WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD ISSUE 18
Words by Shaday Stewart
Charithra Chandran has always had a fascination with the nuances of human behavior, but she never expected to explore the ways of the world from in front of a camera. Three years ago, the 24-year-old British Indian actress was a fresh college grad with a job lined up at a management consultancy firm. These days, Chandran is on the verge of TV stardom as she takes on the role of bright-eyed debutante Edwina Sharma, in season two of Netflix's hit period drama "Bridgerton."
"I've been very lucky to say that for all of 2021, I was working," says Chandran, "which as an actor is like, 'Oh my God, I'm so grateful.'" Although "Bridgerton" isn't Chandran's first on-screen appearance, the Emmy Award-winning show produced by Shondaland is her biggest role to date. And, by golly, with its fervent global audience, gloss-and-glam visual aesthetic, and refreshingly multicultural cast, the beloved drama is a larger-than-life opportunity for Chandran to show her acting chops to the world.
"One of the reasons I really wanted to do this part is because I thought it would be a bloody challenge, because I'm nothing like her [Edwina]. I'd like to think that I'm generous, and I think Edwina is the same. She is so giving, she's so generous with her heart. And I think in every other way, we're probably really, really different. I'm not very graceful and not very ladylike."
Thankfully, Chandran knows how to capture the courtly etiquette and always-on poise of the Regency era on screen. Her character Edwina enters scandalous, gossip-laden London society as a winsome belle of the ball who's optimistic about finding a love match. She stars alongside Simone Ashley ("Sex Education") as Kate, the more skeptical and headstrong older sister who hopes to protect her sibling from being charmed by ill-intentioned suitors.
Charithra may not envision herself as a paragon of elegance like the well-mannered ladies of "Bridgerton," but much like the characters, she knows a thing or two about taking control of her own destiny. After graduating from college, Chandran took a break from her career plans and started cold-calling agents and casting directors. You wouldn't know it by her confidence and on-screen presence, but the rising actress didn't dream of working as a professional entertainer. "For me, it was as ridiculous as being Prime Minister. I mean, how does one become an actor?"
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EARRINGS BY LE STUDIOS
For Chandran, it was a combination of lifelong enthusiasm and a well-timed leap of faith. As an only child, she was always good at keeping herself busy. The Scotland-born actress moved to Southern India as a toddler and then returned to the United Kingdom a few years later, eventually attending a boarding school at age six. "I've been performing since I was young. I was that annoying child who would put on plays and make everyone watch. I was always acting and doing some sort of silly dancers or whatever."
As a teen and college student, Chandran continued to hone her acting alongside her studies, even training at the National Youth Theatre. When Chandran realized she was spending more time rehearsing than studying, she was convinced that it was time to give a full-on acting career a shot. In 2021, she made her TV debut in the Amazon Prime spy drama "Alex Rider" as Sabina Pleasance and soon nabbed roles in the upcoming series "Pillow Talk" and short films, "Good Intentions" and "The Talents."
Now that Chandran has landed this coveted role, there are sure to be even bigger breaks ahead. As for season two of "Bridgerton," fans will enjoy seeing how Edwina's guileless nature feeds into the show's sensational plot twists; but Chandran has a more upbeat take on Edwina's buoyant personality. "The one thing that I am jealous of in my character is that she really chooses to trust people. I think that takes a lot of courage. People could perceive that as naivety or immaturity, but no, I think that is bravery because she's making a choice. She's saying: I would rather see people like this. I would rather see people for the best versions of themselves and trust that. I wish I was more like that."
To be fair, Chandran has plenty of impressive achievements under her belt as well. In 2020, she and a friend started a local food bank, Cutteslowe Community Larder, in Oxford. The volunteer-run organization works to combat food insecurity, and it also provided support services for elderly citizens who were isolated during the pandemic. "It was also a place where people cared about food waste," says Chandran. "The way that it worked was we would…get food from various supermarkets, just because it's cheaper to dump things than to build warehouses and stock them, which is obscene."
Chandran's passion for uplifting the community isn't just a pandemic-induced detour. Before the actress made a daring foray into entertainment, she had plans to work in public policy. In 2019, Chandran graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE), a well-known interdisciplinary program designed to examine social issues from many angles. "Even to this day, those are the topics that really interest me intellectually the most. They're a study of people in different ways, or they're a study of life, existence. And I think those are the most important questions. I'm so lucky and so grateful that I got to experience that education." In 2020, Chandran also began work as a Research Analyst at the New Policy Institute, focusing on topics such as racial equality and economic justice. So, no matter what TV and film roles come up in her future, you can expect to see this multifaceted young woman driving change off the screen as well.
COAT BY JW ANDERSON
BRALET BY SIMONE ROCHA
SKIRT BY SIMONE ROCHA
SHOES BY LOUIS VUITTON
EARRINGS BY OTIUMBERG
Chandan’s passion for uplifting the community isn’t just a pandemic-induced detour. Before the actress made a daring foray into entertainment, she had plans to work in public policy. In 2019, Chandan graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PPE), a well-known interdisciplinary program designed to examine social issues from many angles. “Even to this day, those are the topics that really interest me intellectually the most. They're a study of people in different ways, or they're a study of life, existence. And I think those are the most important questions. I'm so lucky and so grateful that I got to experience that education.”
In 2020, Chandan also began work as a Research Analyst at the New Policy Institute, focusing on topics such as racial equality and economic justice. So, no matter what TV and film roles come up in her future, you can expect to see this multifaceted young woman driving change off the screen as well.
Photographer Daniel Benson
Photo Assistant - Jack Kenyon,Tom Lombard
Styling Luci Ellis.
Hair Patrick Wilson.
Makeup Kenneth Soh