Charithra Chandran Reflects on the ‘Burden of Representation’ That Came with ‘Bridgerton’ Role

As a Tamil Indian born in Perth, Scotland, raised partially in Tamil Nadu, then educated in Liverpool and Oxford, Charithra Chandran knows a thing or two about juggling multiple identities. In many regards, it’s become a strength as proven by her breakout role as scene-stealer Edwina Sharpe on the uniquely diverse period romance “Bridgerton”. But despite the role thrusting her into the spotlight, the role has come with some unexpected drawbacks for the actress.

In a recent interview with Deadline, Chandran opened up about the difficulties of working in what she sees as an industry that tries to box artists into being one thing and forces people of color to compete for space.

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“You’re so focused on fighting your own that you become distracted from the people doing the oppressing,” Chandran said. “The oppressors have imposed the idea that there’s only one seat at the table, when what other people of color are doing is just pulling up more chairs.”

Chandran has still enjoyed some further successes in spite of the challenges she faces. She recently made her West End debut in the one-woman show on grief, “Instructions for a Teenage Armageddon”, and earlier this month, Prime Video dropped the teen rom-com, “How To Date Billy Walsh”, a film that features Chandran in her first lead role.

“I learned so much from that film about the leadership aspect of being on the top of the call sheet,” she said. “It will always be so dear to me because it was my first ever film. I think as I get older there are fewer and fewer opportunities where I get to play and do a film like that [in which she plays a teenager].”

Chandran understands that taking on more leadership roles will be key to avoiding the pitfalls many women of color in entertainment face.

“I think that is the burden of representation, right? It’s so scarce that you’re expected to represent everybody in your community as opposed to just being an individual,” she said. “The goal is that representation is so nuanced and so consistent that no one individual portrayal has that burden, but while I have it, it’s a really important responsibility that I take seriously.”

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