Grantchester's Kacey Ainsworth on outdated stereotypes of women in the workplace: 'I don't recognise this'

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Jesse Wallace and Kacey Ainsworth during The 2006 British Academy Television Awards - Press Room at Grosvenor House in London, Great Britain. (Photo by Richard Lewis/WireImage)
Jesse Wallace and Kacey Ainsworth during The 2006 British Academy Television Awards. Photo by Richard Lewis/WireImage

Kacey Ainsworth, best known for her roles as Little Mo in EastEnders and Cathy Keating in Grantchester, has spoken out against 'outdated tropes' that pitch women against each other.

The actor said that working with all-women casts has helped her realise that many people are raised on stories of women being bitchy in the workplace.

Speaking to Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time, the actor also opened up about how she has learned so much more about autism since her son Elwood's diagnosis.

WATCH: Kacey Ainsworth on smashing stereotypes on EastEnders, Grantchester and neurodiversity

She spoke about the importance of changing the stereotypes of women that so many are raised with.

She said: "If you remember all those years ago, when we were starting out they said: Oh, the Spice Girls?Nobody wants female pop bands, it's only boy bands. Nobody will buy their records!"

"The stuff that's been misrepresented! 'Girls don't get on', 'girls are bitchy'.

"I've been in two jobs where it was all female casts. I can't tell you how many people went: 'Oh, how was that?!' and I went: 'It was absolutely fabulous!' 

"And I have to tell you, we went out again. We enjoyed ourselves so much on the first run, that we all went out again. And none of us needed to go out again. 

LISTEN to the full episode to hear more about working with Robson Green and her early acting career

"But we said: 'Yeah, we'll go out again, we want the same the same cast, because we really enjoyed ourselves.' 

"And so I think there's so much that we've that we've grown up with, that's in our bones, that people tell us about how women are. You know: 'Women are bitchy in the workplace'. What the hell is all that about? 

"It's never been my experience! And you think where did this come from? Where did these outdated tropes come from that we listen to? 

"And it's because you pitch people against one another, you pitch young against old you pitch, females against other females and then you can say you've got a [get out] clause or something.

"I don't know why we've had to put up with this. But I'm loving the fact that now we've got internet and Twitter and Instagram, we can have our own voices and say: "I don't recognise this, this isn't part of my life.'

Kim Medcalf, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Michelle Ryan and Kacey Ainsworth of
Kim Medcalf, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Michelle Ryan and Kacey Ainsworth of EastEnders. Photo by Tim Whitby/WireImage

"And if it has been part of my working life, it's normally from somebody who has had to fight tooth and nail to get to be recognised themselves. So it's come from a place of, you know, actually literally having to fight to get one decent line. I look at some of the other artists that I've worked with, and they're just amazing!"

She also talked about her Grantchester co-star Robson Green, who has been instrumental in helping her be able to develop the character of Cathy Keating that she plays in the show.

Read more: Kacey Ainsworth gives honest account of raising her son who has autism

She said: "I absolutely adore him. He is one of the most underrated actors in this country. 

"Everything I've ever seen him in I've always believed and to make it look that easy! It's it's a real skill to make you like him that quickly. Literally everything I've seen him in I've loved him in. 

"And he's he's a great guy, and he's championed my cause as Kathy in this too. It wouldn't have happened without his input and him saying yes, it's really important. 

"And it's lovely to be collaborative, because in America, this happens quite a lot. You get a lot of actors who are allowed to be collaborative, but in this country it doesn't happen so much. 

Kacey Ainsworth as Cathy Keating and Robson Green as Geordie Keating in Grantchester (ITV)
Kacey Ainsworth as Cathy Keating and Robson Green as Geordie Keating in Grantchester (ITV)

"And I think that's probably because it's a worry that actors will go: 'I want to be wearing a tiara and some lovely frocks all the time' or something superficial like that. But a lot of the time it's just literally character work. You want it to have depth and flavour. That's what you want – people are surprising! Nobody's stereotypical. So don't write a stereotypical part!"

Ainsworth talked to Thornton about how she had discussed with the show's producers how to develop the character of Cathy and to make sure she broke free from the stereotype of women at the time.

She said: "That was part and parcel of her going out getting a job as well and wanting to get job wanting to be a bit more independent. Women's lib had just happened in the 60s. Women had worked during the war. They'd worked in factories, they'd worked on the land, they'd done all of those things. They'd had to keep everything going here.

Read more: Kacey Ainsworth: 'Strictly can wreck an actor's career'

"And I don't think they were prepared to go back to being chained to the kitchen sink. So that's something that I think also gave the impetus towards towards the women's liberation movement, very early on in the 60s. 

"We had to fight so much against lots of other things because media was was run by a very small group of people. And so it was whatever they liked, or whatever their bent was. 

"Growing up, I found that the women that were on television were either battle axes or dolly birds. I didn't have anything in between! So when I watched things in the 80s, like Widows and Band of Gold, I was like: 'These women, they're all very different. There isn't just dolly birds and battle axes. 

"It's not stereotypical, it's so amazing that I was seeing these wonderful actresses do shows that had huge audiences. And they weren't necessarily about posh people either. Because I get bored with that as a diet of what I'm watching on television. We had to grow up with huge stereotypes!"

WATCH: Grantchester's Kacey Ainsworth says Robson Green "isn't the kind of actor who insists on having a wife who's 20 years younger than him, he's quite happy with me"

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