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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

The pendulum swings

The smashing success of Netflix’s Bridgerton has ushered in a new era of multiracial casting in Regency costume dramas. This is good news, not least because it means that a British actor as good as Zawe Ashton can play an Emma-esque supporting role in last summer’s uneven Regency romcom Mr. Malcolm’s List and steal the movie right out from under the nose of its insipid lead.

Turns out we’ve got another reason to like Ashton: According to an interview earlier this year with the glossy British magazine Tatler, Ashton is a longtime Austen lover. Her Janeite tastes are both unconventional (“I’m not really a Pride and Prejudice girl” – Mr. Darcy is “too austere”) and unimpeachable: a special fondness for Persuasion, a love of Clueless. She further proves her bona fides by acing an Austen trivia question – albeit a painfully easy one -- on the accompanying “Tea with Tatler” video quiz.

As a young, aspiring Black actor who loved Austen, Ashton never expected to star in those stories, she tells the magazine. “You just accept the status quo. There’s this very strange acceptance that is definitely tinged with sadness,” she says. “You don’t necessarily realize how long you’ve been locked out until you see the pendulum swing.”

Lucky for all of us that it has. Now I’m holding out for the Zawe Ashton Pride and Prejudice.

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