Season one may almost be over, but after garnering both critical and fan acclaim (a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) HBO’s Insecure has already been signed on for a second season. With so much competition, why is Insecure getting such love? Like many other HBO success stories, the show is beautifully written and the narratives always leave viewers coming back for more, but Insecure‘s success is truly rooted in its authenticity. Created and starring Issa Rae (of Awkward Black Girl fame), the show is both hilarious and heartbreaking as it explores the complexities of the black female experience in America. We sat down with co-star Yvonne Orji (who plays Issa’s best friend Molly) to get a sense of how our protagonists will fare this season, and to learn more about Orji and Rae’s journey from YouTube to HBO. Be sure to catch up on every episode of Insecure before the season finale, this Sunday, November 27th at 10:30/9:30c on HBO.
Can you tell us a bit about your character?
My character’s name is Molly Carter, and she’s a bit of a hybrid. On the one hand, she’s this uber corporate attorney, totally crushing it at work. And on the other hand, she knows how to navigate life in the hood, as a self-proclaimed “reformed hoodrat.” But Molly’s biggest obstacle at the moment, is that she is quite unlucky-in-love.
On the surface it seems like she has it all, but we already learn within the first episode that all is not as it seems.
I call them #MollyMistakes, because she makes quite a few of them. Her insecurity is that she’s probably a bit self-conscious. She cares about what her friends think about her relationships. She wants the ideal man who checks off all the boxes on her list, but she maybe doesn’t stop to think if there’s any thing about herself that would keep her off of somebody else’s list.
Over the past few years, it’s been really exciting to see realistic female friendships front and center in television. What do you think it is about Molly and Issa’s relationship that will resonate with viewers? What makes their relationship unique?
I think that they depict two people who love hard and also fight hard—but the basis of their relationship is a deeply-seeded love. They can also be completely transparent with one another. Only your best friend can see you, flaws and all, and call you out when they feel you’re a bit off, but also not take it personally when you don’t heed their advice. With all the people who judge them in their lives, from co-workers to partners, they have a judgment free-zone between them, and that’s what helps make their relationship special, and feel authentic.
How did you and series creator/co-star Issa Rae initially connect? Your chemistry is outstanding—it seems like you’ve been friends for years!
Well thank you! Issa is awesome. She has a likeability factor about her, and a genuine spirit that makes you instantly feel a connection with her. And she’s also SUPER funny!
Issa first found out about me when I posted a video, 8 years ago, on YouTube about random African family members coming out the woodwork to claim Obama should he become president. Her being half-Senegalese, she totally understood that character, but I had no clue she knew who I was! So when I moved out to L.A. in 2012 and was engulfed in Awkward Black Girl, I reached out to her on Twitter. In my mind, she was amazing, and I feel like I’m amazing, so let’s be amazing together! And lo and behold, she responded and invited me over for game night, and I thought, “WOW this Twitter thing really works!” It was at her game night when she told me she had seen my YouTube video, so it all came full-circle. After that, she would see me at various comedy shows or different events I was hosting around L.A., and I continued watching the content she put out digitally. We had a mutual respect for one another as Black/African girls making waves independently in the industry.
Is there an overarching message you hope viewers take away from the first season?
Content-wise, I hope viewers enjoy seeing the lives of regular, everyday Black people portrayed on TV, flaws and all, navigating through what’s thrown their way. I hope people from varied backgrounds, be it economic, racial, gender, etc. can find something in this series they identify with that keeps them coming back for more… even if it’s only the humor.
Industry-wise, I hope more networks will take risks on new voices, and really see the potential of good storytelling that can arise from a plethora of experiences. I’d love to see those voices be given space to live, breathe and be fully developed—not watered down.
It’s been 10 years since you decided to pursue comedy and acting—what are some of the most valuable lessons you learned along your journey?
I MEEEANNN SO MANY LESSONS (sometimes learned the hard way!) I’d say: trust your instincts, believe in yourself, have faith, never give up on hope—dark times will come, but you just have to outlast them by one more day. Learn to assert your voice and still be collaborative, see greater opportunities in EVERYTHING, including the seemingly mundane. Don’t wait for opportunities, create them and all the other opportunities you wanted will follow suit. BE EXCELLENT—at any level—be the most excellent you’re able to be!