Who is Nicola Coughlan? Bridgerton star calls out body-shamers in Instagram post

Nicola Coughlan (Images via Getty Images and Netflix)
Nicola Coughlan (Images via Getty Images and Netflix)

Irish actress Nicola Coughlan, best known for playing Clare Devlin in Derry Girls (2018-2019) and Penelope Featherington in Netflix’s Bridgerton (2020-present), has spoken up on being body shamed in her recent Instagram post.

Coughlan, posting a mirror selfie of herself in her New York hotel room before going to SNL, asked body-shamers to keep their opinions about her body to themselves. She wrote:

"Hello! So just a thing- if you have an opinion about my body please, please don’t share it with me."

She addressed the struggles of being constantly aware of people's thoughts about her body, whether well-intentioned or not, as she stated:

"Most people are being nice and not trying to be offensive but I am just one real life human being and it’s really hard to take the weight of thousands of opinions on how you look being sent directly to you every day."

Nicola Coughlan noted in her post that even though it is okay for people to be opinionated, she doesn't appreciate them sharing what they think directly with her. She politely requested,

"If you have an opinion about me that’s ok, I understand I’m on TV and that people will have things to think and say but I beg you not to send it to me directly."

Everything to know about Nicola Coughlan

Nicola Coughlan was born on January 9, 1987 in Galway, Ireland, and was brought up in Oranmore. The actress, who turned 35 this month, has a degree in English and Classical Civilisation from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She is a trained actor who went to England to study at the Oxford School of Drama and Birmingham School of Acting.

At drama school, she worked with Dana Andersen of The Second City and was directed by Vik Sivalingam and Gemma Fairlie from the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Her on-screen debut was made with a controversial short called The Phantom Cnut (2004), which was directed by Tom Collins. In 2012, Coughlan appeared in BBC's Doctors. She also played Hannah Dalton in the period-drama TV series Harlots in 2018.

Nicola Coughlan, who looks way younger than her age, was awarded the 'Outstanding Individual Performance Award' in the National Improvisation Competition, according to IMDB. The actress, who has been raved about by many critics, has often posted behind-the-scenes photos and videos with her co-stars from Bridgerton, Harlots, and Derry Girls.

In 2015, she went from door to door to get people to vote 'yes' in Ireland's equal-marriage referendum. In 2018, Coughlan, an advocate for women's reproductive rights, marched in protest to bring changes to the laws of Northern Ireland.

Nicola Coughlan, who does not consider herself to be a body positivity activist, once noted in an interview that she is willing to lose or gain weight if the script demands. She told Refinery29:

"If I was playing a ballerina or an Olympic gymnast, I may have to lose a bunch of weight. If I'm playing a sumo wrestler, I may have to gain a load of weight. If it's relevant in the script, then it's relevant to me."

In an essay titled 'Critics, Judge Me for My Work in Derry Girls and on the Stage, Not on My Body,' which was written for The Guardian in 2018, she addressed the issue of most women being body shamed, saying:

"I know I'm not alone; women in my industry are put under constant scrutiny for their looks. It affects male actors as well – I had messages from them – but the vast majority of feedback was from women. Something in our society tells us that women's bodies are fair game for scrutiny in a way that men's simply are not."

Nicola Coughlan is best friends with Jonathan Van Ness, who took her to Elton John's Oscar Party in 2020 as his date and has visited her on the set of Bridgerton at least once. She was also invited to his secret wedding to Mark Peacock in 2020.