Simone Ashwini Pillai was born 30 March 1995 and is known professionally as Simone Ashley. She is a British actress.
Born to Indian Tamil parents Latha and Gunasekharan Pillai, Ashley is from Camberley, Surrey and has an older brother.
Ashley has spoken about how despite growing up in a household of academics, she was always drawn more towards the creative fields. Her parents were hesitant about her inclination to the arts.
Ashley grew up singing classical music, opera, and playing the piano.
Ashley’s family later moved to Beaconsfield where Ashley attended Beaconsfield High School. She also attended Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead for sixth form. She spent some of her teen years in California where she has relatives, and went on to train in acting at Arts Educational School in West London.
Ashley’s first acting role was in two episodes of fantasy teen drama Wolfblood as Zuhra. This was followed by appearances in thriller series Guilt (2016), and crime drama Broadchurch (2017). She made her feature film debut in 2018 with a small role in Boogie Man as Aarti, and a more prominent role in Kill Ben Lyk as one of the many characters named Ben Lyk.
From 2019–2021 Ashley played the recurring role of Olivia Hanan in the Netflix comedy-drama Sex Education. She also appeared in the ITV psychological thriller miniseries The Sister as Elise Fox in 2020.
Having auditioned in 2020, it was announced in February 2021 that Ashley would star as leading lady Kate opposite Jonathan Bailey as Anthony in the second series of the Shondaland-produced Netflix romance period drama Bridgerton, based on the second novel in Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, The Viscount Who Loved Me. The series was released in March 2022. She is set to reprise her role for the third series.
She has an undisclosed role in the 2023 live-action film adaptation of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.