Aisha Dee is committed to emulating her The Bold Type character’s passion for activism offscreen. In an Instagram post on Thursday night, the actress detailed the ways in which she feels her hit Freeform show has missed the mark regarding representation. “I am ready to push harder and speak louder for what matters to me: The diversity we see in front of the camera needs to be reflected in the diversity of the creative team behind the camera,” she wrote in an open letter.
Dee, who has played outspoken social media guru Kat Edison on four seasons of The Bold Type, shared that the show “struggles to understand the intersections many of its characters live in.” Dee noted the lack of BIPOC writers for the first two seasons and that it took three seasons before someone in the hair department knew how to properly style Black hair. She also pointed out that there had only been one Black female director across 48 episodes, and never a Black female head of department, although her character Kat achieves that status onscreen. “I’m critical because I care, because I’ve seen firsthand the incredible impact of this show, and I believe in its potential to be better,” she wrote.
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The actress also critiqued her character’s romantic storyline in season 4, which airs its final episode tonight. In recent episodes, Kat has gotten romantically involved with a conservative woman named Ava, whose father supported a gay conversion camp. “The decision to have Kat enter into a relationship with a privileged conservative woman felt confusing and out of character,” Dee wrote. “Despite my personal feelings about the choice, I tried my best to tell the story with honesty, even though the Kat I know and love would never make these choices. It was heartbreaking to watch Kat’s story turn into a redemption story for someone else, someone who is complicit in the oppression of so many. Someone whose politics are actively harmful to her communities.”
Dee also noted that even though her character dated a Muslim woman in earlier seasons, “there have never been any queer Black or Muslim writers in the room.”
Dee’s lead co-stars, Katie Stevens and Meghann Fahy, reposted her message on Instagram. Co-star Melora Hardin commented on Dee’s letter, “So wonderful that you are being that reflection you we’re [sic] looking for now for so many young people today on The Bold Type. It’s beautiful just like you are!!!♥️?❤️”
In a separate post, Stevens shared a photo of herself, Fahy, and Dee, writing, “watching #TheBoldType finale tonight with hope, optimism, and excitement about the future of our show, and the changes that will come ?Also just really want to be in a sandwich like this again holding my sisters @aishtray @meghannfahy.”
A source close to the show denied parts of Dee’s comments to Variety, claiming that The Bold Type had queer women of color on the writing staff at various points. Producers for the show, Freeform, and Universal Television released the following statement, per Variety:
We applaud Aisha for raising her hand and starting conversations around these important issues. We look forward to continuing that dialogue and enacting positive change. Our goal on The Bold Type is and has always been to tell entertaining, authentic stories that are representative of the world that Kat, Jane and Sutton live in—we can only do that if we listen.
Dee wrote that she was having ongoing conversations with writers, producers, and executives and clarified that her comments were “not judgement” but a “call to action.” She explained, “This is an opportunity to walk the walk, to really practice the things The Bold Type teaches, by acknowledging mistakes and making commitments to be better in the future.”
The season 4 finale of The Bold Type premieres tonight on Freeform at 10 p.m. EST.
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