The Bold Type is best known for its progressive storylines and advocacy for diversity and inclusion, but talking the talk and walking the walk are two different things. Aisha Dee, who plays Kat Edison on the series, is speaking out about the lack of diversity behind the scenes on the show in an effort to make Freeform live up to its messaging.
Dee posted her thoughts about the lack of inclusion on The Bold Type to Instagram Wednesday evening, calling for Freeform and The Bold Type to do better.
"It took two seasons to get a single BIPOC in the writer's room for The Bold Type. And even then, the responsibility to speak for the entire Black experience cannot and should not fall on one person," Dee wrote. "In four seasons (48 episodes) we've had one Black woman direct two episodes. It took three seasons to get someone in the hair department who knew how to work textured hair… For a show that frequently uses words like intersectionality, inclusion, discourse, and the various ism's, 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 reflected on some of her struggles within the industry from issues with hair to makeup to stand-ins, all of which add up to a slew of problematic micro-aggressions. According to Dee, her stand-in on her first TV show was in brown face and wearing a curly wig. She also says casting directors and agents have encouraged her to stay out of the sun to avoid being too dark to be "marketable."
As Dee noted, Season 3 saw the introduction of a bisexual woman of color to the writing staff. Before that a lesbian woman of color wrote for the show in Season 2. The Season 4 writers rooms consisted of three writers who identify as LGBTQ+, while five writers are persons of color and eight out of the 10 writers were female.
In addition to calling out the show's unbalanced attention to white heterosexual characters versus queer and POC characters, she also took issue with her character's storyline in Season 4 of The Bold Type, in which Kat was romantically paired with a white, conservative lesbian.
"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 who's politics are actively harmful to her communities."
"Please read what my girl has to say. I am beyond proud of my sister @aishtray. I stand by her through thick and thin and am so proud of the woman she is," Stevens wrote.
"V proud of my sister ♥️ @aishtray," said Fahy.
Freeform has responded to Dee's post with an official statement which reads, "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."
The Bold Type airs Thursdays at 10/9c on Freeform.