Our mums' generation had boxy power suits and Working Girl. Millennials have iPhone Xs and the trio of go-getting girlbosses storming the set of The Bold Type. The new Prime Video series takes place in the glamorous Manhattan offices of fictional women's glossy Scarlet, a magazine striving to marry feminism with fashion. Working hard to make that happen is Scarlet's new social media director, Kat, played with roaring confidence by Australian actress Aisha Dee.
Dee, who just started filming season 2, spoke to Refinery29 over the phone to break down the secret to Kat's success — but hinted that next season will delve deeper into her character's psyche and explore whether or not this career girl really does have it all figured out. Roll on season 2!
The character you play on The Bold Type, Kat, is really motivated and driven when it comes to her work. Is that something you can relate to? What's been the major lightbulb moment for your own career?
People generally don't believe me, but it's absolutely true: The moment when I knew [I wanted to act] was when I was watching Sesame Street at, I don't know, [age] 4 or 5 maybe. I was still living in Australia at the time, sitting in front of the TV and I asked my mum, 'Where are these kids? Where is Sesame Street? Can you tell me how to find it?' And she was like, 'No, they're actresses and actors. This show is filmed in New York'. And in that moment I was like, 'Oh good, well, I'm going to be an actress and I'm going to move to New York'.
But even though I was very determined at the time, I never really believed that I would do it. Somehow I am, and I'm very grateful for that. I really relate to Kat in the way that she hustles; I consider myself similar in that way. My work is everything to me. It's what I'm most passionate about. For Kat, it's something she's naturally good at and she's been raised to believe that she's incredible in every possible way. She carries that confidence into the workplace and it's inspiring — and a little scary — for me to play it. I hope that young girls everywhere — now all over the world, because we're getting released in so many countries — can be inspired by that.
Kat is a woman of colour — and also someone exploring her sexual identity — in the media industry at a time when there's a big push to hear more diverse voices. What does that mean to you?
Society is realising how important diversity is. I've always felt that way, and it was one of the main reasons why I wanted to do this [show]. I looked at TV shows and movies — and I've always loved art in general, paintings and music — and I always struggled to find myself and see myself represented.
The older I've gotten, the more I've realised how important it is that we also see ourselves represented in a multitude of ways, not just the same way over and over again. We need to believe that we can live whatever kind of a life we want to. I love seeing Kat as this strong, independent girl with so much determination, but she's not perfect, either. She's allowed to be flawed and she's allowed to have bad days. I get girls coming up to me on the street all the time saying how Kat has inspired them. I feel a bit lame, but I get teary-eyed. Growing up I wanted to see myself. I'm getting emotional now.
Are you as plugged into the world of social media as Kat is?
I'm not really much of a social media chick, but I've started to become one a little bit through doing the show and researching. I didn't know that much before. I know more now, but I still feel like I'm a bit of a nerd about it. It's interesting — the stuff that becomes viral is never the stuff you would expect. But social media sees the rise of a different kind of pop culture, and everyone can find things that are kind of tailored to them and their experiences. I know people are able to find their own world in social media, which I think is really special.
The show touches on social media issues like trolls and online shaming. Have you had any experience with that?
Of course. I think that whether you're a celebrity or not, the internet and social media are a really easy way to tear someone down from behind a screen. I've definitely experienced a lot of that over the years. But I feel lucky that I have people in my life to remind me that it's not real. You just learn to develop a way of putting [the criticism] in its box and not taking it too seriously. Because it's just Instagram. It's just pictures, or 140 characters — wait, how many characters is Twitter now? Like, 500?
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