“The Bold Type” star Aisha Dee is calling out the show for a lack of diversity behind the scenes, despite the progressive ideals represented by the Freeform series on screen.
Dee, who plays Kat Edison on the show centered on three women in their 20s working at a women's magazine, spoke out on her Instagram account Wednesday about representation shortcomings in the writers room and various off-camera jobs. The 26-year-old actress said that it took two seasons to include a writer of color and that only two episodes have been directed by a Black woman in four seasons of “The Bold Type.”
“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,” Dee said.
A representative for the show said that by the second season, the staff included a lesbian woman of color, and in season 3, a bisexual woman of color joined. For the current season, the writers room consisted of three writers who identify as LGBTQ+, and five people of color. The show noted that eight of its 10 writers are female.
The biracial actress noted that her criticisms come from a place of love and said her decision to speak out came from thinking about what her character would do. Dee also said the impact of “The Bold Type,” which has spoken candidly about women’s health and female sexuality, has the potential to go even further.
“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 said. “I do not believe this is intentional. We cannot bring specificity and honesty to experiences we have not lived.”
Dee's character Kat Edison is a Black, queer woman on the show who maintained a romance with an Iranian-Muslim for many seasons. The character is currently involved in a romantic relationship with a white conservative woman played by Alex Paxton-Beesley that has been the subject of fan backlash.
Dee addressed the storyline, noting that the romance seemed odd based on her understanding of Kat and how it shifted the character’s story arc.
“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,” Dee said. “Someone who’s politics are actively harmful to her communities.”
Freeform, which airs the series, and Universal Television, which distributes the series, said in a statement to NBC News that the companies applaud Dee for starting conversations around these issues.
“We look forward to continuing that dialogue and enacting positive change,” the statement said. “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.”
Universal Television is owned by NBCUniversal, the same parent company that owns NBC News.
Dee said in her statement that her criticisms were not judgments but instead calls to action. She explained that she wanted to use her platform and privilege to demand change.
“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,” Dee said. “I don’t have any control over how my words will be perceived, but I hope it’s clear everything I’ve said here is said with love, it comes from my heart.”
Both of Dee’s co-stars, Katie Stevens and Meghann Fahy, reposted her remarks on their own Instagram accounts Wednesday. The women offered their support and expressed pride in Dee for speaking up.