Bridgerton star Simone Ashley opened up about her experiences with colorism in the entertainment industry and the importance of representation for the December issue of British Vogue.
“I didn’t have the traditional entry into this industry that a lot of my white peers had, that of being a thespian, and I’ve always found that a bit isolating. But, I don’t want the color of my skin to ever stop me,” she said of the initial hurdles she encountered at the start of her career.
“I’m sure it was restrictive, things have taken me longer than other young actors who maybe don’t have the same restrictions. But, I never surrendered to it,” she said of the assumed role skin tone-based discrimination has played in her career.
Ashley grew up with South Indian Tamil parents and recalls being made aware of her darker skin complexion from a very young age.
“I remember being a kid and people saying certain things that make you really aware of the color of your skin,” she said, citing a youthful ignorance that shielded her from the realities of skin-bleaching practices.
“I remember seeing those Fair & Lovely [lightening] creams – they smelt so good, like baby powder, but I didn’t understand what they were. Now I’m like, ‘Wow. That’s messed up,’” she said.
Despite the preferential treatment of lighter skin tones that followed Simone from her youth to now, she says she has always held a deep appreciation for her complexion.
“But, I adore the color of my skin. I always have,” she said.
She also credits her team of hair and makeup artists who ensure her skin and mane needs are met in the same way they would be for other talent.
“I get emotional talking about this. They understand my skin and the texture of my hair, and when getting ready for events, we find the joy within it,” she said. This goes beyond the surface for Simone who says this representation is crucial for adequate representation. “And it’s not a superficial thing – it’s about normalizing dark skin and curly hair for girls who need to see that normalized,” she said, adding that a beauty line may be on the horizon.
“I want them to be like, ‘Yes, I’ve got exactly the right products for me,’” she said.
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