Arséma Thomas, Lady Danbury in “Queen Charlotte,” says the role empowered her

Arséma Thomas, who portrays a younger version of Lady Agatha Danbury in the show “Queen Charlotte,” describes her position in the new series “Bridgerton” as “emotional reparations.” Thomas says that starring in the Regency-era drama provided an opportunity for her to address the oppression of Black women while also allowing them to reclaim their power in the Shonda Rhimes prequel spinoff, which centers on Queen Charlotte’s marriage to King George III and her early days as the first Black queen of England. The story follows Queen Charlotte’s early days as the first Black queen of England.

Thomas tells TODAY.com that “it’s such a complex situation yet also… it’s tied so simply to misogynoir.” She is referring to the sort of sexism that Black women endure in which their race and gender are overlapping forms of oppression. “It’s such a complex situation yet also… it’s tied so simply to misogynoir,” Thomas says. “Black women and their relationship to the world around them is so very different,” she continues. “One, because of prejudice against black people. But in addition to that… there’s the misogyny that underlies it all. Thomas claims that despite the presence of such repressive mechanisms, her character still manages to put up a fight in the story. According to the actor, Lady Danbury is a woman who goes against social norms because she fights for her own place in society and chooses not to remarry once her husband, Lord Danbury, passes away. According to Thomas, this action on the part of her character not only challenges the established quo but also demonstrates that she has agency.

“To be able to play this character, who essentially voluntarily wants to be alone, turns down men, turns down the ‘stability and security’ that a relationship would give during that time, and says, ‘I would rather be alone and take that risk,’ is something that is so liberating and hopefully encouraging to people,” she says. The actress, who was born in the United States but whose parents are from Nigeria and Ethiopia, expressed her hope that the acts of Lady Danbury will send a message to other women, particularly African-American women, “that they are able to do that, as well know that they can stand on their own.” Thomas tells TODAY.com that she felt empowered by emulating her persona just by repeating Rhimes’ writing. She claims that she recognized herself in the speaker in several of the lines and thought, “I have felt this before, and I just didn’t have the words.”  According to Thomas, it’s “highly important” for these scenes to be portrayed on TV because they allow Black women to be themselves while discussing problems that are meaningful to them. To be able to cover so much ground in the Black woman’s experience. As Thomas puts it, “I believe for a lot of us the idea that we’re all gathered into a monolith, yet we’re all so distinct. “It’s beautiful to be able to see that,” she says.

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