Like her character on The Bold Type, star Aisha Dee is speaking out — in particular, about racial representation on the Freeform drama in which she plays the fiercely outspoken and passionate Kat Edison.
In a lengthy Instagram post on Wednesday evening, Dee noted that “it took two seasons to get a single [Black, Indigenous or Person of Color] in the writers’ 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. 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.” (A source close to the show tells TVLine that there have been queer women of color on the writing staff, including a lesbian woman of color in Season 2 and a bisexual woman of color in Season 3. Additionally, in Season 4, the writers’ room consisted of three writers who identify as LGBTQ+ and five who are POC, while eight out of the 10 writers are female.)
Dee added that only one Black woman has directed two of the show’s 48 episodes, and that there has never been a Black female department head on the set. “It took three seasons to get someone in the hair department who knew how to work with textured hair,” Dee continued. “This was impactful on so many levels, and I’m grateful for the women who showed me how to embrace and love my hair in a way I never had before. I want to make sure that no one else ever has to walk onto a set and feel as though their hair is a burden. It is not.”
Dee also took aim at Kat’s storyline during the current fourth season, which has seen her sparring and flirting with a Republican lesbian. “The decision to have Kat enter into a relationship with a privileged conservative woman felt confusing and out of character,” Dee shared. “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 [whose] politics are actively harmful to her communities.”
Moving forward, the actress is “ready to take a cue from my girl Kat,” Dee wrote. “What would Kat do? She would take a stand and advocate for herself and all other marginalized voices to influence change. 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.”
To that end, “over the last few weeks, I’ve had conversations with the writers and producers, as well as the executives at Freeform and Universal TV,” Dee concluded. “I’m hopeful we will have the opportunity to tell more authentic stories by hiring, promoting, and listening to diverse voices across the entire production of The Bold Type and beyond. 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. … By speaking out, I’m taking a risk. It’s scary, but it’s worth it. This is not judgment. This is a call to action. We deserve to see stories that are for us, by us.”
In a joint statement, the producers of The Bold Type, Freeform and Universal Television said, “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.”
Meanwhile, The Bold Type‘s Season 4 finale is slated to air this Thursday at 10/9c.