Netflix Casts Simone Ashley as Female Lead for Season 2 of Bridgerton

Bridgerton has found its next leading lady!

Netflix has cast Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, the eldest Bridgerton sibling's love interest, in season 2 of the period drama, PEOPLE confirms.

Kate's official character description reads: "Newly arrived in London, Kate is a smart, headstrong young woman who suffers no fools—Anthony Bridgerton very much included."

The second season — which is scheduled to begin production this spring in London — will draw from the sequel in Julia Quinn's romance series, The Viscount Who Loved Me, which follows the quest of Lord Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) to find his viscountess. 

In the novel, Ashley's character is named Kate Sheffield. However, the show's creative team previously decided her family would be of Indian descent and changed her surname, Deadline reported.

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Creator and showrunner Chris Van Dusen and executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers chose to cast several of the leading roles, who are white in the novels, as Black characters, including the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page), Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) and Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel).

Last week, Bailey teased that the second season is going to be just as "brilliant" as the first. 

"Well, I feel like the campy, plush spectacle of the Bridgerton world is only going to get more pronounced in the best way possible," Bailey, 32, said in an interview with British Vogue. "It's mad, and it's brilliant. There are also going to be a lot of brilliant characters introduced in this series — and it's not just Anthony that we're going to delve into."

"The robust universe that's been set up by Shonda [Rhimes] and Chris [Van Dusen] will just expand and keep pushing boundaries in a way that's quietly subversive," he continued. "There's just going to be more of what everyone loves, I think."

Ashley, 25, is best known for her role as Olivia Hanan on the Netflix dramedy series Sex Education. The actress shared Deadline's announcement of her casting on her Instagram Story Monday.

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