‘Cruel Summer’: Who is Kate’s Stepsister, Ashley? Here’s Why She Looks So Familiar

When Freeform‘s Cruel Summer Episode 4 debuted, fans immediately wondered about Kate’s (Olivia Holt) stepsister, Ashley. Why does actor Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut look so familiar? In the series, why does she feel so guilty about what happened to her sister? Fans think there’s something she’s hiding.

Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut in 2019 before playing Ashley on Cruel Summer
Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut who portrays Ashley on ‘Cruel Summer’ | Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

‘Cruel Summer’ recap: Who is Kate’s stepsister, Ashley?

When Cruel Summer Episode 4 opened, Kate and her step-sister, Ashley, were cleaning shotguns for an upcoming hunting trip. However, this was the first time viewers met Ashley, and it was evident she did not like her step-sister. In 1993, Kate tells Ashley that she thought her father, Rod Wallis (Ben Cain), was cheating on Kate’s mother, Joy Wallis (Andrea Anders). 

Although Kate found out that he wasn’t cheating, Ashley scolds her for even suggesting such a thing. It would ruin her father’s name, and that’s something he couldn’t come back from. Ashley also tells Kate how privileged she is growing up white and that they will never have the sister relationship Kate is searching for.

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In 1994, the Cruel Summer‘s scenes between Ashley and Kate were strikingly different. Ashley apologized for being a “crappy sister” and leaving Kate “alone to fend for herself.” She also told Kate she had no idea that Mr. Harris began grooming Kate during last year’s hunting trip.  

In the last few minutes of the episode, viewers find out that Ashley was Bernice4 in the chat room. It seems like Kate shares a lot of information with this anonymous chat user. Ashley may know a lot more than anyone else about Kate’s truth on Cruel Summer.

Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut

There’s a reason you might recognize Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut after seeing her join the Cruel Summer cast as Ashley. She’s no stranger to acting; although she only came on the scene in 2015, the 28-year-old is very busy. 

She jumped into television with playing Officer Katherine Parks in an episode of Gotham. After one episode in The Mysteries of Laura, she picked up a recurring role on Homeland. From 2016 through 2017, Chestnut portrayed Simone Bah on the Showtime series.

‘Cruel Summer’: What’s Ashley hiding?

Viewers think that there’s something that Ashley might be alluding to with her story about Bernice IV in Cruel Summer.  

“How Ashley speaks about Berenice IV is almost in an empathetic way,” one fan wrote on Reddit. “‘She was invisible. Was a risk-taker. She was subversive.’ It was like she could relate to Berenice. Berenice killed to get to the throne she wanted, she loved the lavish life, even betrayed her family, but her family was the one that killed her in the end. The idea of Ashley liking Berenice is strengthened when we find out Ashley is, in fact, the user Berenice4 in the chatroom with Kate.”

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Other fans also wonder how much Ashley knows about Kate’s side of the story. Is she trying to get closer to her step-sister, or is there something more dubious about the secret chat name?

Cruel Summer airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on Freeform and is streaming on Hulu the next day.