Zawe Ashton says she was warned not to get pregnant.

Zawe Ashton for Tatler  [photographer Luc Braquet]

Zawe Ashton for Tatler [photographer Luc Braquet]

The 38-year-old actress is currently expecting her first child with fiance Tom Hiddleston but she admitted that the mixed messaging around getting pregnant in the acting industry can be tough.

She told the October issue of Tatler: "You’re told, 'Don’t get pregnant' but also 'Don’t leave it too long' because then you’re going to be an old maid. I’ve been prehistoric in this industry since I was 25. The mixed messaging is rough and has to be addressed. It was just suddenly this self-permission comes over you that goes against all that messaging."

Zawe also admitted that she has learned to be less open since becoming more well known.

When congratulated on her pregnancy, she said: "Thanks. It’s wonderful.

"I used to talk about [having children] all the time in interviews – it was really unsuitable. I’ve got to learn [the art of discretion].

"I cannot put myself in the same privacy conversation as Adele. But, I think it’s like any choice. You make it and then do it as much as you can."

Zawe spoke about being gaslit in the industry, particularly when she was trying to write her own version of 'Girls'.

She said: "‘I don’t know why, but sometimes they really want to wash you out. There was just this weird resistance. And bullying. Bullying, demeaning, gaslighting… I was yelled at by one producer because I was questioning something about my own work. We didn’t do that kind of thing here until the success of things like 'I May Destroy You' or 'Fleabag'."

However, Zawe's experiences have led her to try to help other upcoming actors and she shared a story about how she helped 'Bridgerton's Regé-Jean Page, when he was just a bit-part actor on 'Fresh Meat', which she starred in.

She said: "I could see he was committed, clear-eyed about what he wanted to do. And so I gave him my number."

That led to Page asking Ashton for a recommendation letter for his American visa and, she said: "then, 10 years later, I turned on Bridgerton and..."

See the full feature in the October issue of Tatler available via digital download and on newsstands from Thursday 1st September.

Read the interview here