Aisha Dee on what makes SBS' Safe Home so different: 'Never seen before'
The Bold Type star shares why she was drawn to Safe Home and why she loves working in Australia.
Aussie fans of The Bold Type will be excited to learn Aisha Dee is back on screens in SBS' new thriller Safe Home, a four-part mini-series focusing on family violence – and while it might not be a light and fluffy Saturday night watch, it's got a lot of heart and tells an important story.
Aisha stars in the show as Phoebe, a 20-something media professional who leaves her job at a prominent Melbourne law firm to work at a struggling family violence legal centre, where she tries to raise their profile to ensure their funding isn't cut. You also find out as the show progresses that she has her own back story to contend with.
Throughout the series, viewers are introduced to characters experiencing family violence in different ways, with the series making a point to show abuse can occur in many different ways from many different people.
Aisha shines in the role, bringing lightness to dark moments along with her co-stars Mabel Li, Virginia Gay and Thomas Cocquerel.
Speaking with Yahoo Lifestyle from her home in the US, Aisha shares her love of Australian film and TV, telling us, "That's the thing that I love about Australian film and television specifically – the way that as a culture, you know, we kind of tend to use humour to kind of deflect really intense emotions a lot of the time. And I love that that also kind of finds its way into the film and television that we make."
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She continues, "I love being in Australia. I think there's so much talent on all sides. There are so many talented actors, there are so many incredible practitioners and creatives and filmmakers, and I feel so blessed to call it my home, that's where I'm from.
"And I think kind of out of necessity, because we don't have a huge amount of resources even to get something funded in Australia, like you need the support of the government, and we don't just have millions of dollars to waste on silly things, you know. So we have to be creative about how we tell our stories. And I think that really makes makes the film and television that comes out of Australia so unique and so specific."
Exploring family violence in a different way
Speaking of what drew her to Safe Home, Aisha shares that the story was so different to other family violence stories, and she loved Phoebe, despite thinking she was a bit of a 'mess'.
"It was the fact that it was kind of exploring family violence and domestic violence in a way that I hadn't really seen before," she says. "Usually, I've read things in the past that are quite violent, and I guess we're still experiencing violence but reading Safe Home I found that it was getting into more of the grey area and the stories and the parts of the stories and the people that we often miss the things that are a little bit harder to spot."
She adds, "And then I just kind of loved the fact that Phoebe as the central character, she wasn't this like perfect, virtuous person who didn't have any flaws, you know, we see her make mistakes and mess up and make terrible choices for herself really. I mean, I read it, and I'm like, 'What are you doing? Can you get your act together?' But the thing I love about her is that even in all of those moments of chaos, she still constantly gets back up again and gives it another go and she never drowns in it. She is always willing to give it another go."
Aisha jokes, "We shot it a while ago, I feel like I can kind of look at her as my mate and I'm like, 'Gosh, she's a mess, I hope she gets it together!'"
Aisha reveals it's now more difficult to use her Australian accent
Some fans of The Bold Type may not realise Aisha is Australian, given the star has done so much work in the States, so unsurprisingly, it was difficult for the actress to use her Australian accent on a project.
"Being on set and doing an Australian accent is actually like, kind of, it takes a little bit more thinking for me now," she explains. "Just because I've been [in the US] doing this here for so long. And I rarely get to use my own accent here. But I think I also tend to just copy whoever I'm around.
"So luckily, I wasn't on set with a bunch of Americans, I actually got to speak with people who have my natural accent. And I think even just getting to spend time in Melbourne, I felt it come back. And it was actually really special to hear my own accent out of my body again in this natural way."
The star laughs, "It still jumps out, you know, if I've had a couple of glasses of wine or if I'm like mad at my mum or something, I'll get really ocker really quick."
Diversity on-screen and behind-the-scenes: 'Incredibly important'
One thing viewers will notice very quickly while watching Safe Home is the representation of all different types of people on screen, with Aisha sharing that it was 'incredibly important' for her.
"I think the older I get and I think the more tired I get, I just don't want to do something unless I'm surrounded by a diverse kind of melting pot group of people because that's my life, and I want to experience that in my work life as well," she shares. "But you know, it just felt really natural. It didn't feel like it was a matter of like ticking boxes as much as it was just finding the right people for the job."
Aisha adds that behind-the-scenes things were much the same, with most departments also being headed by women.
"There were so many queer people, so many people of colour around and everyone was really in it together, because the subject matter that we're exploring was, you know, I think triggering for everyone. Like, if you look at the statistics you have experienced it or you know, someone who's experienced it. So no matter what, I think it was really important that we all stick together and make sure that it was a safe environment to be able to explore these topics that can be quite confronting."
On 'letting go' of the story: 'Really intense'
The star reveals that while they finished shooting the show last August, she has only recently been able to 'let it go' as the subject matter was so heavy.
"Maybe part of that was being able to watch it and see it kind of outside of myself. I got to kind of say, 'Thank you and goodbye,' to those fictional characters that I know they're not real, but they feel like my friends, they feel really important to me. Yeah, so I definitely took [those feelings] home. And I think a lot of us did, you know, not just the cast, but also the crew. It was a really intense environment, but luckily, we had each other to rely on in that as well."
Aisha reveals she'd love to come back and work on more Australian projects, saying, "So much incredible stuff is coming out of Australia at the moment. I love that Safe Home is coming out in this moment as well, where we're seeing so much incredible new content being made and things that are also proudly Australian – things that embrace and celebrate our culture.
"And not just in the way that it's kind of been seen in the past, but in this really truthful and grounded way where we're seeing how beautifully colourful and diverse Australia is, it's a melting pot, and it's really beautiful to see the media is starting to really reflect that. I would love to come back to Australia soon."
All four episodes of Safe Home are now streaming on SBS On Demand.
If you or someone you know is suffering from sexual or domestic abuse, don’t suffer in silence, call 1800RESPECT for assistance.
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