'Bridgerton' Casts Simone Ashley as Anthony's Main Love Interest for Season 2

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Simone Ashley in Sex Education
Netflix

Anthony Bridgerton is about to meet his match.

Bridgerton has tapped Simone Ashley as the female lead opposite Jonathan Bailey in season 2 of Netflix's breakout Regency hit, ET confirms. Ashley and Bailey both confirmed the casting on their Instagram stories Monday. 

The upcoming season, which begins production this spring in London, follows the eldest Bridgerton, Anthony, as he "intends to dominate the social season." Loosely based on Julia Quinn's best-selling second novel in the Bridgerton series, The Viscount Who Loved Me, season 2 will chart Anthony's quest to find a wife.

Ashley will play Kate Sharma, who is newly arrived in London, and is described as "a smart, headstrong young woman who suffers no fools -- Anthony Bridgerton very much included." Her character is a reimagining of Anthony's main love interest from the book, Kate Sheffield, who holds similar qualities. It is unclear whether other major characters featured in Quinn's novel, such as Kate's younger sister Edwina or her mother Mary, will also be reimagined.

According to Deadline, who first reported the casting news, the Bridgerton creative team -- led by showrunner Chris Van Dusen -- conceived the Sharma family to be of Indian descent. This marks a continued push by the producers and writers for inclusivity and diversity amongst its cast featured in the fictional world of 1800s London society. Breakout star Rege-Jean Page, who makes his Saturday Night Live hosting debut this weekend, made a splash as the Duke of Hastings, along with fellow Black co-stars Golda Rosheuvel (Queen Charlotte) and Adjoa Andoh (Lady Danbury).

Seeds were planted all throughout season 1 about Anthony's journey ahead (see: mentions of bees, tulips and the family's summer home Aubrey Hall), but most notably in the finale, when Anthony declared he was ready to find a new viscountess after being painfully rejected by opera singer Siena (Sabrina Bartlett).

Bailey recently spoke with ET to offer a preview of what's to come for Anthony on his road to find love.

“It’s just going to get more exciting and convoluted and sexier, I think,” the actor said, adding the series will surely “be pushing boundaries every single way" and "that the story is going to be really exciting.”

“I think Chris Van Dusen has got this amazing ability to take Julia Quinn’s extraordinary books and her amazing worlds that she delicately filled with excitement and sexiness. And he takes it to a whole other level,” Bailey said, when asked how much the new season will parallel the narrative in the books. “So the fact that we’re following Anthony’s pursuit for love shows that you know there’s definitely going to be some similarities.”

Bailey played coy about whether fan-favorite character, Kate Sheffield, will be a major player in the new season, and now we know why. “Having read the second book, if Anthony gets to meet anyone half as brilliant as Kate Sheffield is, then he’s going to be a very lucky man," he said. 

For more, watch below.

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