Welcome to Role Call, where we call up TV’s leading ladies to talk about their most vital, memorable, and feminist episodes.
Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) and Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan). Petra Solano (Yael Grobglas) and Jane Ramos (Rosario Dawson). Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) and That Very Nice Driver With Gina Rodriguez’s face (her name was Alice). All of a sudden, the best TV shows are filled with young women exploring their bisexuality later in life, often in interracial relationships. But, once spring arrived and those fall series’ seasons came to a close, we also lost all of those couples to their hiatuses.
Thankfully, one series is carrying that much-needed torch into the summer months: The Bold Type, thanks to fan-favorite couple Kadena. One half of the Freeform ship is the biracial Kat Edison (Aisha Dee), a queer woman just realizing she is queer, and the other is artist Adena El Amin (Nikohl Boosheri), a Muslim woman and immigrant who has always known she is a lesbian and has always been proud to be a lesbian.
As queer women’s TV representation drops during the hot weather months — and our current political atmosphere makes it all the more necessary to see stories like theirs— Kadena is the love story to root for right now.
The woman who brings Adena to life, Nikohl Boosheri, explains best what makes her character so special. “She normalizes [a lot] in this crazy time where people seem to be afraid of change and anyone who is different from themselves,” the Canadian actress told Refinery29 over the phone. “She really normalizes this notion of a Muslim woman, a feminist, a lesbian woman. She really challenges all sorts of stereotypes that we’ve seen about these kinds of people.”
That’s because Adena doesn’t fit into a box, as Boosheri said, and neither does her on-screen girlfriend Kat. Kat spent an entire episode, season 2's “Rose Colored Glasses,” explaining why she avoided boxes all together as a biracial child. Last week’s “OMG” explored Adena’s fears as a Muslim woman from a Muslim-majority country living in America. The artist is terrified over over scary immigration policies, which keep her from returning home for her mother’s birthday, and the fact that the U.S. “doesn’t want her.” During a summer when the Supreme Court upheld Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” and immigrant children are being held in cages, those kinds of fears ring truer than ever.
“That’s why the response has been so positive,” Boosheri, who was born in Pakistan to Iranian parents before moving to Canada, explained of Kat and Adena’s struggles. “Because people are like, ‘Oh, that feels real. I know people like that. I recognize that from my world.’ There has been this disconnect for a while now where film and television wasn’t always reflecting what America looks like today.”
Adena’s tough immigration story even reflects Boosheri’s own life. Last year, the Freeform star was “nervous” about whether she would be able to remain in America or if her family would be able to visit her. “It feels like the writers have bugged the rooms or something,” she said with a laugh. “I’m very close with my mother, and being apart from her for long periods at a time is really stressful and difficult.”
That is why Adena’s “OMG” closing scene with Kat where she reveals all of this anxiety was so “beautiful” for Boosheri. “I totally could relate to how Adena was feeling,” she confirmed, teasing a possible “positive” conclusion ahead for The Bold Type season 2. “It was really emotional for me and so lovely to do those kinds of scenes with Aisha because we have a chemistry, a connection.”
Speaking of Kadena’s connection, that too reflects Boosheri’s experiences as an immigrant in North America. “I do think there is a special connection when you’ve felt like an other in your life and a bond you can form with others who have felt that way,” the actress said. “There’s a beautiful support you can offer when you understand someone’s plight, and you get to see that play out between the two women.”
While Kadena does create lots of necessary conversations in this day and age, they’re also simply a very lovable couple. It’s necessary to recognize as much, since the pair deserves to have as much simple fun as their far less politically charged counterparts in pop culture. As Boosheri said, “Adena and Kat’s relationship is very passionate … There are always those people who are like magnets to us, and that’s what these two people are together.”
“I think many of us have experienced that at some point or another where [people] are like, ‘What? You did what? You said what after one month? You moved in after how long?’ You just can’t really explain it, and that’s what they are to each other. It’s just a really fun.”
Considering how well viewers have responded to this “fun” couple, Adena’s portrayer has her fingers crossed Kadena's popularity will serve as a message to the people holding the TV purse strings. “I hope that it is a push to creators [and] investors … that there is a thirst and a hunger for 'non-traditional' characters and relationships,” Boosheri said. “I hope we have many more.”
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