Last year's summer breakout returns for a second season with the three BFFs -- Jane Sloan (Katie Stevens), Kat Edison (Aisha Dee) and Sutton Brady (Meghann Fahy) -- in dramatically different places in their professional and personal lives. Jane made the bold decision to leave the comfort of Scarlet magazine for the edgier digital publication Incite (think Buzzfeed meets Vice); Kat boarded a flight to South America to be with Adena (Nikohl Boosheri); and Sutton found her place in Scarlet's fashion department, with her secret romance with the much older Richard (Sam Page) in limbo.
"It was fun and interesting and nerve-wracking because you have all these feelings of what you know you achieved in the first season and how well-received it was. You just want to do as good a job moving forward into this season, and I think we have. The stories that we're telling are great and it was really fun to really play where our characters are heading," Stevens tells ET of getting back into the swing of things for season two, which explores themes of body confidence, interoffice politics and dating hurdles. "We left off last season and we didn't really know what the next season was going to look like, so it's always fun to get those scripts and see how it's progressing forward."
Ahead of Tuesday's sophomore return, which picks up about a week after the freshman finale, Stevens spoke with ET about Jane's professional (and personal) challenges, working with new showrunner Amanda Lasher (who replaced creator Sarah Watson) and why The Bold Type is even more important now than ever before.
ET: Before you headed back into production on season two, how confident were you that you knew what Jane was all about -- that you could slip into her shoes and be in her skin at the drop of a hat? Or is there still a level of uncertainty that comes into play?
Katie Stevens: I'm always uncertain because I don't know what the writers have planned. [Laughs.] But I think that that's true to life. We never know what's ahead for us, so I think that's almost the best way to have it be. I'm discovering what Jane's going through as Jane's discovering it. I will say I was nervous because we wrapped up shooting season one in August and we started season two in February, so I had a long break between seasons to playing Jane. I remember I was doing a horror movie in October and the character was so polar opposite to Jane, so I did that for two months, and a month and a half later, I had to go play Jane and I was like, "Do I know this still?" [Laughs.] But it's like riding a bike and you get back into the groove of things. I remember being so nervous because my first day of shooting I didn't have the girls with me because I was no longer at Scarlet and it was me at Incite. I remember being like, "No! I need the girls because that's how I get back on the bike!" I think it was good because Jane doesn't feel comfortable at Incite, so reality versus the show, it worked.
The season kicks off with Jane starting her new job at Incite and trying to carve out a place there. It seems like it'll be a tall task for Jane, with Incite being the complete opposite of what Scarlet represented and what Jane was able to accomplish there.
When she was at Scarlet, she was getting so much good feedback and she was doing so well when she was writing things that were political and hard-hitting. She realized that there's not a ton of space for that at Scarlet. At the end of the first season, she wanted to do more stuff [in that area] and Jacqueline wasn't really allowing her to be challenged. Having Incite come to her at that time seemed really appealing. This season is all about Jane having left Scarlet to really realize what she wants to do and who she wants to be and the writer she wants to be. I kind of compare it to dating. You date so you can learn what you like and what you don't like, so when you find what's right, you're able to recognize that. I think the same goes for Jane. She loves Scarlet and had a wonderful experience there; now she goes to Incite and doesn't have a great experience. She's learning that not all bosses are as wonderful as Jacqueline, and some people will twist the truth and be dishonest. It's taking her [having] to go on this journey and really fail at Incite and have to pick up those pieces to realize what she's really meant to do and where she's meant to be.
With Jane at Incite and Kat and Sutton at Scarlet, how much time will the trio spend together now that they're not walking the same hallways during the workday?
We get to see the girls outside of work because they're not always just going to be at the office. You're going to see them out of the office and going out together and all of that fun stuff. Season one was a lot of stuff at Scarlet, but it's nice to see these girls outside of the office in their regular life element.
What are Jane's romantic prospects this season with Ryan, aka Pinstripe, returning and a new love interest, Ben, coming into the picture?
[Pinstripe] comes back, but you're also going to see a different love interest for Jane come into play. You're going to see Pinstripe come back and where that plays in for Jane and for their relationship is they have this crazy chemistry. Can people who have once been intimate with each other be friends? What's interesting, and it's because Dan Jeannotte plays the character so well, Jane broke up with him last season and she was like, "I need commitment and I need monogamy." She was kind of putting him in a box because he never said he didn't want that. You'll continue to see Jane try to put him in this box and him be like, "I see that that's what you think I'm like, but I'm going to continue to prove you wrong." That's so much of what we do in life. Things that scare us, we try to put them in a box or try to paint them in a way that feels safer to us. That's what Jane always does with Pinstripe. You will see her with this new love interest and they really have a connection too. Who does Jane want to be with? Does Jane want to be with anyone? You'll also see her deal with the BRCA gene status and that changes a lot of things and a lot of what Jane wants out of life. She's going to have to sit down with herself and really figure that out.
The first episode of the season introduced a new corporate policy at Scarlet where co-workers of any level could date if they signed a document with HR saying their relationship was consensual. What's your take on how this new wrinkle affects Sutton and Richard's on-again/off-again romance?
You're gonna go through a whole roller-coaster of emotions with everyone's love life this season, but I think especially those characters. At the end of the first episode, you see that really hard scene where Sutton chooses her career instead. I think that we're going to see Sutton battle with if that was the right decision for her. She's going to learn about her through that journey, but I'm always Team Sutton and Richard, so I always hold out hope.
You entered The Bold Type season two with a new showrunner at the helm, Amanda Lasher, from MTV's Sweet/Vicious. What has your working relationship with Amanda been like this season and what creative conversations did you guys have?
I was a fan of Sweet/Vicious and Aisha was on Sweet/Vicious, so she knew Amanda. I was very excited and Amanda did Gossip Girl, too. I've been a fan of her work for a really long time, so it was great to have her come on and have a new, fresh perspective. When we had our first phone call, she was so reassuring and she was like, "I want you to know the girls' friendship will always stay intact." We'll never have you guys back-stab each other. She was coming on as a fan of the show. She's been so wonderful and she's so collaborative and open and one time, I got to work really early and I needed a question answered before I started working. I called her and it was like 3 o'clock in the morning in L.A. and she woke up to talk to me, and I was like, "I feel like a really terrible person because I really want you to sleep." And she was like, "No, it's fine!" and she answered my questions. She's just always so available to us and I think that's important to her as well because she wants it to be a collaborative experience. She knows we've build a rapport together as friends and she lets us do our thing, and ad-lib where we see that we have the opportunity to do so. I can't say enough good things about her.
The Bold Type really embraces everyday women as they try to navigate their careers while balancing their personal lives. As one of the stars on a show where you get to explore topical issues like the BRCA gene, gender parity and sexual harassment, what has that meant to you?
I'm very proud. I think it's really important, especially in the climate of where the world is at right now [and] especially for young women, to see their stories told and reflected. It's great to be on a show that's showing what women go through everyday and the things that the women have to deal with and face. It's great to showcase that women can be strong and kind at the same time. It doesn't need to be when she's strong, she's a b**ch. Or if she's career-oriented, she doesn't care about her love life. Or if she cares about her love life, she isn't career-oriented. I think we're disproving all of that. You can be strong. You can care about your career. You can care about your personal life. There's no weakness in any part of that. I feel like I try to find that happy balance in my own life. Work gets hard and I have to be away from my fiance [Paul DiGiovanni] and my life and my dog, but I am trying to juggle it all, and it's great to be on a show where I get to play a character who's going through similar things to what I'm going through. On our show, we have strong men who are not intimidated by strong women; I hate seeing shows where the woman is the victim and the woman is playing the part just to be complementary to the man. I get fans coming up to me on the street, telling me how much the show means to them and that's so rewarding. I'm so proud to be able to tell these stories.
The Bold Type launches with a two-hour premiere Tuesday, June 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform. The first episode, titled "Feminist Army," is available as an early preview on Hulu.