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‘Queen Charlotte’ Star Arsema Thomas on Becoming ‘Badass’ Lady Danbury

[Spoiler Alert: The below contains spoilers from Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story Season 1.]

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story may have shined a light on an earlier chapter in the titular monarch’s life, but it also brought to the forefront Lady Danbury’s (Arsema Thomas) story, one that, up until now, has been shrouded in mystery in the flagship Bridgerton series.

And while this series sees Lady Danbury fight for her family’s titles, social status, and more, one thing seems unchanged and that’s the tenacity with which she approaches challenges. “She is so cool, so badass,” Thomas gushes of her character. She portrays the younger version of Lady Danbury (who is still played in the Regency Era by Adjoa Andoh).

The difference in this show, Thomas points out, is that Lady Danbury doesn’t know she’s that badass quite yet. “You realize that [she doesn’t] think that about [herself]. [She’s] just trying to hide her vulnerabilities and insecurities just like the rest of us,” Thomas notes. “And so it was extremely relieving to be able to delve into all of the dimensions that make this really powerful woman powerful.”

(Credit: Nick Wall/Netflix)

Determined to make the most of The Crown’s match between Charlotte (India Amarteifio) and King George (Corey Mylchreest), Lady Danbury sees an open door for her family and community members that had previously been shut out of the Ton, but it isn’t without determination and some frustration that her vision becomes a reality.

“She starts out almost on the completely different end of the spectrum,” says Thomas of Lady Danbury’s status when the show begins ranging to where she ends up. “It means that those steps are possible and attainable for all of us if we want it. It felt like a step-by-step guide, like color by numbers of how to be cool.”

We see Lady Danbury’s confidence and position solidify as her bond with Queen Charlotte grows, which is also reflected in the actress’s bond with costar Amarteifio. “It’s so rare that you make friends on a set, but during our chemistry read, it was immediate chemistry,” Thomas raves. “I feel so protective over her, and I think that’s what Lady Danbury is feeling, this protectiveness over everybody in the Ton that is not white. And to be able to kind of support such an impactful story and to have the visual cues of two Black women being friends, I think, is quite revolutionary.”

Arsema Thomas in 'Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story'

(Credit: Nick Wall/Netflix)

Thomas wants to make it clear that “I don’t use that term lightly. This is something that I think goes against white supremacy and the patriarchy. To have a double whammy in a show on Netflix just shows us the directionality that I think we’re all heading with storytelling.”

Along with seeing Lady Danbury’s life before Bridgerton — which included a husband and children — we also learn more about where she comes from, Sierra Leone, specifically. She is a descendant of royal blood in her own right, similar to Charlotte who hails from Germany. “It’s this beautiful backstory to support all of this confidence, this sense of self,” Thomas says. “It’s amazing because you see that she is powerful and valuable in her own right. The value is in her head. She knows how much she is worth and she never lets anybody question it.”

It’s a trait that has clearly served her well in the years between Queen Charlotte and Bridgerton, which is seen through flashforwards to the Regency Era in this spinoff. Part of Lady Danbury’s confidence, Thomas says, “comes from a background where you were told that you are special, that you are a queen. And I think for a lot of racialized people, that doesn’t happen so often. And so there is something quite therapeutic about playing somebody who’s always had that sense of self.”

And rest assured, if Lady Danbury is one thing, she is self-assured, and we love her for it.

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, Streaming now, Netflix

This story originally appeared on TV Insider

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