Zawe Ashton recalls facing ‘bullying, demeaning and gaslighting’ during career

Zawe Ashton (Luc Braquet/Tatler/PA)
Zawe Ashton (Luc Braquet/Tatler/PA)

Zawe Ashton has spoken about facing incidents of “bullying, demeaning and gaslighting” during her acting career.

The 38-year-old British star is best known for her role in comedy series Fresh Meat and stars in new Regency period drama Mr Malcolm’s List.

Ashton spoke to Tatler magazine about the difficulties she experienced getting a series commissioned and produced, saying: “There was just this weird resistance. And bullying. Bullying, demeaning, gaslighting.

“I was yelled at by one producer because I was questioning something about my own work.”

The project, which she said was similar to HBO’s Girls, eventually ended up in “development hell” and put on hold.

The London-born actress, who is engaged to Tom Hiddleston, also detailed the struggle of planning a pregnancy as an actress given the “mixed messaging” women in the industry receive.

“You’re told, ‘Don’t get pregnant’ but also ‘Don’t leave it too long’ because then you’re going to be an old maid,” she said.

“I’ve been prehistoric in this industry since I was 25. The mixed messaging is rough and has to be addressed.”

Ashton also recalled meeting Bridgerton star Rege-Jean Page on the set of Channel 4’s Fresh Meat before he found fame.

Zawe Ashton for the October issue of Tatler magazine (Luc Braquet/Tatler/PA)
Zawe Ashton for the October issue of Tatler magazine (Luc Braquet/Tatler/PA)

She said: “I could see he was committed, clear-eyed about what he wanted to do. And so I gave him my number.”

Shortly after, 34-year-old Page, who played the sought-after Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, in the first series of the raunchy Netflix period drama, texted Ashton to ask if she would write him a letter of recommendation for his American visa, which she agreed to do.

She added: “And then, 10 years later, I turned on Bridgerton and…”

Ashton also touched on her preference for privacy, saying: “I think it’s like any choice. You make it and then do it as much as you can.”

The October issue of Tatler is available on newsstands and via digital download from Thursday September 1.