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"I spoke to Jacqueline from The Bold Type. And after just a few minutes, she fixed my life."

With the character of Jacqueline Carlyle, Melora Hardin has created a TV unicorn.

The inspiring, fiercely dressed and wickedly smart editor of Scarlet magazine from Stan’s hit series The Bold Type has emerged as the fan-favourite of the show. Viewers who tune into the media-themed dramedy each week often ask themselves in real life, ‘what would Jacqueline do?’

Which is precisely the response Melora Hardin wants you to have.

Even though we pride ourselves on being smack bang in the middle of the ‘Golden Age of TV’, it’s still rare to see a woman like Jacqueline on our screens; a woman in her 40s who is overseeing a cast of loveable millennial women, without ever becoming their antagonist.

In a superb twist of storytelling, after watching The Bold Type, you’re often left wishing you were more like Jacqueline than the young women who congregate in the fashion closet. It’s the rare TV show that prioritises experience and power over youth.

But as someone whose job it is to chat with the people who bring our favourite TV characters to life, I have to admit I was nervous when my phone rang one early Saturday morning and I knew Melora Hardin was on the other end.

In my experience, in order for actors and actresses to truly bring their roles to life, they often have to differ wildly from them.

TV villains often end up giving me sweet, vanilla answers, while in some cases, a seemingly meek and under-the-radar character can blow you away with their sass and smarts.

So, was I about to find out that the portrayer of the iconic Jacqueline Carlyle was nothing like the force of nature she is on screen?

"With the character of Jacqueline Carlyle, Melora Hardin has created a TV unicorn." Source: Stan.

Thankfully, the 52-year-old actress does not just play Jacqueline onscreen, she also has a say in the storylines her character follows, and the first lesson she dished out to me is that if you're not happy with your work situation, it's your job to change it.

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Which is how, in season four, Jacqueline ended up separating from her husband and pursuing a new romantic relationship.

"What happened to Jacqueline in the first half of this season is something that I have been pushing for, for a number of years,” she told me over the phone from COVID-19 lockdown with her family in the US. "Everyone kept saying, ‘Oh, she’s such a mentor!’. And I just thought, yes, but the way someone becomes a mentor is that have to see them handle a difficult situation gracefully. The audience needed to see her be tested.

"I was very interested to look at what it really means to be in a long-term marriage, which I am in. My husband and I have been married for a very long time. My real-life husband, Gildart Jackson, actually plays my husband Ian Carlyle on the show, so I was intrigued to look at what it's like to be in a long-term marriage and then to drift apart.

"So often on television, they only show a marriage where everyone is so happy or you are getting a divorce, but there are so many more subtleties to a long-term marriage."

Melora Hardin with her onscreen and offscreen husband, Gildart Jackson, in The Bold Type. Source: Stan.

"That storyline is more interesting to me, and I have encouraged the writers to play it out a little more, to think outside the box," she continued. "It’s so wonderful for me when I have a 15-year-old or 16-year-old girl come up to me and say ‘Oh my God, you’re my favourite character on The Bold Type’.

"What that means is that when these girls eventually go out into the workforce, and they're working for some asshole, they’ll be able to refer back to Jacquline and go, ‘is that what Jacquline would do?’ And if it isn’t what Jacquline would do, then they know something is not right with that job."

Long before The Devil Wears Prada came along and kicked the idea up a notch, it was widely accepted in both pop-culture and the real world that female bosses were often bitchy, vindictive and cold taskmasters without a hint of mentorship in sight.

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It's a stereotype Melora herself held onto for a long time, and one she is now actively trying to change with The Bold Type.

"When I was a little girl — I have been acting professionally for many years. My mother was an actress and my father was an actor — one night, my mother was tucking me into bed, and I said to her, ‘When I get famous, I’m going to quit acting’. She asked me why. I replied ‘because I don’t want to be a bitch’.

"What that really tells us is that I had been programmed by television that if you ever become successful at what you do or become famous, you will also have to be an asshole.

"I saw that a lot on TV. But I was born in 1967, and at the time, this was the collective unconscious we had about women. So it’s important now that we’re seeing a woman like Jacqueline on TV, who is powerful and fashionable. She’s at the top of her game. She’s not losing steam in her 40s.

"I want young women to feel that they can be as fabulous as Jacquline, they can be turned on by their own life."

Listen to The Bold Type star Katie Stevens talk about what really goes into filming The Bold Type sex scenes on The Spill. 

With The Bold Type season four returning to Stan from June 12, featuring an episode directed by Melora, she confirms that we'll see Jacqueline Carlyle face a new set of challenges with her estranged husband, all while she rolls out some new changes at Scarlet.

As we talk through some of the issues facing young women in the workforce today, I ask her what's the one piece of advice she has for women who find themselves at a career-crossroads and don't have a Jacqueline Carlyle to ask for help.

"My advice to you is to follow your passion," she said confidently. "Be sensitive to when you’re following something that is part of your psychology or if you’re following something driven by your heart. I would say if it’s coming from your psychology, you need to reexamine it because in general psychology has an agenda, and passion doesn’t."

There you have it, the three life-changing lessons passed onto me from Melora Hardin/Jacqueline Carlyle that I am now gifting to you.

1. Always be turned on by your own life.

2. Follow your passion, not your psychology.

3. Don't be a bitch.

The Bold Type Season four midseason return premieres 12 June, the same day as the US – only on Stan. All previous episodes of Seasons 1-4 are available to stream now.


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