Welcome to the 15th installment of our 2021 Pride Month Series! Each day in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQ+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike — the positive voices within the LGBTQ+ community and in mainstream media.
Kat Edison, played by Aisha Dee, is a social media manager and activist from Freeform’s The Bold Type. As Scarlet Magazine’s former social media director, Kat was in charge of anything and everything social media, between Instagram, Twitter, and more. Her friends and coworkers, Jane and Sutton, made working there more fun, and the fashion closet made work much more bearable when she could vent about something going on in her personal or professional life. Her personal life is a complicated one, as in the earlier seasons Kat was struggling with her sexuality, but ultimately knew her place and who she belonged with. She’s always one to speak her mind and not back down from a fight, even if it costs her her dream job. Now in its fifth and final season, The Bold Type has only proven just how bold Kat can get, especially when it comes to her friends and beliefs. Keep reading to see why Kat Edison is being recognized in this Pride Month Spotlight.
In the first season, Kat is blossoming as Scarlet’s social media director. However, while working, she comes across Adena, a proud Muslim lesbian artist who pulled her feature story from the August issue. Kat begins to question her sexual identity as her feelings for Adena continue to grow. That complicates things further when she finds out that Adena has a girlfriend. In the fourth episode, Adena asks Kat to write her a letter of recommendation so she can extend her work visa and while taking a walk, a man makes a racist remark towards Adena. Kat then retaliates and is arrested for assault. After her boss, Jacqueline, bails her out, Kat and Adena reunite and kiss.
The following episodes shows them working out their feelings of guilt and trepidation after they spent the night together, and did a lot more than making out. As this is a new experience for Kat, she doesn’t know what she wants, but knows that she has strong feelings for Adena. She overcomes her fear of being in a relationship and is ready to take a leap of faith, but Adena reveals she’s leaving for Paris to reconcile with her girlfriend. While Adena’s in Paris, Kat continues to stay in contact with her but she finds out she wants to return to New York since she was unable to reconcile with her girlfriend. Adena chooses to go to South America instead after she’s unable to come back to New York and Kat decides to be with her. Seeing the beginning of their relationship and how Kat came into her sexual identity with the support of her friends was only just the beginning of a long journey for her.
As Scarlet Magazine’s social media director, Kat has the important role of being in charge of the magazine’s online presence. At the same time, though, Kat’s growing activism role gradually plays a big part in her job. In the third episode, Kat posts a gender inequality article online, finding herself a victim of internet trolling. While Jane and Sutton worry about Kat’s safety, her confidence trumps her worries. However, a troll uncovers a topless photo she took, which changes her outlook over the next few episodes. In the sixth episode, though, Kat starts a social media campaign to free the nipple and raise breast cancer awareness and testing. She takes what she went through and put it to good use, to raise awareness for something so important, while also supporting Jane, who may have the BRCA gene for breast cancer. Kat uses her status throughout the series to raise awareness about gender equality, feminism, body positivity and so much more.
Season 2 of The Bold Type sees Kat further exploring her sexuality. She comes back from her trip with Adena and she wants everyone to know she has a girlfriend whom she is blissfully in love with. While it seems like their relationship is doing well, as Kat soon introduces Adena to her parents, she meets some of Adena’s friends. However, Kat becomes anxious when Adena refuses to answer how many people she’s slept with. It makes Kat feel insecure, but after Adena admits that she hasn’t told Kat because she’s protecting herself and their relationship, they both admit that they love each other. Although their relationship may look stable, in the sixth episode, Kat makes out with one of Adena’s friends. She comes clean to Adena about it, and understanding what Kat’s going through, Adena realizes that her curiosity about women will not go away, though neither of them want to break up.
The following episode sees Adena suggest they have an open relationship in order to allow Kat to explore her sexuality. Their relationship over the next few episodes until the finale is complicated. Kat goes back and forth with the open relationship but she knows that she will always have feelings for Adena. In the season finale, she realizes that Adena produced work when she was not with her while in Paris. And when Adena doesn’t show up to a Fashion Week party, indicating that their relationship is over, Sutton and Jane tell Kat all the reasons they love her. Kat’s relationship with Adena will always be an important one to her, whether or not she truly knows how she feels. Seeing her struggle with her sexuality throughout the season, even if she was sure how she felt, shows that relationships can change, but her friendship with Jane and Sutton will always be one she can rely on.
Kat’s position at Scarlet is getting more important, as well as how she defines herself. In the second episode, she struggles with identity after Jacqueline asks her to write a bio about herself. Alex recommends she includes a blurb about her race, which she views as unimportant. Being mixed, she never really fit in with the “white crowd” nor the “black crowd.” Not completely one and not completely the other. But she doesn’t really care about that, which is why she didn’t feel it was important to write about it. She doesn’t want the color of her skin to define her, but rather what she does and what she’s done.
A few episodes later, Kat talks to Jane about her white privilege after Jane learns she did not get a job due to them wanting to increase their diversity hire. She is then tasked with the job to hire new staff. She’s not afraid to have some tough conversations with her friends. She speaks out about something that she sees is wrong. And speaking of which, in the eighth episode of season 2, Kat is asked to be the spokesperson of a skincare product. She does an ad for the product but then reveals the truth about the company, that they donate to conservative properties. Jacqueline encourages Kat to do ads for companies that inspire her, rather than the opposite. Kat is the type of person that won’t do something because she feels it’s not right. She could care less about a job if it’s not right. But she also won’t let that stop her from doing something.
Season 3 has Kat trying to move on from Adena following their breakup. At the same time, she starts to make some changes in her life, and possibly career. At the beginning of the season, she struggles to move on and realizes it’s time for her to start being honest about how she’s feeling. In the third episode, Kat volunteers for her local councilwoman who is running and she’s encouraged by her campaign manager, Tia, to help with her social media. The two of them start getting close as the season goes on, however, in the eighth episode, Kat runs into Adena while she’s at Scarlet. She confronts Adena later to talk about how their relationship ended and Adena reveals that what happened in Paris was a mistake, which leaves Kat conflicted about her feelings between Tia and Adena in the finale. She ultimately breaks up with Tia and decides to focus on herself before dating Adena again. Kat is still figuring herself out and figuring out who she wants to be with. Deciding to focus on herself is something that will go a long way for her and is the healthiest choice for her at that moment.
Meanwhile, as Kat is figuring out her feelings for Tia, she decides to run for councilwoman herself, with some encouragement from Jane and Sutton, realizing she actually has some good ideas and thinks she can really make a change. However, she is reluctant after realizing her past abortion could be brought up. And it’s not that Kat’s ashamed about her abortion, it’s that it could put her campaign at risk or be used against her in a smear campaign. But she hasn’t even told Jane and Sutton about it. After taking some time to think about it, Kat not only decides to own it but to make it part of her platform by vowing to shut down the Crisis Pregnancy Centers that traumatized her campaign manager when she had her own abortion.
A few episodes later, Kat and Tia are racially profiled while canvassing a neighborhood, but both want to approach the incident differently. While Kat wants to use her platform to shine light on racial profiling, Tia is hesitant. Kat does it anyway and posts a quick video to social media explaining what happened to them. Kat tries to get Tia to send her the video she shot of the confrontation but Tia doesn’t think they should post it, as she believes it would take the focus off them and Kat’s campaign. Tia soon gives in and sends Kat the video, but Kat later realizes that she was right. Kat apologizes and the two make up. In the penultimate episode, Kat ends up losing the election but then in the finale, she uses the issues she planned to explore if she won the election together with her job. She takes her job and what she’s passionate about and uses her voice and her platform to speak out and really make a difference. She takes the hard and heavy issues and uses it to make a change, no matter how much of a risk it may be.
In the fourth season, Kat is still focusing on herself, and having fun, but in the fifth episode after she hooks up with a girl who wasn’t her type, she gets too attached and breaks things off. A male bartender overhears her and offers her a free drink. The two of them hook up and in the following episode, Kat realizes she enjoyed having sex with him. While in the fashion closet at Scarlet with Jane and Sutton, she opens up about what happened and comes out as bisexual. Even though Kat doesn’t like labels, she feels this one is important so she can own her space. Though Jane and Sutton were very supportive of Kat, Adena had other thoughts. The two of them work together on a Scarlet project and Adena learns about Kat’s latest relationship with the bartender. Adena believes that bisexual people are sitting on the fence, that they’re just holding back the inevitable, so to speak. This makes things tense between them, up until Adena asks for Kat’s help with the Safford Board on something she was working on.
Later in the season, Kat starts a podcast with Eva, a Republican on the Safford board. Her relationship with Eva started rough, as Kat doesn’t necessarily agree with her views, but she couldn’t help but get close to her. The two of them get closer after doing a photoshoot for their podcast, but between the Belle, her new job, thinking she’s too controversial and Jane not supporting the endeavor, Kat breaks things off in the season finale. Kat went through a major realization this season when she came out as bisexual, fully realizing just who she is. She follows her heart because she knows it’s the right choice and she doesn’t care what other people think about her or her relationship.
Aside from Kat finding her true self this season, her activism has also found a way to her heart. In the third episode, Kat goes out of her way to help a transgender runner get into the New York City Marathon, talking to a member of the marathon committee into letting her run as herself by dropping into conversation Scarlet’s 3 million readers. In the following episode, Kat finds out that a sex toy company has been banned from putting up a billboard because it promotes female self pleasure. She goes on a tweeting spree to point out the disparity in treatment between the female product and ads for an erectile dysfunction medication. The company for the medication then threatens to sue Scarlet, and while Kat says she’ll change the message she’s putting out there, Jacqueline tells her she’s proud of her for promoting female pleasure and sexual independence.
Beginning in the eighth episode, Kat risks her career over the next few episodes. Following Kat and Adena’s tense fallout, Adena turns to her for help as a kid has died due to conversion therapy. The case is close to Adena since her father forced her to go to a camp but her mother got her out. Adena admits it’s why she was hurt by Kat’s bisexuality. The two of them try to convince the Safford board to let Adena highlight the life and tragic suicide of the kid but they fail, despite Jacqueline’s efforts. After Kat learns that board member RJ may likely be anti-gay, she thinks about exposing him, which could lead her to getting fired.
Wanting to threaten RJ with his tax returns, Kat and Adena confront him, but they find out that his daughter, Eva, is a powerful attorney. With Adena not being able to get into trouble with her visa, and she has to remain employed, Kat decides to take the brunt of the consequence since both her parents are medical professionals and with her run for office and work experience, she has a safety net. Which was good, since RJ resigned and the board decided to fire Kat. Following her firing from Scarlet, Kat has taken advantage of her parents being able to afford to pay her rent for three months. However, they soon threaten to cut her off. Kat rejects a job offer as it would have limited her activism. Season 4 proved just how far Kat is willing to go to make sure something that should happen, happens, and that everyone has equal opportunity.
The fifth, final and current season of The Bold Type begins with Kat breaking up with Eva, admitting that as a biracial queer liberal, she didn’t like what they were doing. The things that Eva believes and the things that she works to protect, are things that hurt people like Kat. She wants to be proud of who she’s sleeping with. Aisha Dee even took to Instagram last summer, confessing that “the decision to have Kat enter into a relationship with a privileged conservative woman felt confusing and out of character.” Even though that wasn’t who Kat was, Dee tried her best to tell the story with honesty. Kat breaking things off with Eva in the first episode of the season begins a new chapter in Kat’s life, and things are looking up for her in the following episode. While attempting to help an old classmate who’s having trouble getting a job because she’s an ex-felon, Kat comes up with an idea that leads her to reaching out to Adena.
The two of them work together to photograph several ex-felons and highlight their struggles since getting released from prison. While their request to put the portraits up at the Belle is rejected, Kat wants to proceed anyway. Adena’s cautious, which leads Kat to believe Adena’s dating someone who’s a bad influence. She goes to Adena’s place to later apologize, but she meets Adena’s mother, who doesn’t believe it’s worth it to risk everything for a cause. Adena disagrees. She and Kat come up with a way to showcase their photos without breaking the law and at the same time, they get closer. How much further they go is still up in the air, but I wouldn’t count those two out just yet.
While there are just three episodes left of The Bold Type, there is no telling where Kat’s story will take her and how her journey will come to an end. Kat’s activism and female empowerment will still be something she will always have, beyond the series, and her relationship with Jane and Sutton, no matter if they’re working together or not, will always be the most important one to her. With all of their talks in the fashion closet or at their place that they now all share together, Kat can always count on them. Whether or not the series ends with Kat and Adena being together, they will always care for one another and find a way back to each other, even after everything they’ve been through.
Throughout the five seasons, Kat has really come into her own, both professionally and personally. She’s struggled with finding herself and figuring out who she is, but deep down she knows she’s made the right choices, even if it didn’t feel right at first. Aisha Dee’s portrayal of Kat Edison has been a powerful and inspiring one over the years and it will be interesting to see how Kat’s journey comes to an end.
The final episodes of The Bold Type air Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT on Freeform. All five seasons are streaming on Hulu.