In 2019, Chandran had just graduated with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University, and had a job at a top management consultancy firm in London waiting for her. Although it seemed she was all set, the Scotland-born, Oxford-raised actress couldn’t shake the feeling of purpose that being a part of her university’s theatre scene had given her.
“I’d do more plays and rehearsals than studying, like one every month,” says Chandran, who is now based in the British capital. “It was the best time of my life. I met the most wonderful, creative, open-minded people and it was where I was most happy, but in the back of my mind, I never thought it was a possibility for me to do it as a job.”
Taking a gap year before settling into an 80-hour a week job, Chandran decided to get acting out of her system by performing in plays and short films for a while. Then the pandemic happened – a risky time to sack off a lucrative job in favour of following your dreams, but the gamble has paid off.
“I was living my dream [over that period],” she continues. “I thought, you know what? Why don’t I just do this rather than what other people expect of me? So I cold-called people, emailed different agencies, sent off my shitty showreels and CV.” This head-first approach worked. A few months later, Chandran landed a role in British spy-drama Alex Rider, and then came Bridgerton – only one of the biggest, most scandalous shows in the stream-a-sphere.
As for the corporate job she left behind? “I compare it to having a partner,” she says. “Once you find one that you love, you realise that you didn’t really love any of your exes. They pale in comparison. That’s how I felt about acting, and I could never imagine going back.”
Many viewers were devastated to hear that Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), whose red hot storyline with Daphne (Phoebe Dyvenor) sent our collective heads spinning, wouldn’t be returning for the show’s second instalment. But the Sharma family have more than what it takes to pick up where they left off, promising to bring plenty of drama to Bridgerton’s ensemble cast of not-so-well-to-do, gossip-hungry characters.
Taking the lead will be Sex Education’s Simone Ashley, who plays Edwina’s no-nonsense big sister Kate Sharma – and, if the books and teasers are anything to go by, will be letting potential suitor Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) in on a few romantic home truths.
Meanwhile, Shelley Conn takes on the role of matriarch Mary Sharma, while Chandran’s Edwina promises to be “full of surprises”, as the actress puts it. “She goes on the biggest journey of any of the characters in the show – she’s a kind and warm young girl that you get to see become a woman.
“I felt a real responsibility because a lot of girls are in her position – bred to marry, whose existence is shaped in relation to a man,” Chandran continues. “Edwina shows that you can take control of your life and be so much more than what people expect of you. I hope she resonates and connects with people, so that they can see themselves in her.”
For Chandran, the best part of the job is providing entertainment and most importantly, joy. “My co-star Jonathan Bailey describes Bridgerton as a carnival of joy. It takes you out of your life, puts you in an alternate universe. And a lot of shit goes down.” Subverted romantic norms, salacious gossip, hot sex and unfiltered escapism? We’re in for a treat.