'Bridgerton' Season 2 Casts Simone Ashley As Its New Leading Lady

It's a truth universally acknowledged that Bridgerton must stock up on its share of leading ladies. How else will you keep up with the necessary amount of fluttering eyelashes and heaving bosoms for the second season of the hit Netflix period romance series? And now Bridgerton has found its latest female lead with Sex Education's Simone Ashley, who will play new character Kate Sharma.

Netflix announced that Simone Ashley (Sex Education, Because the Night) has been tapped as the female lead in Bridgerton season 2, playing the new romantic interest for the eldest Bridgerton sibling, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey). The second season of the hit Netflix period romance series is set to adapt the second book in Julia Quinn's romance series, The Viscount Who Loved Me, which chronicles Anthony's pursuit of a suitable marriage.

Ashley will play Kate Sharma, a new arrival in London who "is a smart, headstrong young woman who suffers no fools — Anthony Bridgerton very much included."

The second season will shake things up a little, as Bailey and Ashley take over as the series leads from Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor, who played Simon and Daphne, respectively, the couple at the center of the sizzling romance from season 1.

Like the first season, season 2 of Bridgerton will continue the show's trend of color-blind casting, with Kate and her family reimagined as being of Indian descent (she was originally named Kate Sheffield in Quinn's novel). Ashley, best known for her role as Olivia Hanan in Netflix's Sex Education, will be one of new cast additions to season 2, which starts filming in London this spring.

"We have a bunch of new characters we are going to be introducing," creator and showrunner Chris Van Dusen said at the announcement of the season 2 renewal last month. "Anthony is going to have a love interest next season, and I think it's going to be as sweeping and moving and as beautiful as viewers of the first season have come to expect from the show."

That's a "sweeping" romance that Bridgerton's millions of fans will likely anticipate breathlessly — the show was reportedly Netflix's biggest ever series, with 82 million households globally watching the first season (partially or in its entirety) in the first four weeks.

Bridgerton, which comes from Shondaland's Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, also stars Nicola Coughlan, Claudia Jessie, Ruby Barker, Luke Thompson, Luke Newton, Ruby Stokes, Will Tilston, Florence Hunt, Ruth Gemmell, Bessie Carter, Harriet Cains, Polly Walker, Ben Miller, Sabrina Bartlett, Martins Imhangbe, Kathryn Drysdale, and Lorraine Ashbourne.