The cast of HBO’s critically acclaimed Insecure hosted a dinner conversation for their “Our Stories To Tell” campaign at Sundance to chat about all things on set, proudest moments thus far and what’s ahead in season four. A multi-day, immersive Pop-up experience on Main street, “Our Stories To Tell” celebrated and united creativity, collaboration, and culture. Moderated by Elaine Welteroth (Project Runway), this dinner gave Shadow And Act a chance to engage and interact with Creator, Issa Rae (Issa Dee), Yvonne Orji (Molly Carter), Jay Ellis (Lawrence Walker), Alexander Hodge (Andrew) and Prentice Penny (Executive Producer), as well as intimate exclusives about what lies ahead.
On telling unapologetically Black stories on Insecure in collaboration with HBO, Rae shared: “I think being able to showcase that there was a desire for these kinds of stories first on the internet [through her viral Awkward Black Girl webseries] played a huge part. And then just having, just an open line of communication. I do credit HBO for taking a hands-off approach in terms of never questioning our intent or asking what certain things meant. 'Oh, we don't understand this. Can you break this down?' They never did that. They just laughed along with the jokes like they got it. Or admitted later, 'I didn't get that, but I figured it was for y'all.'"
On the proudest moment thus far, Penny told us: “My most recent proud moment is Jay directing episode seven this year. We were shooting in Mexico and I was watching Jay run around to get all of these shots. As I watched, I remember I was just smiling and I was so proud of him. I am so proud that what we started in 2015 has yielded all of us to be able to grow as Black and people of color creatives. Issa is a CoverGirl, Yvonne is an author and has a comedy tour, and Jay’s directing. It’s such a blessing to watch this little thing we did, where nobody had eyes on us, blossom”
On his directorial debut, Ellis told us: “We got to shoot in Mexico and I got to say the actors that I got to work with, Yvonne and Andrew, were absolutely amazing because a) they knew it was my first time, so they were very gentle, and b) they were being very, very kind, and I knew they all had my back too.” He continued: “I mean going in, Issa and Prentice knew what my thoughts were, and what I was comparing the episode to and how I wanted to shoot it. So, it was an incredible experience.”
On portraying the nuances of interracial dating, particularly with a black woman onscreen, Hodge shared: “This is the first show that I've been a part of that actually hired an Asian writer when I was going to be involved. So, I feel like that is a credit to Issa and putting the room together. This is the first time that I've said words that were written by somebody who looked like me and actually shared experiences. Also, I'm dating a black woman in real life. So, there’s a lot of my personal experiences to pull from.”
On the diversity of the set, he added: “We have an Asian crew on set and that’s the first time I’ve seen that, and I didn't realize how comfortable that was going to make me feel. Because I have been on shows, very recently and there was not one person on the camera, on the other side of the camera. Not one producer, not one creator, not one. Not in any department. So, one big thing for me now from this show, going into any other project is how serious are these people about representing? Because otherwise we're just partners and they're not about it because they don't want to change anything on the other side that no one sees.”
So, what’s the them for season four? Penny revealed: “I will say this, we're super excited about season four, because we're examining everybody's relationship as, is this a season relationship or a reason relationship?” Rae added: “The reason why this season is so strong is I think it pushed all of us as performers. I think we were always kind of nuanced in our comedy, but this season we really went and peeled back layers. It was nothing surface about anything. But still funny!”
Season 4 of Insecure premieres on April 12 only on HBO.