Dee, 26, portrays the queer and bi-racial character Kat Edison. Her character often fights for equality for marginalized or underrepresented communities.
“The Bold Type” actress said although she came from a mostly white and conservative area in Australia, her character inspired her “to be better.”
“For the first time in my career, I got to play a character who was centered in her own narrative,” Dee wrote in a statement. “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 from her friends. Kat Edison: unapologetic, outspoken, brave, the woman I always wished I could be.”
The Australian actress then acknowledged that her character inspired her to “influence change.”
Dee continued: “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.”
The actress called out specific instances in which she felt there should have been more diversity.
“It took two seasons to get a single BIPOC 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,” Dee wrote.
She added: “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. In four seasons (48 episodes) we’ve had one Black woman direct two episodes.”
“It took three seasons to get someone in the hair department who knew how to work with textured hair,” she said of her curly locks. “This was so 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 set and feel as though their hair is a burden. It is not.”
Dee also criticized her character’s latest plot in which she sparks a romance with a conservative, white woman. She called the storyline “confusing and out of character.” The actress also said it was “heartbreaking” to have her character fall for someone “who is complicit in the oppression of so many.”
“I’m critical because I care, because I’ve seen firsthand the incredible impact of this show, and I believe in its potential to be better,” she concluded.
In a statement to Variety, producers of “The Bold Type,” Freeform and Universal Television voiced their support amid the criticism.
“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,” they said.
A source also told the outlet that in season 2 there was a lesbian woman of color and in season 3 there was a bisexual woman of color on the staff. They also said in season 4 three writers identified as LGBTQ+ and five writers were people of color. The source added the writers’ room was primarily female.