When talking about her The Bold Type character Sutton Brady, an assistant at the woman’s magazine Scarlet, actress Meghann Fahy seems proud of her character’s journey and her belief that hard work is paying off for her. The same could actually be said of Fahy as the Freeform series’ popularity continues to grow.
The focus of the show, currently in the middle of its first season, is on three friends working for that global woman’s magazine, Katie Stevens’ Jane (a newly promoted writer), Aisha Dee’s Kat (social media director) and, of course, Meghann’s Sutton — all of whom work for Melora Hardin’s Jacqueline Carlyle, editor-in-chief at Scarlet. Sutton is romantically involved with Sam Page's Richard Hunter, a member of the Scarlet board of directors and a lawyer for the company (which just screams conflict, doesn't it?). The show, describes Freeform, “explores their outrageous lives in New York City as they learn to find their own voices and explore their sexuality, identity, love and fashion.”
Meghann was born April 25, 1990 in Longsmeadow, Massachusetts. Her first acting role was as Dorothy Gale in a high school production of The Wizard of Oz, which led her singing at different events in her hometown. Moving on, she found herself cast as the standby to Jennifer Damian in Broadway’s Next to Normal in 2008, which eventually led to the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Other stage roles led to 81 episodes of the soap opera One Life to Live in 2010, followed by guest starring roles on a number of shows and in 2016 she was cast as Sutton in The Bold Type.
J-14: How did you come to be involved with the show in the first place?
Meghann Fahy: Well, I got an audition, so I put myself on tape in New York City and I sent it to LA. I got a callback and I taped myself again. Then I got a call saying that they wanted me to come out to L.A. and test for the show, which I did. Then I got back on a plane to go to New York and when I landed I turned my phone on and I had a bunch of messages from my agent and manager saying, "Call us as soon as you turn your phone on." They told me the good news.
J-14: Obviously steady employment is always a good thing, but was there anything special about this project that made you want to be a part of it?
MF: I think the script is really infused with positivity. The relationships were really interesting to me. I loved the Sutton and Richard relationship, which was playing against the stereotypical older man/younger woman in a workplace relationship. That was really cool. I loved the friendship between the three girls, the authenticity of that and the relationship — the mentorship — between the girls and Jacqueline. I hadn’t ever seen anything like this.
J-14: Were you drawn in by the concept of these women working at a woman’s magazine?
MF: Absolutely. I grew up reading Cosmo, so the idea that this show is sort of based off of that world and those people that create that magazine was really thrilling to me.
J-14: How do you view Sutton as a person? And how would you describe her arc over the course of the first season?
MF: Sutton is a really hard worker, a little bit modest I think, sometimes to a fault. It's hard for her to speak up for herself sometimes, so what we see her doing throughout this first season is asserting herself, taking risks, and seeing how that pays off.
J-14: As things are going on, do you feel she's evolving as a character?
MF: I think every single episode, all of the characters are evolving, you know? I don't think they ever stop evolving. They make mistakes a lot, which is what happens when you're a person who's alive, but just the way that they sort of handle themselves in those situations is what's really special. They really build each other up and support each other and hold themselves accountable for things and it's great.
J-14: How quickly did rapport between you and your co-stars develop?
MF: We met in New York before we shot the pilot. We had a couple of weeks up in Toronto before we started shooting and we spent a lot of time together to kind of get to know each other. We were really lucky. We're really good friends now. I saw Aisha yesterday and Katie's in Nashville, but I flew to Nashville for her birthday. We're very much a part of each other's lives in a real way, which is pretty cool.
J-14: Is that unusual, to spend that kind of time together before production begins? Because so often you hear people say they would get to the set, have a couple of days to rehearse, and boom, we’re in.
MF: I think it varies, but we were definitely really lucky that we did have some of that prep time to sort of acclimate to the new surroundings and hang out with each other and play music and have dinner and have sleepovers.
J-14: That must have benefited the show a lot.
MF: I believe it did, because the relationship with the girls is sort of the engine for the show. You can't really fake that chemistry, you know? I think people really respond to the authenticity of the connection that we have.
J-14: Traveling back through time a bit, your first acting role was as Dorothy Gale in a high school production of The Wizard of Oz?
MF: Yes, it was the senior class play. Everybody participates. I didn't do theater growing up. We didn't even really have a theater group in my high school, but every year they did the senior class play and everybody kind of participates, because it's a fun thing to do. We did The Wizard of OZ and I was Dorothy. I got to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and it was so fun.
J-14: How much of an impact did that have on you in terms of what you wanted to do?
MF: Well, to be honest with you, I grew up singing my whole life, so I had been performing for years. I always sort of thought that I would pursue that, you know? Then I got into acting by way of this Broadway musical Next to Normal that I did after I graduated high school. That brought me to New York and sort of set the whole thing in motion.
J-14: So what was sort of the impact of Broadway for you then? What was sort of the eye-opening aspect of that?
MF: That I think is the hardest schedule that I've ever had. That's saying a lot, because what we just did doing this show was really grueling. Long hours and all kinds of things, but when you're doing eight shows a week and you're singing for two and a half hours straight, there's so many things that you can't do. There were times when I was on vocal rest for a week. I couldn't speak to anybody. I had to write things down. You can't even make noise, so you have to really give up a lot to maintain the energy and that physical health that you need to do those shows. It's incredible.
J-14: You mentioned that you sang growing up, so being in front of an audience was nothing new, but was it different performing in front of the Broadway crowds?
MF:* I think both are storytelling, but they're totally different mediums, but when the two are married, like when you're doing a musical and you're telling the story through acting and singing, it's really awesome, but definitely a different vibe. Especially theater versus film or television, because you're getting immediate gratification from the audience and you kind of know where you stand with them in real time the whole way through.
J-14: You did a number of shows, so the question is whether or not you thought that was going to be your calling.
MF: I did actually go through an interesting thing with that where, because I had done the show, I sort of thought, “Okay cool, so I do this now. I do musicals.” I auditioned for a bunch of musicals, but found that I didn't really feel like I fit in a lot of those shows. It started to make me feel a little bit inadequate. Then I had to sort of look at myself and think what do I really want out of this? I think I love musicals, I love theater. I would love to do it again, but it just has to be the right show. Just because I did Next to Normal doesn't mean I'm just a person who does musicals now. I did have to learn that. I realized I didn't have to audition for every single musical that I was asked to audition for.
J-14: You next did 81 episodes of the soap opera One Life to Live. The pace of that would be seemingly insane.
MF: It is insane. I was only supposed to do two or three episodes and then I ended up staying on the show for a year. It was an incredible experience. I really learned a lot of useful tools with my time on that show. It's a lot of hard work. You're up early. You're there all day. It moves fast. You have to memorize a bunch of lines really quickly. I think I really honed my memorization skills on that show. Any audition that I have now, I feel like it's easier for me to learn the words because of my time on One Life to Live.
J-14: You followed that with a number of prime time guest star appearances. Was that a period of you trying to find the next thing for yourself?
MF: For a while, I didn't have a plan. It was more like I didn't expect that I would be in this situation, so let's just kind of see where it goes and see what sticks. That's kind of how I thought about things for a really long time. I think part of that is because I didn't really want to have to take ownership of it. I was afraid that if I said, "Yes, I'm an actor," what would happen if I was bad at it? I thought if I just kept saying, "Oh, I'm just seeing how it goes, because I don't know," then if I'm bad at it then nobody can hold it against me. It took me a really long time to finally feel good about saying, "Yes, I'm an actor. I chose to do this. I'm doing this."
J-14: Anything specific make you feel that way?
MF: I don't think it was a specific job or anything. I think it was just a realization, a personal realization, that I came to where I realized I'm pursuing this because I'm passionate about it and so it's time for me to own that.
J-14: How much did this show sort of come at a good time in the sense of owning that and really stepping up and being one of the leads?
MF: This show came at a great time. I had a rough go of it just before I started this show. I'm really grateful for that time, because it makes me really appreciative of just every single day waking up and getting to do something that I love.
J-14: With the show’s popularity, do you get uptight at all knowing people will be discussing it and you and your co-stars online?
MF: I will say it was strange at first. We were shooting up in Montreal for such a long time and the show hadn't aired, so we were sort of living in this little bubble where we were going to work every day and making the show, but not really thinking about the part where people see it and have opinions about it and are talking about it. That was a really strange feeling at first, but the truth is we're creating content because we want to start conversations. We're thrilled that people are talking about it and we want to hear what they have to say and we want to engage with them. Absolutely.
J-14: But is that scary at all?
MF: You have to just figure out how to let it roll off of you, because no matter who you are or what you do, somebody's always going to disagree with something that you're doing or saying or something that you think or believe. You have to respect that everybody is entitled to that opinion and also not let it seep into you and weigh you down.
J-14: To wrap things up, we're throwing the writers out of the writer's room. They're not involved anymore. If you have your way with Sutton, where do you want to see her go as a character?
MF: Well, I'm thrilled with her fashion storyline. I would really love to see her become even more independent. She's an assistant. She was an assistant before. I would love for her to get to a place where she really wants to be career-wise. Cat and Jane have sort of got their thing on lock, and Sutton's still kind of climbing the ranks as it were. So I'm really looking forward to see that pay off because, she's working so hard.
The Bold Type airs Tuesday nights on Freeform. For a safe space to obsess over celebs the same way you did when you were 14, join our J-14+ Facebook group.