Bridgerton breakout star Charithra Chandran is getting extremely candid on the issue of colorism and the discrimination she faced as a dark-skinned South Asian woman, even from her own family.
“No one let me forget that I was dark-skinned growing up,” she said in an interview with Teen Vogue. “My grandma was very light-skinned. Whenever we’d go around in India, they’d always say, ‘Oh, you’d be pretty if you had your grandmother’s coloring.’ ‘Shame about the color of her skin.’ ‘She’s pretty for being dark-skinned.’ All of these comments, all the time.”
Chandran, who portrays Edwina Sharma on the show, reveals she is trying to learn the biases that she’s endured and internalized from her upbringing.
“When the sun is shining and I tan, my instinct is like, ‘oh f*ck, I tanned.’ I’m trying to unlearn it,” Chandran said. “It’s going to be a lifelong struggle. Or like when I’m editing a photo for Instagram, of course the temptations are there, because for most of my life I’ve been taught that that’s what is beautiful. It’s really, really traumatizing. I just desperately don’t want that for my cousins. I just pray, pray, pray that it’s not like that for them.”
Despite her success in television, Chandran was very candid about her present-day experiences with colorism from other South Asians.
“For me, colorism in some ways is more painful because it feels like a betrayal of your own,” adding that it seems to be everywhere she goes — especially in the marketing of so-called “natural” products in Indian grocery stores. “They always hide it under like, ‘it makes you glow,’ ‘brightens,’” she explained. “[But] it’s all synonyms for lighter. So I never, ever was able to forget that I was darker-skinned.”
This isn't the first time she's talked about racism and colorism in terms of landing the role.
In another with Telegraph, Chandran disclosed the reactions to her being cast.
“I’ve even had friends say to me, ‘Oh you got that because you’re brown,’ and that really hurts,” she shared. “What’s really scary is that you can start believing it and thinking, ‘The only reason I got cast as Edwina is because they were looking for an Indian family.'” Her friends assumed there was a quota on diversity that had to be filled.
She also wants to use her platform to bring awareness to colorism.
“I remember strangers saying, ‘You would be pretty if you were light-skinned like your grandmother,’ and like, trying to blame my granddad for giving me my skin colour,” Chandran said. “Being a person of color, we’re not unitary, we’re not one thing. There are so many different communities within that umbrella term. We should be more specific about making sure we’re representing different groups of people.” Chandran continued: “I would love to see more crew who are Black and Brown. I think that’s really important. We should be careful about just sort of window dressing.”