British actress Kathryn Drysdale is a quintessentially well-rounded performer. With acclaimed roles on the stage and screen in comedy and drama, Drysdale knows how vital it is to be versatile. Aside from her work opposite James McAvoy in the West End’s The Ruling Class and the hilarious royal family satire The Windsors, Drysdale is perhaps best known today for her turn on Netflix’s megahit Shonda Rhimes show Bridgerton. As the dressmaker Genevive Delacroix on the show, Drysdale certainly is not shy about how important her role is for actors of color. The series took viewers by storm when it premiered in 2020 with not only its colorblind casting, but also its spellbinding high society drama. Since the programs resounding success, Drysdale has more recently lent her voice to the upcoming animated comedy Best & Bester, as well as the currently in production thriller When They Come For Me.
Drysdale let us know just how much of herself she sees in Madame Delacroix, and how the show has influenced her current style. Read the full interview from The Untitled Magazine‘s latest print edition, The “INNOVATE” Issue, out now.
After the first season of Bridgerton premiered in 2020, it became the most viewed Netflix series of all time! As a member of the cast as Genevieve Delacroix, what has that success meant for you and your career?
I have been truly blown away by the success of Bridgerton. It all felt very unreal for us and hopefully the audiences will fall in love with the other seasons to come. It has certainly opened more doors for me and I have had the opportunity to work with some cool people since Season 1.
Working on Season 1, did you personally relate to your role of Madame Delacroix in any way?
I’m quite different from Genevieve in many ways, but I do understand her ambition and drive. She is a woman of real agency and I love playing her, and I’m interested in what the future holds for her. There are so many layers to her yet to be explored.
Bridgerton places a huge emphasis on costumes, hairstyling, and makeup. Since your character is a dressmaker herself, how did you prepare for the role?
I found great inspiration from Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfield for the role, and I loved watching Daniel Day Lewis in Phantom Thread. I also reached out to real life regency tailor Zack Pinsent. He is just so fabulous!
Has playing that role influenced your personal style choices? How would you describe your personal style?
I’m a vintage girl at heart so you will often find me in vintage prairie dresses with empire lines not dissimilar to Bridgerton’s, and I love big chunky boots. Genevieve has her own unique style, she is the only one on the show who wears black for a start. I have always followed my own style choices in that way.
Even before Bridgerton premiered, it made huge waves for being a period piece that cast actors of color. What does it mean to you to be part of this cast?
It means a lot to me to be involved in this. As a child I wanted to see people like myself fully represented on screen in period dramas. I wanted there to be a seat at the table for me in a period drama, so to be a character in a joyful world such as Bridgerton is thrilling.
Bridgerton is one of showrunner Shonda Rhimes’ biggest shows to date. Can you share some highlights of working with her and the cast of Bridgerton?
Shonda was a huge role model to me for years before I got the opportunity to work on Bridgerton. She creates an inclusive open workspace where we all feel heard, seen, and valued. She is a remarkable woman and the entire Shondaland team is outstanding.
On a different note, you also starred on Seasons 2 & 3 of The Windsors as Meghan Markle. Can you tell us about your role and how you prepared for it?
I love playing Meghan in The Windsors, and I look forward to future seasons. My Meghan is very much a fictional Californian princess “do-gooder.” We are very careful not to take this character down a particular route.
Do you prefer comedic acting or the high drama of your role in Bridgerton?
I find comedy a lot harder to do than drama, but I love being able to play both!
You’re well known for your work with James McAvoy in the West End’s The Ruling Class. Do you plan on doing more theater work soon? Do you have a preference for stage or screen?
I loved working with James on that production, he is one of the best people to work with. I would love to do more theatre work when time allows. I was asked to reprise Meghan in the theatre recently, but work commitments would not allow for it. I would really love to do an Ibsen or a Checkhov.
This is our “INNOVATE” issue. What does that word mean to you and how have you had to be innovative with your career, or during lockdown this past year?
“Innovate” is all about being fluid and open to change and growth. I think we have all had to tap into that part of ourselves during the pandemic. We showed that we can truly adapt and overcome. During the start of the pandemic I quickly set up a little mini home recording studio so that I could continue to do voice work from home on audio projects like cartoons, audiobooks, and adverts. Being able to continue to work and stay creative was a blessing. It’s so important to stay consistently flowing and growing.
What other projects can we look forward to from you this coming year?
I have a movie coming out, a TV series, plus two cartoon series. I’m not allowed to say much more yet but watch this space!
Kathryn Drysdale @kathryndrysdale
Photography by Simon Emmett @simonemmettstudio for @theuntitledmagazine
Stylist Rebekah Roy @rebekahroy_
Make-up by Emma Osborne @eosborne_makeup
Hair by @pauldonovanhair
Set Design by Emma Witter @emmawitter_setdesign
Lighting Assistant Guy Parsonage @guyparsonagephoto
Movement Director Ethan Samuel Jacobs @ethansamueljacobs
DOP Martin Roach @martinjroach_dop