When you watch Aisha Dee on Freeform’s The Bold Type, she proves herself to be a master of social media, appropriate since that’s her role working on the woman’s magazine at the heart of the show. In truth, however, Aisha admits that she’s about as far removed from the word savvy when it comes to the Internet as you can get. It’s actually just one example of the refreshing honesty that you get while talking to the 23-year-old actress (another being that one of the perks of the job is that she gets to pay her rent!).
Born in Gold Coast, Australia on September 13, 1993, Aisha is known for starring in the Australian-Canadian series The Saddle Club, as well as Dead Gorgeous, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Chasing Life and Sweet/Vicious. Now, on The Bold Type, she’s starring as Kat Edison, Social Media Director for the global woman’s magazine Scarlet. Her co-stars are Katie Stevens as Jane Sloan, a newly promoted writer at the magazine; and Meghann Fahy as Sutton Brady, an assistant.
J-14: Let’s start at the beginning, with how you ended up cast on the show.
Aisha Dee: I was working in L.A. at the time and this appointment came through. You know it was really fast. I went in and I auditioned and then a couple of days later, they asked if I could test and we tested and we poetry read and did all of that. I think the whole process was about three or four days. I had worked in a show for what was ABC Family at the time and is now Freeform Chasing Life, so I guess they kind of knew me and could trust that I'd be able to do the job. I got home from the test, sat down on my couch and they called me and were, like, "Hey, they want you to do it." It was very quick and painless. I was obviously attracted to the female friendship and just the fact that this character was so strong and had this vulnerability at the same time. I was so excited and, honestly, I'm still kind of trying to process the fact that I have a job. You know, I can pay my rent this year [laughs].
J-14: Always a good thing, for sure.
Aisha: Well, as an actor it's always, like, "Oh well, who knows? Maybe not. I don't know." Every time I finish a job, I'm, like, "Well that was nice while it lasted. I'll go back to Australia now." So having a regular job is definitely a factor, but I've been so lucky to have done so many projects that I feel so passionately about. When I did Chasing Life, I had already just started working for Stand Up To Cancer or something like that, and I was feeling so strongly about the subject of young people with cancer and Leukemia and kind of dealing with that. Then this show kind of fell into my lap. The same thing with this other show called Sweet/Vicious, and now this. It just always seems to kind of time out perfectly with kind of where I'm at in my life. That's why they happen, because they're meant to.
J-14: When you dig into this show and this character, though, what is the draw?
Aisha: Honestly, I have always been more attracted to characters that are strong and characters that make their own decisions and kind of direct their own life in the direction that they want to go. That's how I see myself and it's how I see my friends. We're all making our own decisions, not being pushed around by circumstances.
For myself even reading it, I was inspired by Kat. I was, like, "Wow, this girl has got guts! She's really, really out there. She doesn't care what anyone thinks." That was just so inspiring to me. I guess I was a little intimidated, actually, going into it, whether or not I'd be able to portray the confidence of this girl. The thing that's really beautiful about it is you can be confident and you can be all of those things. You can be strong, but you can also be vulnerable and you can also have your moments of feeling overwhelmed, too, and just because one exists, doesn't mean the other can't. It was just a really interesting, well-rounded character and it was something that felt right. It just felt really natural, like a natural progression for me.
J-14: You made the comment about you and your friends; that you're not being pushed around or pushed towards a career. You're doing the things you want to do. Is that hard to do? Is it hard to stand up for yourselves in this industry and not be pushed around?
Aisha: Oh yeah, absolutely. It's hard in any industry. I have friends back home in Australia that are writers and veterinarians and when you're starting out in your career, you feel like you've done the work. You feel like you know what you're doing, kind of, but you still know you're young and you have more to learn, so you have to walk this line of being open to learning, but also being confident and being assertive. Also, just like the way that these girls lift each other up. That's so true of how I've always experienced the world and how my friends are with me and how I am with them.
I'm in this group chat, like message thing. I've been in this group chat for years now. And it's just all my friends from high school, from back home. We all just keep each other updated on our lives and the tone of it is so similar to The Bold Type. It's almost uncanny. Somebody's, like, "I have a date tonight and I'm so nervous and I hate dates," and everyone's, like, "You're gonna do great! Wear that sexy red thing that you have!" And giving each other advice and really helping each other, because that's what we need. We need our friends to get through this weird life, you know?
J-14: Meghann Fahy told us that one of the most helpful things was that you, Katie and Meghann had some time before production began to really get to know each other.
Aisha: Well I met Meghann actually at the test, and audition situations are always very high pressure. But to be honest with you, I was a little too tired to be nervous. I hadn’t had that much sleep. So we were chilling, chatting and we just clicked right away and before I knew it, I totally forgot that I was at this very stressful audition, because I was there just making a new friend. In my head I was, like, "I don't know if I'll get it. I don't know if she'll get it, but this girl, I want to hang out with her and I want to be her friend outside of this job." And then she got it and I got it. I was so happy and then we all met Katie in New York. We went to see her boyfriend play a show. Just from that first night, it was very natural. It didn't feel like something that any of us had to work for. We just kind of had this natural chemistry, that it felt a lot like sisters.
These long hours that you work, especially on television with these hour-long dramas…They're always crazy. So you find yourself with these same two people at two in the morning and it's a subway station, wearing the world's worst shoes in that moment. You know, "Why are my feet sore?" There's something about that, too, that really bonds you and we also really help each other out, too. If one of us is having a day where we're feeling like "PMSy" or whatever, the other two are right there to help out and be, like, "What do you need?"
J-14: As a character, what kind of journey do you think Kat has been on and is going on?
Aisha: Kat, really has this idea of who she is in the pilot. She knows she's confident. She knows she's strong and that she can get it done when she needs to. I think maybe she's a little delusional in the beginning about how in touch with her emotions she really is. The kind of girl who kind of pushes the things away that feel a little icky. You know, like, "Oh love, that seems really scary. I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to have flings and whatever." She doesn't like being vulnerable or sad or angry. I think she really thrives on being confident and feeling really confident. So whenever something kind of rocks the boat, she just pushes it away. I think you see that in the pilot a little bit, but more so as the series goes on, these things start to happen that kind of force her to face whatever she's feeling and to actually feel it. Throughout the season, it's a slow progression, but she will slowly come to face her emotions more and not be so afraid of the ones that feel scary. There's some big stuff coming. It's a lot of stuff for her and for all three girls.
There's actually so much to say without spoiling it. I think what makes the drama so compelling is because these are really universal things that these girls are going through and these journeys are…I mean, I know I identify with it and I know my friends do, too. I don't usually tell my friends to watch my shows, because there are so many TV shows now. I'm like, "I don't expect you to watch what I'm doing," but all of my friends have been and I didn't even tell them to and they're soinvested. I think that the reason why is just because it's so easy to identify with what these girls are going through, even though it's heightened and no one has ever dressed that well every day [laughs].
J-14: She’s Social Media Director at the magazine. Do you identify with that at all?
Aisha: Since starting the show, I definitely did my research, because I'm a bit of a grandma when it comes to all of that stuff [both laugh]. I really am. Anyone would think I'm like an old woman trapped inside this body, because I am not that great at the social media thing, but I definitely learned a lot since doing the show. I think there is some aspect of social media that are really fun and amazing and social media has the power to do some incredible things. We saw that with Women's March. That's where it started.
A lot more people are being exposed to what's actually happening in the world, and I think that's really special. So I definitely understand the power of social media and I think Kat does, too. That's what attracts her to that department and to that job, is the power of it, because it's huge. To have millions of people seeing what you're saying or what you're posting from this thing that everyone carries around with them all day — it's a pretty powerful position to be in, but in terms of being savvy with technology, that's definitely not my story (laughs).