UPDATE: On Wednesday, The Bold Type actress Aisha Dee took to social media to open up about her experiences and struggle as a Black woman in the film and TV industry. She urged for more inclusion of diverse voices behind the camera on the progressive show. Freeform along with Universal Television and the executive producers for the show sent Deadline a response to Dee’s post.
“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,” the joint 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.”
It was also pointed out that the show has had LGBTQ women of color on staff and it took two seasons to have a bisexual woman of color. In season two, there was a lesbian woman of color on staff and in season three a bisexual woman of color. Additionally, in season 4, the writers room consisted of three writers who identify as LGBTQ+, and five are people of color. Eight out of the 10 writers are female.
PREVIOUS: The Bold Type actress Aisha Dee took to Instagram to give her thoughtful, yet unfiltered take on the lack of diversity on the Freeform show. Even though Freeform is known for being inclusive with their programming, Dee called out blind spots that the show has failed to recognize when it came to hiring people of color, LGBTQ people and women behind the camera.
Dee plays Kat Edison on the series who is queer. As a biracial woman, she was very open with her experiences and struggles when it came to her identity. This has impacted her life and her career — including her role on the Freeform show which came at a time when her self-esteem was at an all-time low.
“For the first time in my career, I got to play a character who was centered in her own narrative,” wrote Dee. “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. Kat Edison: unapologetic, outspoken, brave, the woman I always wished I could be.”
She mentioned that she always tried to be constructive and positive when she brought up her concerns as the only woman of color in the room. She admitted she never wanted to come across as “ungrateful, negative or difficult”.
“The constant scrutiny of myself as an individual as well as the character I play made me feel apprehensive to bring up any concerns outside the workplace,” she said.
Dee took a cue from her character who would take a stand and advocate for herself. “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 said.
She points out that it took two seasons to get a person of color in The Bold Type writers room and although the show had a narrative focusing on a queer Black woman and lesbian Muslim woman falling in love, there were no queer Black or Muslim writers in the room.
Dee continued to point out where the show fell short when it came to inclusivity behind the camera. The show only had one Black woman as a director in four seasons and mentioned that it took three seasons to get a stylist who knew how to work with textured hair in the hair department. She also states that the show has never had a Black female as the head of a department.
“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,” she said. “I do not believe this is intentional. We cannot bring specificity and honesty to experiences we have not lived. And when there is a lack of representation, the way marginalized characters are treated is even more important because they have the potential to empower or perpetuate damaging stereotypes that have a lasting and real effect on real people.”
She reflects on her experiences and microaggressions she experienced throughout her career including how makeup artists blamed her for inconveniencing them because they did not have the right foundation for her skin tone.
In addition, she recognized her privilege as a biracial, light-skinned cisgender woman with a successful career. That said, she wants to use her platform to “challenge the status quo and demand better and more authentic representation in-front-of and behind the camera.”
She urges the hiring, promoting and listening to diverse voices so that The Bold Type will have the opportunity to tell more authentic stories.
“By speaking out, I’m taking a risk. It’s scary, but it’s worth it,” she concluded. “This is not a judgment. This is a call to action. We deserve to see stories that are for us, by us.”
Dee’s candid words are part of a reckoning in the film and TV industry as underrepresented voices are demanding change in a Hollywood system that has failed in more ways than one when it comes to diversity.
Read her entire post below.