Charithra Chandran and Sebastian Croft Talk Diversity in Teen Rom-Coms

Prime Video

Image Source: Prime Video

Charithra Chandran and Sebastian Croft want you to have fun watching their latest film. The duo are starring as best friends and potential lovers, Amelia Brown and Archie Arnold, in Prime Video’s coming-of-age romantic comedy “How To Date Billy Walsh.” Amelia and Archie roam the halls of Heathbrook Academy navigating their first experiences of love, lust and friendship breakups. Watching it feels like a blast from the past, like watching those classic rom-coms from the 2000s and early 2010s. “How To Date Billy Walsh” is quirky, light-hearted and a bit silly – all the perfect ingredients you need for a successful teen rom-com.

For those of you who know Croft from the critically acclaimed queer drama series “Heartstopper” – playing the manipulative and toxic Ben Hope – this role is a complete change of tone and might surprise you. “Archie is just a silly character,” he says. “It’s lovely to do something different. It’s so nice to play a warm and over-the-top character after diving into something quite different and very serious with “Heartstopper”.”

In recent years, we’ve seen a shift within British rom-coms – we are seeing a lot more diversity, something that was often missing in the 2000s and 2010s. Following on from the success of richly diverse romantic coming-of-age stories like “One Day”, “Rye Lane” and “Heartstopper”, “How To Date Billy Walsh” is another great example of inclusivity within the genre. For young people of colour and those within the LGBTQ+ community in the UK, there is so much good that comes from seeing themselves at the centre of these love stories and being desired.

Chandran is of British South-Asian descent and has always been very vocal about the need for greater diversity. She tells POPSUGAR UK: “We actually asked our director Alex Pillai [whose credits include “Riverdale,” “Bridgerton,” and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”] about how he chose the cast and it was always about selecting the best person for the role. However, I think if their personal identity can add to the role and make it richer, then that’s really beautiful.”

Image Source: Prime Video

She continues: “I think there’s something incredibly bold about having such a diverse group of individuals, both in the main cast and the supporting cast of this film, but also just making it seem really normal. This is the world that we live in today. This is how we want the world to be – and look how great it’s turned out.” Croft agrees: “It is normal! If you want to make a film like this, about what it’s like being a teenager and falling in love right now, this is the way to do it. We’re really owning diversity in this film.”

Many of us were first introduced to Chandran as the dutiful sister Edwina Sharma in “Bridgerton” series two. This year we have watched the actress transition from ensemble character to leading lady – from “How To Date Billy Walsh” to starring in the West End in “Instructions For A Teenage Armageddon,” and Chandran is taking it all in her stride. “There’s a sense of responsibility, passion, and an aspect of leadership as well,” she says. “For a lot of the cast, this was their first credit and the experience was really new to them. Sebastian and I took it upon ourselves to make sure that not only we were having a good time and doing our best work, but making sure that everyone else felt super protected and loved.” She adds: “That is a core part of leading a show that isn’t often talked about, because it’s behind the scenes.”

If you’re wondering if filming the rom-com was as much fun as it is to watch, the answer is a definite yes. Chandran reveals: “All the cast are super close because we shot half the time in the countryside in the north of England, we were fairly isolated so we all stayed together. It really did feel like we were boarding school together; we went on nights out and had dinner together pretty much every single day.” Croft adds: “There was a lot of mischief that went on.”

Starring in a rom-com was a bucket list for both Croft and Chandran. She muses: “As a young actor, being in a romantic comedy is the dream. Imagine looking back at your career 20 years down the line – we actually got to do a teen rom-com together.” Pretty iconic if you ask us.

“How To Date Billy Walsh” launches on Prime Video on Friday 5th April.

Aaliyah Harry (she/her) is the associate editor at POPSUGAR UK. She writes extensively across lifestyle, culture and beauty. Aaliyah also has a deep passion for telling stories and giving voice to the voiceless. Previously, she has contributed to Refinery29, Grazia UK and The Voice Newspaper.

Related Posts
Latest Celebrity
The End.

The next story, coming up!