An interview with Insecure's Yvonne Orji on Molly's evolution in Season 2.

Insecure’s Yvonne Orji on Molly’s Evolution in Season 2 and the Beauty of Portraying Flawed Black Characters

Insecure’s Yvonne Orji on Molly’s Evolution in Season 2 and the Beauty of Portraying Flawed Black Characters

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Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 25 2017 8:32 AM

Insecure’s Yvonne Orji on Molly’s Evolution in Season 2 and the Beauty of Portraying Flawed Black Characters

yvonne_orji_interview
Yvonne Orji on Insecure.

HBO

Like all of the characters on HBO’s hit series Insecure, Molly’s actions have inspired fierce debate and opinions among fans. For the latest episode of Represent, Aisha Harris spoke with Yvonne Orji about what it was like to audition for the role, how her faith influences her work and dating life, and how she deals with people who express animosity toward Molly. Below is a transcribed and edited excerpt from that conversation, in which Orji discusses critics of the show’s title and her thoughts on why Lawrence is currently the most insecure character of Season 2. You can check out the full episode in the audio player below.

Yvonne Orji: … When our show came out black people were upset like, “HBO gives her a show and they call it Insecure? See this is why I can’t stand it.”

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Aisha Harris: Wait, people really said that?

Oh my gosh, yeah! It was just like, “Why is it the first time a black girl gets a show on HBO, it’s got to be Insecure? Why can’t there be a better portrayal of us?” It was just like she’s awkward! She’s awkward! She was awkward before! So you were OK with awkward before. Awkward is taken. And it’s OK because, but I think that narrative, Issa was great about sharing. Like we’re all insecure about stuff. There’s nobody that wakes up every day winning. And it’s like, why do we need to so circumvent the image that’s out there as like, “We are saviors. We are warriors.” We get it—black girl magic is all day long. But at the same time, there’s black girl pixie dust that you have to have before you get to the magic. And pixie dust, it ain’t fully formed yet. You’re going to make some mistakes on your way, and you’ve made mistakes and you are insecure, but then you’re killing it in other aspects of your life too. And it’s OK.

But I think there was just this fear like you can’t let white people know that we’ve got insecurities because then their narrative about us is going to be justified. We’re not stunting nobody! They’re going to think whatever they’re going to think about us, so let’s just walk in the truth of who we are. And again, this might not be your story, and that’s OK. And that’s the beauty of having more seats at the table, more voices to say, “Well if this is not your story, that’s cool. We’re going to have this story, and then you can get in where you fit in.”

It’s funny because I had not heard that argument, which is a terrible argument to make. But then I also have co-workers who have said that they think that Issa’s character is not insecure enough. And I was like, I don’t know where that’s coming from. This is a woman who psyches herself up in the mirror and raps to herself … She’s pretty insecure.

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There were other people who said Obama wasn’t black enough. So I don’t know what scale of insecurities or black-ities or anything “-ies” is enough.

Well, question for you. Who do you think right now in Season 2 is the most insecure character?

I would say Lawrence.

I would agree.

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I would say Lawrence, because I think Lawrence is trying to find himself in a way that he hasn’t before. And it’s like also finding himself while on the up and up, which is like, you should find yourself before you get on the up and up, because then you’re solidified in who you are before the rise. But when you’re trying to figure it out as you’re rising, that’s problematic. That’s problematic. So I think that’s what he’s experiencing now. He’s just like, “I’m a good guy, but I’m trying to be a single guy, and all I know is relationships. So that’s why he messed things up with Tasha. It’s like, “I’m jumping from one relationship to another to another, and for the last four years I’ve been in relationship mode, so I don’t know how to be Chad,” you know, his friend. Chad is like—I don’t know what Chad is. Chad is not single, and then he is single. Then he’s engaged, but then he’s flirting with the real estate [woman]. I don’t know. Chad is a mess is what he is.

Chad’s a fuckboy, and Lawrence is trying to be a fuckboy.

Well, Lawrence doesn’t know how not to be a relationship boy. Because of that, and by default because he doesn’t have the best people around him right now, he ends up being an F-boy. So there’s that.

Yeah I would agree that Lawrence is the most insecure right now. Let’s actually talk about Molly this season, because she’s going through a lot and has evolved a lot. In the first season, you know, she and Issa have that huge falling out. And then they reunited by the end of it … but one of the things you fell out over was her suggesting that you go to therapy. And so this season you’re attempting to go to therapy.

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I’m in therapy, y’all. Well, Molly’s in therapy, y’all.

Well as of …

Well yeah, as of Episode 3, she’s not.

Or she’s trying to find a new therapist. Is there anything about your character this season that surprised you? And how much input do you get into your character?

I think we are seeing—it’s so funny because, like I was saying earlier, people were upset with Molly for not going to dinner or the concert with Lionel.

It is Sterling K. Brown, I’m just saying.

The Sterling K. Brown. But yeah, Molly’s doing what Lawrence probably should have done, which is taking a beat. When you like somebody but you don’t like them enough, it’s like, let’s not waste each other’s time. And yes, I could use you for a cool night out and I might even enjoy myself, but if I don’t feel like it’s going to go anywhere, why am I wasting your time? And I think she’s trying to process that, which is very different from Molly’s first season. Molly would’ve been moved in with Lionel. Molly would’ve been like, “What color arrangements do you want for the wedding? No, we can actually go to Vegas today.”

And you know, now she’s just taking a beat. And people aren’t OK with her doing that, so it’s just kind of like, what you all want my lead to do y’all? She’s trying to figure things out, and she’s trying not to be that person. Obviously, yes, there are extremes, and maybe she might have gone from one extreme to the other. But that’s the thing when you’re trying to find the sweet spot in the middle. Goldilocks was like, “Nah, this is too hot. Nah, this is too cold.” OK, we’ll you have to go to the two extremes to figure out like, “I kind of like it warm.” And I think that’s where Molly is right now. Molly is trying to figure out what that sweet spot is.

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture writer and host of the Slate podcast Represent.