The Bold Type may have only hit Stan a few weeks ago, but it is already making waves for its hilarious depiction of life as a 20-something-career woman, as well as its willingness to tackle issues like sexual and racial identity, online trolling and white privilege. One of show’s ever-so-relatable characters is the feisty yet vulnerable Kat, who is played by none other than Aussie actor Aisha Dee. Below, she chats all about the reaction to the show, her similarities to Kat and the importance of diversity on screen.
POPSUGAR Australia: Hey Aisha, loving the show! How’d you go from starring on The Saddle Club as a child, to playing a main character on an American TV show?
Aisha: [Laughs] Well I’ve been working and doing different shows for I guess about ten years now, and unfortunately most of them got cancelled very swiftly! Honestly, it’s just been a lot of hustle, and a lot of missing birthdays, and missing weddings, just trying to work my little booty off! [Laughs] I guess with this one [The Bold Type] people are actually watching, and I love that it’s available in Australia now. My little brother works in the city in Melbourne, and he’s been texting me pictures of all the billboards that are around now, and he tells anyone who goes into the store he works in “that’s my sister!” My friends from high school as well are all like “oh my god!” [laughs] Everyone’s very excited. I think a lot of my family didn’t believe I was actually over here acting, like they kind of thought I was lying about it because the show wasn’t on in Australia! I love that this one is available now for everyone and streaming, so everyone has access to it . . . well, everyone with Stan!
PS: You clearly share your ambition with your character, Kat. What else can you relate to about her?
Aisha: Yeah, I think we are both people who really throw ourselves into our work, and we both maybe do use it as a distraction from personal stuff. I know that when my personal life is falling apart, that’s usually when my work life is thriving. You see that a lot with Kat in season one, she uses work as a way to distract herself from her romantic problems. After one of my brothers watched the pilot episode, he quoted a line from the show to me – “you use humour to hide from your emotions.” I think in the moment I was like, “no I don’t!” but I absolutely do joke to get through the tough emotional stuff in life. So, there is a lot I identify with in Kat. We did have very different upbringings, I didn’t come from privilege growing up in New York like Kat did, but there is a vulnerability to Kat I think everyone can identify with. It’s a big reason why I wanted to do the show in the first place.
PS: Speaking of Kat’s personal life, in season one we see her explore her sexual identity, and in season two she grapples with her racial identity as well. Diversity is something we still want to see a lot more of in both the media and entertainment industries. What does being able to represent diversity on screen mean to you?
Aisha: Well diversity was a big reason why I was motivated to be an actor from the very beginning. I think people have a hard time believing this, but honestly the moment I realised I wanted to act was when I was sitting with my mum in our little studio apartment in Surfers Paradise watching Sesame Street. We had just gotten a TV from the op-shop and it had terrible reception but I would watch Sesame Street. The kids on the show were kind of the only kids I’d really seen who looked like me. It’s very different now, but Surfers Paradise in the 90s’ was not the most diverse place. Watching the show was the first time I’d ever seen that kind of diversity. I asked my mum where Sesame street was, and she said New York. I said, “well how did those kids get on Sesame Street?” and she explained that they were actors. I kind of decided then and there that that was what I wanted to do, and like I said, no one ever believes me that that’s how it happened [laughs] but it’s somehow worked out! I think to be a face for young girls to see and identify with is really important to me, because I know how meaningful it was for me to see myself reflected on screen. I just hope that young girls now are watching the show, seeing our diverse characters and feeling empowered by that, because I know I was.
PS: Absolutely. Another thing I think the show nails is its depiction of female friendship, especially considering media has typically been portrayed as a bitchy industry in pop culture. How did you, Katie Stevens (Jane) and Meghann Fahy (Sutton) form your chemistry that is so evident on the show?
Aisha: I wish I had an answer for that but honestly from the first night we met, we just clicked and understood each other. We also worked really hard to be each other’s cheerleaders on set when we needed it, it was really important to me going in that we would be a reflection of what we want to see, and I think the show is that too. There is a level of wish fulfillment to it as well, not everyone gets to live this charmed, wonderful life in New York that these girls have, but there’s something about that that is really comforting to us as viewers. I wish I had some kind of formula to our chemistry, if I could figure out how to get along with everyone in the entire world then I could solve wars and stuff! But honestly I think I just respect them a lot. We haven’t actually seen each other in about a month and we keep Face-Timing each other talking about how sad we are that we’re not in the same city right now! I love them a lot and I think I just approached it how I approach my own friendships in life, in that you just have to accept each other, help each other when you need help . . . and also just leave each other alone if needed! [laughs]
PS: Love it! Lastly, how was your life changed since The Bold Type started?
Aisha: You know, I get this question a lot, I think people think I’m some kind of successful celeb now or something! But before this interview I was trying to figure out how to work the coin laundry in the hotel I’m staying in. I was sitting there on the floor trying to get my laundry into the machine, and there’s nothing like that to bring you back down to earth! I guess people come up and tell me they like Kat and all that, but honestly credit to my mum, I’ve got a pretty good head on my shoulders! Not much has really changed, I am still just out there hustlin’.