love. So, that was such a beautiful way to add those nuances to the story.

Charithra Chandran:
It’s really done for an Indian audience.

Keshav Kant:
Absolutely

Charithra Chandran:
Because 80% of the references non-Indians are not- or I should say non-Desis are not going to get, right?

Keshav Kant:
Oh definitely.

Charithra Chandran:
Non-Desis are not going to know Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, non-Desis are not going to know what jhumkas are, non-Desis are not going to know what are Indian prints and fabrics. Like the thing is. Sure, some of the things are to like reflect our culture, but it’s really done for an Indian eye.

Keshav Kant:
Oh absolutely.

Charithra Chandran:
Which amazing artisans. And like for me, I think that actually in the messed-up world we live in money is obviously the key currency right? And they, they gave money to like Indian people, the bathtubs in Episode Seven that you see Mary, Kate, and Edwina lying in, they got those from India.

Keshav Kant:
Wait, those are from India?

Charithra Chandran:
They- yes, they ship them over from India. So they went to East London and got lots of the fabrics. Like they put the money in the pockets of Desi people while creating this Desi world and that is all I can ask for. And that is all I asked for actually.

Keshav Kant:
But yeah, I mean, the main thing I asked for is that the difference between appropriating something and appreciating something is actually like the economic benefit.

Charithra Chandran:
Yes, you need to give money to Indian people or Desi people if you’re going to enjoy Desi culture, right? Enjoy it, but you give that money and I think that’s what the show tries to do as much as possible behind the scenes. And I might-

Keshav Kant:
Knowing that now I love this season even more, because- I believe, again, as you said, it’s wrong that we have to value money so much. But at the end of the day, the society we live in right now is, as beautiful as it is to see people shifting it. It’s important to speak with your dollar.

Charithra Chandran:
If you’re gonna make money off of my people, you’re gonna pay my people, that’s the one thing I stand by all the time.

Keshav Kant:
Exactly. And that’s honestly, it’s wonderful to hear, especially because you can see the other aspects. It’s clear they’ve put their money where their mouth is. Especially where it’s come in because all of the wigs that we see Bridgerton are beautifully done.

Bridgerton. (L to R) Charithra Chandran as Edwina Sharma, Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte in episode 206 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022
Bridgerton. (L to R) Charithra Chandran as Edwina Sharma, Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte in episode 206 of Bridgerton. Cr. Liam Daniel/Netflix © 2022

Charithra Chandran:
Yeah, there are, there are, there are Black artists, Brown artists, I mean, it’s amazing. And I think that you know, like, I’ve recently really got into using wigs from the show, like for all of my press looks, they were all wigs. And, you know, I think that when a show like Bridgeton, when it is multiracial, we have to really be sensitive to the fact that there is a community that really led this right? There is a community that are experts, and we should be seeking them and looking to them. When we’re using something that is so ingrained in their culture, like women wearing wigs, or people wearing wigs, I should say.

Keshav Kant:
Oh, boy, and that’s been something I’ve seen a shift in the industry at large. We’re gonna go on such a long tangent, and I’m so so thrilled that you are so happy to talk about this, but I just want to cover one, one thing that was really important to me.

You spoke about it a little bit about, you know, sort of the backlash you’ve dealt with playing Edwina. How have you been able to manage that backlash? What were some tools that you use to take care of your mental health, because that is really important. A lot of times people will forget that actors are also workers and your health is also a matter of workers’ rights.

Charithra Chandran:
I mean, I think I was a bit arrogant actually, like coming into Bridgeton. Johnny, who plays Anthony, kept telling me, like, you know, get a therapist, because it’s like going to the gym, you’ve got to protect yourself. You’ve got to work your brain, like go to work your mind, like you work your body out. And I just I am a very like, solid, grounded person. I went, Johnny, I’m fine, I’m fine.

And then, as we wrapped when we started like approaching launch, I was like, oh my god, I’m actually really struggling. Like, it’s not easy. And, um, getting a therapist over the last couple of months has been like one of the most beneficial things I’ve done. And you know, truthfully, my parents are a bit confused by it. They’re like, but you’re so fine. You’re not struggling with anything.

And for me, I really believe that everyone can benefit from therapy, and in a kind of utopian society, everyone would have access to therapy for free. And unfortunately, don’t have that. So for me, I would way rather have my one therapy session a week and prioritize that than so many other things. So therapy has really been the way that I have protected myself from all this.

I also think that I have wonderful family, friends, co-stars. I mean, as I said, Johnny has been such an angel. Golda who plays the Queen has been so wonderful. Shelley who plays Mary Sharma, we speak literally three times a day. So having wonderful people around you who make you remember what’s important. You know, I can’t ask for more. I have wonderful people in my life, and I’m so grateful.

Keshav Kant:
That’s wonderful to hear. I’ve – every interview I’ve done, I ask about physical and mental healthcare on stage and on screen because it’s such an important issue to me personally. And it’s also been wonderful to hear.

Charithra Chandran:
Yeah, but like Desi are, you know, I shouldn’t assume about your family but like that- my parents’ generation, there’s still a lot of stigma around it right? And if I can, if I can sort of help other brown people realize that there is nothing wrong it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you. It just means that you want to love and care for yourself, then this is something you can do if it’s accessible to you. And it’s not accessible to everyone.

Keshav Kant:
I agree. I’ve been seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist since Uni and it greatly helped. Because there’s also like the open conversations that you can have in your family. Like both of my parents are academics, but even then, they were like, “Why do you want this, it’ll be in your record?”. And I was like, no, I want to know, so I can get the proper tools to help myself.

Charithra Chandran:
You know, what’s interesting that I’ve like noticed a trend is that I saw a meme, or I saw something on Tik Tok, where I was like— sorry, tangent.

Keshav Kant:
Listen! The best interviews happen this way, but unfortunately, we have to wrap up. So I’m going to ask you one final thing. I heard through the Bridgerton grapevine that Simone and Jonathan are coming back. Kathani, and Anthony, are going to be back to screens. Will a certain Princess of Prussia be coming back? Can we see you in future seasons?

Charithra Chandran:
What I would say about that is, at the end of the day, is that Edwina is not a Bridgerton. And the show is about the Bridgeton family. So Kathani will be back because she is now Lady Bridgerton, and Edwina’s not. So Edwina exists in the Bridgerverse, but there are other stories, and that’s all I can say.

Keshav Kant:
Fair enough! It makes me a little sad because I want to see more. But I’m hoping that the Bridgerton spin-off that we’re doing for the Queen will get to see you in it.

Charithra Chandran:
Well, that is going to be sensational. All of the talent attached to that, you know, I hope it makes it big as well.

Keshav Kant:
Yes, honestly, when it drops, I’m emailing and asking is Charithra free for a Bridgerton round table? But thank you so much for taking the time today. I appreciate it!

Charithra Chandran:
It’s lovely to meet you, have a lovely day!

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Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!

You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.

+ posts

25-year-old trans, 2-spirit queer obsessed over media, what's new?

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