‘The Bold Type’s Melora Hardin on Directing TV, Jacqueline’s Marriage & More

Katie Stevens and Melora Hardin, directing The Bold Type Season 4B
Freeform/Jonathan Wenk

Melora Hardin‘s Jacqueline Carlyle is the boss at Scarlet magazine, and for Thursday’s episode of The Bold Type, the star was in charge behind the camera for her television directorial debut.

And she is doing so for an episode that features “something everything can relate to right now,” Hardin tells TV Insider. A blizzard hits New York City and forces everyone to stay inside, which means some characters are stuck at the office.

While she likes “things that are real and feel grounded in truth as an actor and a director,” Hardin notes that “there’s that extra layer of fun” in taking into account the story as a whole. “There’s something really exciting intellectually about that and thinking through scenes and choices that actors might make based on the more overarching picture so you’re really helping guide them to make sure that whatever they’re doing is going to support the next shift of the story or where the story needs to be built to or what needs to be supported in the story.”

Here, Hardin discusses stepping behind the camera and previews what’s to come for Jacqueline.

What made this episode and Season 4 the perfect timing for your television directorial debut?

Melora Hardin: This is something that I’ve wanted to do since they offered me the part four years ago. I spoke to the producers about wanting to direct — I directed a lot of independent things up until now — so we all knew that this day was coming and that was going to be something that we would be able to make happen and so I was thrilled when this one came around.

It’s a wonderfully fun episode and serendipitously aligned with what we’ve all been going through with the pandemic in that the characters get stuck and everybody has to be forced together into a situation that they may or may not want to be in with people they may or may not want to be with. They’re learning a lot about themselves, and it forces an opportunity for personal growth and deep conversations and confrontations and challenging situations.

Melora Hardin Director Behind the Scenes The Bold Type

(Freeform/Jonathan Wenk)

And a lot of it takes place in Scarlet, a set you obviously know very well.

Exactly, which was really, really fun in terms of directing because I know some of the nooks and crannies other directors don’t necessarily know are even there. When you’re working on a soundstage, the set exits one way, but you know that door is exiting to the fashion closet. When you’re on a soundstage, the fashion closet isn’t necessarily right there behind that door, and so people don’t tend to use that door because they’re not really thinking, “Oh, we’re walking into the fashion closet.”

I ended up using some physical spaces on the set that no one had ever used before on our show. That was really fun to play around with the physical space and direction in terms of using the physical space in maybe a little bit fresh and different way.

It’s been good to see Jacqueline where she belongs at Scarlet after the beginning of the season.

Jacqueline’s struggle right now is not so much of a professional one. She got very in touch with her passion and her need to really come to every situation in the workplace with integrity at the end of Season 3 and risked losing her job and did ultimately lose her job. Then at the beginning of Season 4, she was rehired because of the pressure that she was obviously right and she had really stepped forward and really put herself out there in taking that risk of fighting for what she believed in.

Now, she’s in a position where she needs to find that balance between all the passion she feels for work but also the love and the passion she has for her marriage and her family life and what that looks like and how to balance the two.

Ian Jacqueline The Bold Type

(Freeform/Pantazidis Panagiotis)

Jacqueline goes to meet Ian in therapy in the summer premiere. How would you describe their relationship at the moment and what’s next?

They’re struggling. They have a lot of history, and they do love each other very much. It’s really exciting to see a long-term marriage on television where they’re not blowing up the world, but they’re challenging each other. They’re asking questions. They’re making sure they’re choosing each other and they’re not just there because that’s what they have been doing for a long time.

It’s really wonderful to see that because personally, I’m in a long-term marriage and I know that long-term relationships of any kind require work and they require a lot of love and attention and nurturing and caring, and you don’t see a lot of that on television. Usually people, especially women of power, when they’re really thriving in the workplace, are usually pretty useless in their love life and I think that’s not a great picture for women to see and it’s not true. Even when there’s challenges, even when things break down, that’s a great opportunity for breakthroughs.

But there was Miles Shaw … Will we see or hear about him again?

Yeah, he’s definitely on her mind and came back into her life for a blip of a moment. You’re going to definitely see [Jacqueline and Ian] challenged and working through it, and what does it mean? Does it include other people? Does it mean they have to reexamine their priorities in their marriage? Ultimately, how can they support and build and continue loving each other? Whatever that looks like, you’ll get to see that, how they work that out.

What does Jacqueline see in Jane now that makes her ready for her own vertical?

She’s stepping up. She’s writing great stories. She’s very committed. She works hard. She’s passionate. It looks like she’s ready. She really wants it, so [Jacqueline’s] going to give her the opportunity to prove herself.

Katie Stevens The Bold Type Jane Vertical

(Freeform/Jonathan Wenk)

How much of a hands-on or hands-off approach will Jacqueline take?

Jacqueline is always very aware of everything. She doesn’t put her finger in people’s stew and create havoc. She doesn’t need to be playing a power trip on anybody. She’s good at standing back when it’s necessary. In a way, that’s a positive thing, that she can make way for them to have some freedom so they can find their own voice, but she’s watching everything. She’s calculating.

What I sometimes remind myself is she’s not just dealing with Jane and Kat and Sutton and Alex and Andrew and the other characters on the show. She’s also dealing with an entire office, an entire magazine, and so she’s got her eye on everything, on lots and lots of balls we don’t really even see in the universe of The Bold Type. That’s one of Jacqueline’s greatest skillsets and strong suits.

Jacqueline had to tell Kat she was fired in the spring finale, and we’re seeing Kat figuring out what’s next for her professionally. Are we going to see how Scarlet is doing without her as the Social Media Manager?

I don’t know that in these ones you really get a sense of how Kat’s absence has affected Scarlet because we are focusing on what transition [Kat] makes career-wise — or is forced to make because she is fired — but also how that affects her personal life and the challenges she gets faced with. My guess is if we come back in a Season 5, which I certainly hope we will, we’ll get to see that a little more.

Sutton’s newly married and now suspects she’s pregnant, and Jacqueline’s working to balance her personal and professional lives. Will we see more of them together as a result? Those two don’t get enough scenes together.

I know, I agree! I love Sutton and Jacqueline together. There is a very nice scene that you get to see with them. Sutton doesn’t really rely — I don’t know that there’s much of an ease there as there is with Jane and Jacqueline. Jane comes to Jaqueline and uses Jacqueline as a mother figure and mentor, whereas Sutton is a little more tentative. She’s tentative about her career, she was tentative about her marriage. She waffles around a little bit and isn’t as aggressive as Jane is, so it’s almost like she can’t come forward. Where she really could get relief by talking to Jacqueline because Jacqueline has so much experience she could share, Sutton doesn’t really choose to do that very much. That could also be a really fun thing for Season 5.

The Bold Type Season 4B Oliver Ex

(Freeform/Jonathan Wenk)

And anything fun with Jacqueline and Oliver?

I love the Oliver-Jacqueline relationship. You really can feel that they have history and they are closer in age and they really click. Yeah, there’s some fun stuff coming up with Oliver and Jacqueline. That’s always evolving and developing.

Also, Oliver has some really cool stuff in the episode I directed, “Snow Day,” where he has to be confronted with his ex and that’s a really wonderful thing to watch and to see. And then you actually get to see Jane stepping in in a way that Jacqueline might have in the past where Oliver and Jan have a little tête-à-tête about the challenges of having to be forced together with his ex. I like it when you get to see Jane playing out what she thinks Jacqueline might do.

The Bold Type, Thursdays, 10/9c, Freeform