I caught Aisha Dee while the service was spotty, but that’s because she was out to brunch with co-star Meghann Fahy, who plays Sutton Brady-Hunter on Freeform’s The Bold Type. A cult favorite, the show follows three young women—Sutton, Jane Sloan, and Kat Edison, played by Aisha Dee—as they work at a fashion publication while balancing love, careers, and coming into their own identities.
Dee’s Kat a young Black woman who tangles her sexuality, racial identification and career path. From running for local office and dating a rivaling Republican woman, to getting fired from her job for standing up for what she believes in and posting nipples on the Scarlet Magazine Twitter account, Kat’s character is a live wire that we absolutely love.
“Truly, I’m so floored by the fact that people even watch the show because I’ve been in so many things that people didn’t even pay attention to, that I think are great but they just flew under the radar,” Dee admitted during our phone call. “Me, Katie [Stevens], and Mehgann, we are so appreciative and so full of gratitude.”
Unfortunately, after the pandemic hit, The Bold Type had its production halted and it has been revealed that the fifth season, airing now on Hulu and Freeform, will be the final one.
“We’re so grateful that we got the chance to say goodbye properly because it really felt like we were just like drifted away from everything, including our crew. There’s such a big part of our experience there,” Dee told ESSENCE Girls United about giving the proper sendoff to the show, cast and crew.
Keep reading to peep our conversation with Aisha Dee about her love for and pride in Kat’s character. Warning: season finale spoilers ahead!
On what drew her into Kat’s character when she first auditioned for The Bold Type:
Usually, we got these emails with these appointments and it’s got a logline. I think at first glance, when I read the logline of the show, I was like, ‘Oh, three girls trying to make it in New York. I feel like this has been done before.’ I wasn’t super amped about it because I think I judged it at face value for what I thought it was.
My reps were like, ‘We really think you should read the script. You’ll get a better idea of what the show is,’ and so I did, and I was so surprised by it. I think that’s really what drew me to it because I felt like it subverted my expectations of what a show like that is supposed to look like.
On Kat’s coming into her own sexuality and identity as a queer Black woman:
I think that’s a really huge one for me. Seeing this coming-out story that is so free from anger. Her friends supported her and her family supports her. It’s not everyone’s experience but I think it’s really important to see and the show has this aspirational quality to it which I think is why people are drawn to it. It might not be our exact experience, but seeing how it can be is really inspiring.
On Kat’s growth throughout the show and advocacy as a Black woman:
I hear a lot of things about Kat that I identify with and I feel like she is a part of me, but that part, I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t have that experience.’ The way I grew up I was typical, the only person of color around. I grew up in a certain part of Australia [where] everyone looks the same. I was always, almost hyper-aware of my identity.
She’s a bit of a late bloomer in a lot of ways [and] she didn’t really explore her sexuality until much later in life. I think it makes sense even just given where she comes from, but it takes her a little bit longer to see those parts of the world that she’s always been living in. Over the course of the whole series, we see Kat start to strip that away and start seeing things for how they really are and start learning how to use her privilege for the greater good.
On what to expect from the final season of The Bold Type:
Oh, boy. Well, endings are really difficult. I can’t think of a TV show that’s ended and everyone has been satisfied with it. I think by nature we don’t want these things to end. Sometimes it’s really hard to say goodbye, but I really hope that the show gives people closure in this last season because we were so blessed to have been in a position where we knew that the show was ending.
[I]t’s really hard to end something in six episodes. I think having the awareness of that enabled all of us to be really intentional about how we were moving in these last few episodes. I’m really grateful for that because I think that people are going to feel really satisfied with the ending. For all three of the girls, we leave them in a place that feels really correct.
On coming to a creative halt during the pandemic:
I don’t know about you, but it would almost felt like a slow buildup to the lockdown. I know for Katie, Megan, and I in the weeks leading up to it, we were all so anxious. We were like, ‘Something is happening in the world and the energy and the frequency with which we’re all moving, feels like it’s towards something.’
We were shooting the last two episodes of season four and we got a call one day that they were shutting down production. We all just had to basically pack up our apartments that we had been in for nine months and get out of the country. It felt like it came out of nowhere, but then in other ways, I think everyone knew what was coming in a weird way.
On being able to date someone who has opposing political views from her own:
It’s so hard because we live in this really specific moment right now where there’s so much like division. [Kat has] always felt like a very specific character to me. I’ve always known where Kat stands on things and that’s something I really love about her is that she speaks her mind. She’s not afraid to be really honest even if it’s hard for people to hear. When she entered into this relationship [with Eva], it immediately felt so out of character to me, but our job as an actor is to try to find the truth in something and to find the authenticity in whatever material we’re given, so I tried my best.
I was also really blessed to have a training partner [who’s] such a beautiful human and she brought so much specificity and honesty to that character that it was really hard not to like because she’s so wonderful. That story is it’s less about dating someone who might be different from you and it’s more about being able to still stand in your own truth. I think it’s important for us to be around people who might think differently to us, but it’s also really important for us to be able to continue standing in our own truth in those situations.
On Kat’s firing from Scarlet Magazine because of impulsivity:
I don’t mean to be shady. You know I love Kat but girl, you could’ve leaked it anonymously. Create an anonymous Twitter, it gets out there and you don’t know how it was released.
I think that’s always been part of the Kat. She’s not afraid to do something just because it might get her in trouble. If that’s her truth, she’s going to do it. I was also so sad and heartbroken when she had to leave the magazine, but I think Kat is not the type of person to take her failures as failures. She takes her failures, she takes them on the chin, and she immediately is trying to look for the lesson in it. This is no different. She got fired a couple of times. I think she needs to figure some stuff out, for sure.
On what she admires most about Kat’s character and what we can expect from her growth by the end of The Bold Type:
I’m going to try to do this without spoiling anything. When we were filming the season, I was like, ‘Don’t anybody tell me anything.’ I knew that people were getting outlined for the last couple of episodes, but I was like, literally tell me nothing, because I want to learn it in real-time. I consider myself a fan of the show so I was like, ‘Don’t ruin anything. It’s very important that I know nothing.’
The biggest thing for me with Kat is her ability to take her failures as lessons, which I think is true, for the show as a whole, but especially for Kat’s. It’s been really beautiful to see her go from this space where she was always confident from the get go and she had this air of confidence about her that was I thought so much cooler than me. I can’t believe they’re letting me play this character who is clearly got it together much more than I do, but in the first season, Kat’s confidence came from a place of naivety. It came from a place of not knowing that she’s supposed to be intimidated by these people in this boardroom. She just didn’t know.
Then as the season progresses, we see her moving to this different space of confidence and self-assuredness that really comes from a place of knowing that she’s supposed to be intimidated by these people, but she’s choosing not to be. The biggest part of her journey is her stepping into her power and natural-born leader and that she’s powerful and that she can use her privilege to fight the power. She doesn’t just have to be privileged and sit back.
Photo Credit: Sami Drasin