Pop City Life recently caught up with Aisha Dee (Chasing Life), who’s returning to Freeform in the new series The Bold Type. We talked feminism, sexual identity, social media, and more! Read on for our full interview with Aisha Dee.
First off, can you talk a bit about The Bold Type in general and your character Kat specifically?
Aisha Dee: The Bold Type is basically about this magazine and the people who work at the magazine as they’re kind of navigating their lives and careers and where they want to go. Kat is the head of social media at the magazine. She’s pretty young to be the head of a department, but she’s not afraid of anyone, she speaks her mind, and she’s very confident!
In the first episode, Kat meets Adena, a Muslim lesbian photographer working to dismantle the false dichotomy between being a practicing Muslim woman and being a unique individual with personality and opinions. Adena seems like an especially important character in the climate of the times – how will we see her continue to educate Kat and challenge Kat’s preconceptions?
It’s interesting because there’s this idea that Western feminism is the only feminism, but there’s feminism all over the world and women express their power in different ways. For Adena, she’s not willing to deny any part of who she is to fit what people expect her to be. She’s also in a position of power through her work and she doesn’t meet a lot of people who can match that, which is one of the things that draws her to Kat.
Meeting Adena prompts Kat to question her sexual identity, which is interesting because most of the characters we see grappling with a sexual identity crisis are teens who don’t necessarily have Kat’s confidence or openness.
That was one of the things that I loved when I was reading the pilot. Kat isn’t sort of starry-eyed – she’s really sure of herself and thinks she knows who she is. Since doing the show, I’ve talked to quite a few women who have had that experience of wanting to be with a woman for the first time in their 20s and 30s, and it’s important to see that reflected in the media.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen teen- and/or female-focused magazines stepping up to report on political and social issues. Was it surreal to work on a show about a magazine doing that at the same time as something so similar was happening out in the real world?
Yeah, it’s amazing because I grew up reading Cosmo and Teen Vogue and typical teen magazines. For me, they were a way to connect with women around the world and a reflection of what was going on in the world. Every episode of The Bold Type is kind of like opening the latest edition of one of those magazines! It’s important to go into social issues and embrace intersectional feminism, so it’s great that we do that on the show.
As an actress, you’re used to being the subject of an article, rather than working behind the scenes in a journalistic or social media management capacity. How has the role of Kat influenced how you view the media, as well as your relationship to it?
It really has brought up a lot of questions for me that were kind of in the background before, particularly with navigating your career versus your personal life – which I think people can relate to across the board – as well as questions about what social media really means in society right now. You know, [social media] can really start a movement, and on the show, we get into the lightness and the darkness of that.
Speaking of social media, your Instagram is beautiful!
Oh, thank you! I love taking photos, so Instagram is probably my favorite app on my phone. I like the idea of creating an aesthetic and taking pretty pictures, and I love how we can connect with people via Twitter and Instagram. I’m still figuring out social media – I go through phases where I want to be on it all the time, but sometimes I want to step away from it and see things with my own eyes and kind of live in the real world.
Lastly, much like your Chasing Life character Beth, Kat seems like an independent woman with a strong personality. What are the biggest similarities and differences between you and Kat? Do you think you’d get along with Kat if you met her in real life?
I guess we are pretty similar. I’m fiercely defensive of my friends and will do anything for them, and we see that in Kat too. I also just kind of talk – I don’t really have a filter, and Kat doesn’t seem to either. It’s amazing how confident she is in certain situations, and I love that I get to channel that. She’s an inspiration to me, and I hope people watching are inspired by her. Since we’ve been filming, I’ve actually noticed a change in my own confidence.
It’s awesome that it can be a reciprocal experience – you’re giving life to the character and also getting something back.
Definitely – with every series I do, I always learn something from [playing a character].
Thanks to Aisha Dee for chatting with us! Keep up with Aisha on Twitter and her aforementioned Instagram, and don’t forget to tune in to The Bold Type Tuesdays at 9/8c on Freeform (after The Fosters). For more from The Bold Type, check out our interview with Meghann Fahy.