Roughly 24 hours before The Bold Type was set to air its season 4 finale on Freeform, one of its three leads shed some light into what goes on behind the scenes of the program executive produced by and loosely based on the life of former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief and Hearst chief content officer Joanna Coles.
In a 10-slide Instagram posted on Wednesday night, Aisha Dee, who plays Kat Edison, the fictional magazine Scarlet’s first Black female department head, described her experiences with racism while growing up in Australia and working in Hollywood—and while on the series’s set.
“I’m ready to take a cue from my girl Kat. What would Kat do? She would take a stand and advocate for herself and all other marginalized voices to influence change,” Dee wrote. “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.”
In 2018, The Bold Type was nominated for a GLAAD Award and aired its second season, which saw Kat have a relationship with a Muslim photographer named Adena. “We got to tell a story about a queer Black woman and a lesbian Muslim woman falling in love, but there have never been any queer Black or Muslim writers in the room,” Dee wrote. “In four seasons (48 episodes) we’ve had one Black woman direct two episodes.” They added a single BIPOC writer to the writers’ room two years into the show, but Dee hardly considers that progress: “Even then, the responsibility to speak for the entire Black experience cannot and should not fall on one person.” (It apparently also took the hair department three years to find someone “who knew how to work with textured hair.”)
“The level of care, nuance, and development that has gone into the stories centering white hetero characters is inconsistent with the stories centering queer characters and POC,” Dee continued. “For a show that frequently uses words like intersectionality, inclusion, discourse, and the various isms, I wonder how its stories may have been elevated had they been told through the lens of people with a more varied lived experience.”
Dee also took care to stress her love for the show, which gave her the first opportunity to play a character centered in her own narrative (rather than “just the white character’s ‘best friend’”). “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. “The Bold Type has done so much good, but it struggles to understand the intersections many of its characters live in.” And these issues, she continued, are not exclusive to the show: “The entertainment industry has operated this way since its inception.” (In fact,
Dee’s two main costars, Meghann Fahy (Sutton) and Katie Stevens (Jane), both reposted Dee’s statement, with the latter noting that she “stand[s] by her through thick and thin.” “Just because multiple POC and queer people are on screen, doesn’t mean the work is done,” Adam Capriolo (Andrew) captioned his repost. “It is not lost on me that a white gay man is finding the strength to voice himself because of a Black woman, it’s a tale as old as time.”
In a statement to Variety, producers from The Bold Type, Freeform, and Universal Television said they “applaud Aisha.” “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.” They may need to listen a bit harder; according to Dee, she’s already been having conversations with writers, producers, and Freeform and Universal TV execs for several weeks.