Watching Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, it’s clear that the subject of race is approached differently from the original Bridgerton series, where Black people are intrinsic to and welcome in the aristocratic world. There’s a beauty in this, of course, and what a wonderful world it would be if, in reality, we all embraced each other in that way. However, in Queen Charlotte, Rhimes addresses racism more directly, which British Ghanaian Amarteifio applauds. “What’s great about Queen Charlotte is that Shonda Rhimes was not afraid to tackle some of the heavier questions in not only society but also the questions that came up and arose from people watching Bridgerton in the first place,” says Amarteifio. “Why is the ton [a colloquial term for members of high society] so diverse? Why are we not mentioning that?’ Well, we explore that in Queen Charlotte. Her marriage to King George III is referred to as the Great Experiment, devised to bring divided society together. And to coexist doesn’t not come with its own problems. The foundations of Bridgerton are so beautiful and so colourful in every way and was the escapism we needed at the time. It’s refreshing sometimes to just watch something and go, ‘Yeah, I just see myself in this, and I don’t want to think about it too much.’ But Queen Charlotte was needed to give Bridgerton its backstories.”
As Amarteifio shines as the Queen of England and Halle Bailey transforms into Ariel in the live-action film The Little Mermaid, young Black people are going to see themselves represented in unprecedented ways this year. Such progress is well overdue, to say the least, and this isn’t lost on Amarteifio. “It feels great to be on a project that is so unapologetic, and it’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to talk about race.’ It’s a real privilege. I feel very proud that Shonda was brazen with that,” she says.
As we’ve established, Amarteifio is no stranger to a television set, but Queen Charlotte? It’s in a league all its own. Between being cast in February 2022 and beginning filming at the end of March 2022, Amarteifio barely had time to catch her breath. But maybe that was a good thing. “How much can you prepare for this?” she muses. “We only had episodes one and two [ready], I believe. Maybe even just one because Shonda likes to write as we’re filming. So there was this equal pleasure and horror. But also, I kept wondering, ‘Am I going to be able to do it?’ We had four weeks of prep, which involved dance rehearsals, script annotations and working one-on-one with Corey [Mylchreest], who plays young George. Aside from that, I just really enjoy the feeling of being hyperfixated on a project, being all in. It was the most chaotic six months of my life, but it was also the best because that’s what I enjoy. I love being intense, going in every day and giving 100%. It was a heavy filming, but it was a team effort. As much as it is Queen Charlotte, I think you’ll come to see it as an ensemble piece. The show wouldn’t be anything without the entire team, so I owe them a lot. I just want the world to experience it and to see it all flourish and for the people to get their credit. Everyone put in so much work.”