Inside a second-floor conference room of a Presbyterian church in the Mid-Wilshire section of Los Angeles, Yvonne Orji and Natasha Rothwell are discussing the complexities of being in an open relationship. It’s a topic of conversation that conventionally wouldn’t take place at a conservative place of worship, but like many of the topical debates presented on HBO’s Insecure, it’s a subject that more women of color have discussed through ribald group chats and long phone conversations.
Insecure is undoubtedly a show created for black women who are unapologetically making a slew of mistakes, and have all the agency to learn from them. Not everything is about #BlackGirlMagic perfection all the time, and that’s perfectly fine.
On the second season of the series, Molly (Orji) finds herself in a precarious situationship with childhood friend Dro (Sarunas J. Jackson). He is in an open marriage, and according to him, his wife Candice decided on it.
Yet what’s quite perplexing is how quickly viewers are to point the finger at Dro for his “fuccboi” lies, and call Molly stupid for engaging in it. Dressed in a custom-made crème and white Adidas two-piece suit, sporting an asymmetrical bob cut, Yvonne dismisses the male bashing notion while advocating for Candice’s empowered unheard side of the story.
“What was so funny about that to me was that everyone was like, ‘he’s lying, he’s lying.’ Nobody was like, ‘what if Candice is out there getting hers,’” Orji pondered. “What if this is true and Candice is out there living her best life. People in conversation never go there, which I think is very interesting about society.” Right, the world always gives men the upper hand, and never wants to believe women can own their hedonistic desires–even if the status quo may not agree with them.
Whether or not Molly is wrong, she has to deal with her choices–and that’s what the third season presents.
“This season we’re going to see how people live in the decisions they make, and what the ramifications of what those decisions could be,” Orji explained. “There’s fantasy and there is reality, and I think our show really does a good job of living the reality of what the fantasy you thought was. We take you there, but then we reel you back in. This season I feel like shows everybody growing, but in a different way or trying to figure out how to grow.”
This is evidenced in the first episode of the third season, “Better-Like.” It opens up with Daniel having loud sex with a random woman, while Issa is trying to fall asleep in his living room. After her break-up with Lawrence, she can’t afford the apartment they shared at The Dunes in Inglewood, so she opts to stay with Daniel—the man she choose to destroy her relationship for.
And if that isn’t enough, she also got demoted at We Got Ya’ll to an admin position where now she’s forced to also drive for Lyft to make ends meet. Molly, on the other hand, confronts Dro about his relationship and makes effort to give him boundaries. Issa’s regressing, while Molly is taking a stand for herself.
Amid their problematic and juicy storylines, their close friend Kelli (Rothwell) serves amazing one-liners and adds on to the loaded conversations. For Rothwell, who in addition to playing Kelli is also a writer on the show, it’s imperative to remain true to Issa’s storyline. “It’s about me wearing hats, and compartmentalizing so it’s very difficult to be in the writer’s room, and be thinking about Kelli,” Rothwell said, wearing a white and blue jumpsuit with a flirty red lip. “When you’re a writer there is a selflessness that has to happen, you have to have equity with how you treat each of the characters and the information you bring into the room. I want to do right by Issa. Her story is the story we are telling.”
After our conversation, Yvonne and Natasha hurry back to set where they’re filming in a nearby apartment.
During the first half of the day, Issa is filming at Inglewood’s City Hall. Through the monitors at the production crew’s video village set up, wearing a navy blue ensemble Issa is seen shooting a scene inside a courthouse attempting to get some release forms for an event that’s being hosted in the neighborhood for We Got Ya’ll. She stresses the importance of empowering the youth of the community, but is met with a sarcastic Latina clerk who calls the events in the area as “janky” and calls her a “pendeja.”
On-screen Issa is awkward and hesitant, but hilarious. They go through a dozen takes, and occasionally improvise on the spot. It’s fascinating to watch her at work. Real life Issa is quick-witted, sweet and confident—everything you hoped she would be.
Issa Rae describes her character as a version of herself filled with inchoate thoughts. “She’s a version of me that hasn’t grown up yet,” she said after shooting the scene. “I don’t like uncertainty. I’m very certain when it comes to things in my life and my career path. When I make decisions I’m really impulsive. I think she waivers in a way I don’t. I understand what it means to be that insecure, and I’m a better version of that and I’ve outgrown that.
“So I look at her, and I’m like ‘girl, get it together because I know what you could be.’ I know what your potential is.” she continued.
While she knows her character’s potential, she’s aware that it’s pivotal for her to represent reality no matter how ugly it may be. Still, she grapples with the dichotomy of having to protect the representation of black women through her lens. “I’m protective in the sense that we haven’t had two dark-skinned female leads on television,” she explained. “And I find that sometimes it’s more detrimental to be like black women are perfect and flawless. That’s just hard to aspire to, and no one is like that. So while I think about those things we can’t have her out there being angry, going off on the light skin b***h cause what does that look like?”
When it comes to divulging details about this current third season, as expected, Issa keeps a tight lip. She does confirm there will be growth, but that’s pretty much it. Let’s see how much Issa and Molly grow up or glow up this season.