'The Bold Type': Aisha Dee and Amanda Lasher It's Tuesday: actress Aisha Dee and showrunner Amanda Lasher join Sam to talk about their Freeform show, 'The Bold Type.' The show follows three young women living and working in New York City — wide-eyed youth dealing with race, sex, and politics, without the tired tropes. Email samsanders@npr.org or tweet @NPRItsBeenAMin with feels.
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'The Bold Type': Aisha Dee and Amanda Lasher

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'The Bold Type': Aisha Dee and Amanda Lasher

'The Bold Type': Aisha Dee and Amanda Lasher

'The Bold Type': Aisha Dee and Amanda Lasher

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/636195090/636195690" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

"The Bold Type" showrunner Amanda Lasher (left) and Aisha Dee (right), who plays Kat, at the January 2018 "Freeform Summit" in Los Angeles, Calif. Image Group LA/Freeform hide caption

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Image Group LA/Freeform

"The Bold Type" showrunner Amanda Lasher (left) and Aisha Dee (right), who plays Kat, at the January 2018 "Freeform Summit" in Los Angeles, Calif.

Image Group LA/Freeform

The Bold Type is a show about three women in their 20s – Kat, Jane, and Sutton – navigating work and personal life in New York City.

When the show premiered last summer on Freeform, one critic called it "the summer's most insightful series about young women," lauding it for tackling "weighty stories about self-expression, politics, equality, sexuality, religion and freedom."

Some critics and fans were surprised to find a show like that on Freeform, the Disney-owned network formerly known as ABC Family. Some doubted it would last.

But last it did. The show wraps its second season this week. Sam talked with actress Aisha Dee, who plays Kat, and showrunner Amanda Lasher, about the show's continued success and the complex issues it tackles.

As a fan of the show myself (and I am joined by two other It's Been a Minute team members in that category), I can't relate to the swanky magazine jobs that the women have. But I do recognize their friendship in my own female friendships. They are independent and supportive. They don't let others get in the way of their bond. Their friendships exist independently of male characters. And when they fail — either at work, or in social relationships — it's because failure is normal, not because they're women.

One reason I kept watching the show was to see one of the characters, Kat, fall for a woman for the first time. For the most part, there are two ways queer women are represented on mainstream television. There's the woman whose queerness is a deep, dark secret that tortures her and hovers over everything she does. Then there's the lesbian, plugged into a show as a fully formed character, but somehow completely untouched by her own queerness — seemingly there to show audiences that lesbians are regular people, too.

The Bold Type doesn't reduce queer characters into tropes. Kat and her girlfriend, Adena, are people with experiences beyond their queerness. Their relationship has problems that are both universal to all relationships and are specific to them as individuals. Their queerness intersects with other aspects of their lives, but it doesn't overpower them.

With so few relationships between queer women on-screen, it would be easy for this one to attempt to represent all queer womens' relationships and inevitably fail. Kat and Adena don't perfectly reflect any relationship I have had. Instead, the show treats their relationship with specificity and portrays the characters as whole people. And that is validation to the range of queer relationships that exist in the real world.

Producer Kumari Devarajan


Interview Highlights

Dee on Kat, who is biracial, and her friend Jane, who is white, having a conversation about hiring diversely in the workplace

DEE: That conversation with Jane is one that I've had, so it felt really real.

[...]

As an actress, in recent years, my white friends are finding it kind of challenging. A lot of my white friends are saying, 'You know I went in for this audition, and you know, they went diverse,' and ... I've been doing this for a while, and especially in Australia, I experienced a lot of casting directors [telling] me 'You know, you're probably not going to get it. We don't want to go diverse.' I was told by casting directors to move to America because I would probably work more.

Aisha Dee plays Kat Edison on The Bold Type. Ed Herrera/Freeform hide caption

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Ed Herrera/Freeform

Aisha Dee plays Kat Edison on The Bold Type.

Ed Herrera/Freeform

Dee on growing up black in Australia

DEE: I grew up in a part of Australia that was not very diverse, and I didn't always love what I saw in the mirror. My mother is white. My father is black. I grew up with only the white side of my family in a town where like, when you see another black person across the street, you wave. You'd be like 'Oh my God! Whassup? What are you doing here?' And that's a real thing. In Australia in the nineties, totally a real thing. So for me it was something I had to learn on my own. And luckily I had a mother who, when I would come home saying I was getting teased or whatever at school, she would say, 'Well, you know they're just jealous because, they don't know, like, you come from kings and queens, and you were royalty, and you are powerful, and your hair defies gravity.'

[...]

And she exposed me to music and movies that empowered me in ways that at the time I didn't realize how much it was influencing me. Like listening to Janet Jackson, Mahalia Jackson, Natalie Cole. She would give me movies like Cleopatra Jones and Coffy, and Pam Grier is one of my heroes, you know. Watching those movies was like therapy for me, so it's probably a big reason why I love to [perform].

Lasher on having a diverse writers' room and portraying a queer relationship between two women

LASHER:

The different backgrounds are what's fascinating, and I love that. And it's also where we get stories from, and it keeps the show having energy.

I'm always asking the writers to vet things. We did a story line on [how] Kat had never gone down on a woman before. I had watched the show as a viewer the first season, and Kat and Adena had this conversation where Kat's like, I could never go there in talking about going down on a woman. So when we were talking about storylines for season 2, I thought, I want to see that.

[...]

But I definitely wanted the queer writers especially to talk about their experiences with that, and then also what they didn't want to see. They don't want to see the cutaway. They talked about how many times they watched queer couples having sex or kissing or something like that, and then all of a sudden it would go soft focus or it would cut away. ... So I was like, okay, if we're going to do this, we're going to do it.

Kumari Devarajan adapted this episode for the Web. Anjuli Sastry produced and Jordana Hochman edited this episode for broadcast.