Netflix‘s period drama Bridgerton has captured audiences everywhere thanks to its storytelling that mixes a bit of Downton Abbey with Gossip Girl. British-Guyanese actor Golda Rosheuvel plays Queen Charlotte, and though she’s not a part of the titular Bridgerton family, she steals the show in every scene she’s in.
‘Bridgerton’ is Netflix’s biggest show ever
It may be hard to believe that a show that takes place in 19th-century England would be Netflix’s biggest series ever, but that’s exactly what Bridgerton accomplished in just a few short weeks after its premiere in December 2020.
According to CNN, 82 million households tuned in to the show in just the first 28 days it was available for streaming.
The show features several young British actors, as well as some veterans of the stage and screen, including Rosheuvel. Perhaps one of the series’ biggest draws is one character who never appears on screen: Lady Whistledown, the series’ sharp-tongued narrator, is played by Dame Julie Andrews.
Golda Rosheuvel plays TV’s first Black Queen of England
Bridgerton differs from every other period drama set in England in that Black actors play several royal and aristocratic figures. This isn’t a complete historical inaccuracy, however: several British royals were rumored to have mixed-race heritage, and Queen Charlotte was noted at the time for having a wide nose, thick lips, and darker-than-pale skin.
Getting to play TV’s first Black British monarch was a moving experience for Rosheuvel, who told Insider that seeing more actors of color in period dramas was “long overdue.”
“It’s so empowering for an actress,” Rosheuvel said, “to have that background and that feeling that a person in the 1800s could have been fighting for her people and could have been fighting for representation.”
Golda Rosheuvel’s Queen Charlotte costume was cumbersome
Queen Charlotte was an undoubtedly regal figure, and Regency-era England was known for extravagant clothes and lifestyles. This often made life on set for Rosheuvel much harder than it needed to be.
“Peeing is quite difficult, yes,” Rosheuvel admitted in an interview on The Netflix Afterparty with David Spade, London Hughes, and Fortune Feimster. She wore a pannier, two skirts, and two corsets beneath Charlotte’s voluminous dresses. Getting into costume was an endeavor in itself: she told Insider that the wardrobe procees took between 45 minutes to an hour and required at least two people.
So whenever Rosheuvel needed a bathroom break, it was a whole production. “It takes about half an hour to go to the toilet,” she revealed. The huge wigs were also uncomfortable and often left her overheated by the end of the day: “At about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, your head starts steaming and it’s very hot under there and you can’t wait to get that sh*t off.”