The first episode of “Queen Charlotte” features a dedication to Jacqueline Avant which might leave viewers scratching their heads.
The “Bridgerton” spin-off is now streaming on Netflix, with the end of the premiere episode featuring the words “In Memory of Jacqueline Avant”.
Contrary to usual dedications, which are tributes to late crew and cast members, Avant did not work on the series.
She was a prominent figure in the Black cultural world, as well as a philanthropist and community activist, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Mother to former United States ambassador Nicole Avant, who is married to Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos, the late figure was shot and killed Dec. 2021 at the age of 81.
While Avant didn’t work directly on the series, she was a driving force behind the spin-off being created.
She had a lifelong interest in the historical figure of Queen Charlotte, which motivated Sarandos to approach showrunner Shonda Rhimes about the spin-off.
“What really pushed it was Ted Sarandos, who called me up and said, ‘My mother-in-law is obsessed with Queen Charlotte. Do you want to do a Queen Charlotte story?'” Rhimes recalled. “And I immediately said yes.”
On Thursday, Sarandos dedicated his own tribute to his late mother-in-law with an Instagram post about her obsession.
“Queen Charlotte, is not just a real historical figure, she was a favorite historical figure of my late mother-in-law, Jacqueline Avant,” he began.
Avant approached Sarandos about Netflix doing something about Queen Charlotte, to which he told her she was featured in “Bridgerton”.
In response, the late matriarch shared her collection of authentic letters from the royal she had purchased in auctions over the years. A photo of the letters accompanied the post.
“I called Shonda Rhimes, who was deep into breaking season 2. I told her about Jacquie’s inspired idea and told her that now that she had made Queen Charlotte such a popular character, someone was certainly going to tell her story in a film or series and it should be her,” he recalled. “Shonda loved the idea and jumped in and built what would be the first expansion of Bridgerton beyond the book series, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.”
The Netflix executive explained that while Avant did not live to see the spin-off, he hoped the dedication would be a fitting tribute.
“Jacqueline did not live to see what you all will see tonight but you will see in the last moments of episode one, Shonda has dedicated the series to the memory of Jacqueline Avant,” he added.