Queen Charlotte Star Arsema Thomas On Playing The Young Lady Danbury
‘Queen Charlotte’ Star Arsema Thomas On Playing The Young Lady Danbury
The star of Queen Charlotte on how she took inspiration from her mother and grandmother in crafting the compelling character.
In a series full of stellar performances and fabulous characters, Arsema Thomas still manages to steal the show as Young Lady Danbury in Queen Charlotte.
The series, which is told in two timelines, offers fans of Bridgerton a better understanding of some of the characters we’ve come to know and love. There’s the titular Queen Charlotte played by Golda Rosheuvel and India Amarteifio, Violet Bridergton played by Ruth Gemmell and Connie Jenkins-Greig, and, of course, the indomitable Lady Agatha Danbury played by Adjoa Andoh and Thomas.
As we’ve come to know Lady Danbury, she’s an unstoppable force on The Ton; well connected, wealthy, and powerful. But as audiences learn in Queen Charlotte, the road to becoming that version of Lady Danbury was not an easy one — which was an aspect of the character that spoke to Arsema.
Watch PRIDE’s full interview with Arsema Thomas below.
“I think we have a lot of role models, and we don’t know how they became role models. And Lady Danbury is one of those people where you’re like, I want to be her. But you’re like, how does one get there?” she tells PRIDE. “You assume that she’s been like this from childhood, but to see that she wasn’t and it’s the active choices she makes in her twenties to get her to where she is. [And to do it during the] Regency era is, I think, extremely encouraging.”
As for where she looked for role models to help inform her character, there was of course the writing of creator Shonda Rhimes, but Arsema also found inspiration much closer to home.
Courtesy of Netflix
“I talked to my mother about what it was like for her because she grew up in Ethiopia when it was under a communist regime. To discuss with her about what it’s like to be a girl in that type of scenario, because I’m privileged enough, where I’ve never been uncomfortable really — besides, you know, the effects of racism and sexism,” Thomas shares with a laugh.
But that’s not all: She also turned to her grandmother for input on the character, particularly when it comes to her marriage to the much older Lord Danbury. “I talked to my grandmother because she had been in an arranged marriage herself when she was seven years old, and to discuss with her how she doesn’t hold any bitterness or anger towards that fact, but rather, sees it as her duty, immediately allowed me to empathize with how Agatha got to her situation,” she says.
Courtesy of Netflix
Those conversations help her to contextualize that relationship, and Agatha’s role and behavior in it instead of the modern lens she had been bringing to the role. “I was almost frustrated. I’m like, ‘Girl, say something!’ And you see her and she kind of takes it and takes it. And I realize it’s not because she’s angry or bitter. It’s the fact that she did not know that there was another option. She’s never been given that other option,” says Thomas. “And so, to be able to understand the mindset of a woman prior to getting her freedom, and after I really had to call upon the women in my life.”
Thankfully, that’s just the beginning of Agatha’s story — and of her troubles. But there’s a reason she goes on to be who we know her to become and Arsema perfectly embodies that courageous spirit in Queen Charlotte.