Aisha Dee Is Pushing for More Diversity on ‘The Bold Type’ After Controversial Storyline
"The responsibility to speak for the entire Black experience should not fall on one person."
If you’ve seen The Bold Type, you know that Aisha Dee’s character, Kat, isn’t one to stay silent. Kat is always quick to call out injustices in the workplace (even when it cost her job) and in real life, Dee is following through with the same energy. On Wednesday, the actress posted a 10-slide-long letter on Instagram detailing her experience on the show and calling for more diversity behind the camera.
Along with the simple caption, “for us ♥️,” Dee started the letter by reflecting on her experience growing up in “very white, very conservative spaces” in Australia in the ’90s. She shared that art and acting was a place where she could “celebrate her blackness” and the things that made her different. “It sounds kind of cliché, but the characters in these stories were my friends, they made me feel less alone,” she wrote. She went on to write that playing Kat was the first time she “got to play a character who was centered in herself in her own narrative.”
“She wasn’t just the white character’s ‘best friend.’ She was empowered and confident, she approached the exploration of her queer identity with an open heart, and was met with nothing but love and acceptance from her friends. Kat Edison: unapologetic, outspoken, brave, the woman I always wished I could be.”Aisha Dee
Taking inspiration from Kat, Dee decided to take the opportunity to speak out about the lack of diversity behind the scenes of The Bold Type. Though she wrote that she’s been apprehensive about bringing up concerns in the past—never wanting to come off as “ungrateful, negative, or difficult”—she was ready to push harder for what matters to her.
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.
Dee pointed out that it took two seasons to get a single BIPOC writer in the writer’s room and that “even then, the responsibility to speak for the entire Black experience should not fall on one person.” Though Kat is a queer Black woman who falls in love with a lesbian Muslim woman on the show, there have never been any queer Black or Muslim writers in the room, Dee explained. “In four seasons (48 episodes) we’ve had one Black woman direct two episodes,” she wrote.
In the most recent season, Kat enters a relationship with a privileged, conservative women, and Dee wrote that this storyline felt “confusing and out of character.”
“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 who’s politics are actively harmful to her communities.”Aisha Dee
Dee also brought attention to the lack of diversity on in the hair department, writing that it took three seasons to get someone who “knew how to work with textured hair.” She wrote that it was “impactful” when this finally did happen. “I’m grateful for the women who showed me how to embrace my hair and love my hair in a way I never had before. I want to make sure no one else ever has to walk onto a set and feel as though their hair is a burden. It is not,” she wrote.
Though the majority of the post focuses on diversity issues at The Bold Type, Dee explained that these issues are pervasive throughout the entertainment industry, recalling microaggressions on set from as early as age 14. Dee also called out her own privilege as a cisgender, light-skinned, biracial woman, writing that she wanted to use her platform to “actively challenge the status quo.”
She ended the letter by writing that she hoped it was clear that “everything I’ve said here is said with love, it comes from the heart.” Her on-screen best friends—Jane, played by Katie Stevens, and Sutton, played by Meghann Fahy—both shared the post on their Instagram accounts.
As reported by ET, The Bold Type‘s producers, Freeform, and Universal TV responded with a statement of their own.
“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.”