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Katie Stevens Explains Why We Need a Show Like 'The Bold Type' Right Now


If you never watched a movie about a woman who worked at a magazine and wished you could be her…well, who hasn’t done that? These types of films dominated the 2000s; they’re part of the reason why I wanted to be a writer. But they’re not exactly realistic. In the years since I fell in love with this genre, magazine-set flicks have become harder and harder to find. Here to fill the void (in a much more realistic manner) is Freeform’s newest series, The Bold Type.

The Bold Type follows Jane (Katie Stevens), Kat (Aisha Dee) and Sutton (Meghann Fahy) as they navigate the world of Scarlet, a women’s magazine largely based on Cosmopolitan. Not only is this show great if you’ve been looking for employees of a fictional magazine to obsess over, but it’s also extremely timely, tackling women’s issues, politics and sex in a way that 2017 necessitates.

I had the pleasure of talking with star Katie Stevens about how the show portrays feminism, friendship, flings and more.

Can you tell us about your character, Jane?

Katie Stevens: Jane is a newly promoted writer at Scarlet. She’s dreamed of being at Scarlet her whole life. She used to eat up the magazine when she was little because it was the only kind of female energy that she could get in her life, so in a way, it was like her mother or her sister that she didn’t have. I think she’s very Type A. She sets a lot of high expectations for herself, and through the course of the show, you’re going to see her kind of have to come to terms with the fact that she’s not always going to live up to her own expectations and kind of having to let go of that perfectionism and really learn from her mistakes and draw strength from them just so that she can become better.

The Bold Type is obviously set in the magazine world. How does it differ from other shows and movies where the characters work at a magazine?

KS: Well, we’ve done a lot of research working with Joanna Coles and Holly Whidden from Hearst and Cosmopolitan, and we got to tour the Cosmo offices and I got to speak with a lot of the writers there and kind of get what their day-to-day is, what their experiences are, how often they get stories shut down, and really do our research so that we could make sure that this was an authentically made show.

And I think that a lot of the magazine things that you see—granted, like Devil Wears Prada came from somebody’s personal experience, but it was still very much in the How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days [category], like all of these magazine movies that we’ve had that are so iconic but kind of put a little bit of a cliché on writing at a magazine. So hopefully what people see in our show is the ups and downs of working in the magazine industry and knowing that all of the storylines that we’ve done have come from an influence of being actual experiences that these writers and people who work at Cosmo have actually had.

So that was going to be my next question: what kind of research you did with Cosmo. But did you get to shadow any writers that write at women’s magazines before you started filming?

KS: I didn’t get to shadow. I mean, I did some work of like trying to sit down and write my own Cosmo-esque article and failed miserably. It’s very hard; I commend anybody in the media-writing world. It’s a very hard thing to do. And I find that when I was doing it, anything I wrote I was judging myself. And I was like, “Ugh, this is stupid.” So I really do commend anybody who is a writer.

But I did get to go to the offices and talk to writers, and they gave me their emails in case I had questions. But it’s funny because I was trying to tell them about storylines that the [Bold Type] writers had planned and they’re like, “Oh, yep. That’s something they asked us. That’s something that happened to me.” So it was cool because even though I went to Cosmo I think only twice, I really did get to talk to the writers and ask them questions.

And Holly Whidden and Joanna Coles have been so kind, and Holly has always been so open to allowing us to ask them questions. You know, she was talking about how real it is, like that boardroom scene where we’re talking about the article with the sex positions. Like, they really have to go up to like these old men in suits and present these storylines, and it is as awkward as it appears on our show.

The show also isn’t afraid to tackle politics and issues that affect women. Do you think that audiences are more receptive or eager for this type of show in the age of President Trump?

KS: I mean, I think that it’s great that the show is coming at the time that it is. You know, I’m always that person that I try to like shy away from talking about politics just because I never want people to feel like I’m pushing any sort of agenda out there or onto them. I never want to feel like I’m hammering someone over the head because they believe something different than I do. But I still do really feel that a show like this is necessary because we’re not bashing people over the head with it; we’re just kind of bringing these issues to light and allowing a conversation to be had. And I think that it’s a perfect time because I feel like women are being more outspoken and fighting for what they want and asking for what they want at younger and younger ages. And that’s exactly what these women are doing.

And you know, with the topic of feminism, I think feminism has such a stigma to it. People think that if you’re a feminist that you hate men, you know? And I think that’s so false because I think men are very much a part of the feminist movement. I mean, I did the Women’s March, and my boyfriend came and my friends and they had their boyfriends and their dads. And you know, so many men are a part of that and there are so many men who encourage the women in their lives. And I’m fortunate that that is the situation that I am in. I know that’s not everyone’s situation, but I am so fortunate that I have my dad and my brother and my uncles, my cousins, my boyfriend. Like, I have all of these men who encourage me to be an outspoken woman with an opinion that’s valued. And I think that that’s so much of what this show shows. It shows women who are empowered empowering other women to be better, and we have men on the show who empower women to be stronger and appreciate strong women. So I think hopefully we can remove the stigma away from feminism because I think everybody should be able to call themselves a feminist. Because feminism to me just means women being on an equal playing field as men.

You also don’t shy away from talking about sex on the show. Do you think it’s important to make sex of a less taboo topic for women to talk about, and how do you think The Bold Type is doing that?

KS: I think sex in our culture has always been perceived kind of like a weird subject and people get uncomfortable, and I just feel like that’s such learned behavior in our society even though it’s just something primal and something that’s just in our nature to have and do. And I think a lot of times in our society, you have shows [like] 16 and Pregnant that are showing the dangers and the scariness of sex. And I feel like it’s also important to show that you can have a healthy sexual life and it not be something that’s taboo or scary or uncomfortable. Because everyone does it, and I think it’s important to have a conversation and make people feel comfortable to talk about it.

I know growing up it was always seen as like this scary thing that we don’t talk about. Granted, now I can have a conversation with my mom about sex and it’s not weird. But I wish that I had that open forum when I was in high school and I had questions. So I think there will be some level of people that are shocked by the things that we deal with on our show in terms of sex and the things that we show, but I think that it’s healthy. I think some parents are going to be like, “You can’t watch that,” and kids are going to watch it anyway. And I hope that they watch it and they feel more comfortable to talk about it and feel more comfortable in their own skin when it comes to being sexual and discovering your sexual identity.

Moving on to the friendship aspect of the show, a lot of scenes between Jane, Kat and Sutton happen in Scarlet’s fashion closet. I’m wondering how we’ll see the girls’ friendship grow and develop outside of the fashion closet as the season goes on.

KS: A lot of what you see is us at work, but then you’ll have scenes like [in the second episode], they showed a scene where we’re all watching porn in Jane and Sutton’s apartment. So you’ll get scenes like that. But a lot of what happens this season, you know we deal with a lot of things in the workplace and we help each other through a lot of difficult things that happen. Sorry to be cryptic; don’t want to give anything away.

What I love about their friendship is there’s nothing that happens—I feel like a lot of female friendships on television they’re portrayed [like] they’re best friends but then somebody backstabs someone and then they’re in a fight and then they make up. I think we [portray] female friendship in the way that it truly is. Where it’s like if you have your best friends and you guys get into an argument, you get into an argument, you’re mad for five minutes, and then you’re like, “Hey, I’m sorry. I’m feeling like this and I really love you and I’m really sorry that happened.” And then you move forward.

That’s what I love about our show. There’s no backstabbing, there’s no crazy fights that we get into. We just encourage each other and try to make each other better. So I like that we’re reflecting that way. Because all of the female friendships I have in my real life are also supportive and wonderful. So I want to see more of that on television, so I’m happy to be on a show that’s showing that.

So I have to ask about Pinstripe Guy. Is he going to be a permanent fixture in Jane’s life, or is he just a fling? I’m hoping that he’s more than just a fling.

KS: He’s more than just a fling, but you’ll just have to see how it progresses because I think Jane has a perception of who he is. You know, she’s very Type A, she’s got to let go of a lot of these expectations and preconceived notions that she has about people, and he is one of those preconceived notions. So he’ll be around for a while.

And they couldn’t have picked a better actor. Dan Jeannotte is like the best human, and we’ve had to do some difficult scenes together but he’s always made me feel so safe and comfortable. He’s just a wonderful person, so I’m very thankful to have him as my opposite.

Melora Hardin’s Jacqueline is not the typical boss that we’ve seen depicted in these types of magazine workplace stories in the past because she’s actually supportive of Jane and her colleagues. Do you think this representation of a female boss and women helping women is more akin to real life?

KS: I’ve never worked in a workplace like that, so I can’t speak on that perspective, but I will say that all of the female mentors per se or adult figures that I’ve had in my life have always been very supportive. And I think that’s something that they’ve captured so beautifully about Joanna Coles is like Joanna Coles is very intimidating but she has this warmth and encouraging nature about her. And I think so often we’re so quick to see boss characters perceived on television that are bitchy and not supportive, so I think it’s important to show that your bosses are always going to be intimidating because they’re bosses and your future is kind of in their hands in a way. But I think it’s important to show that there are people that will encourage you and push you to be better through that intimidation. Rather than just being mean and just asking for things from you and threatening to fire you and the things that we’ve typically seen from other iconic boss characters. So hopefully this kind of changes that and switches that.

The Bold Type airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Freeform.

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