HBO and friends celebrated the premiere of Season 2 of Issa Rae’s “Insecure” with a block party in Inglewood Saturday afternoon. The cast of the show partied alongside local Inglewood vendors like Earle’s on Crenshaw, The Serving Spoon, and Randy’s Donuts, as well as musical performers like Kamaiyah, Ty Dolla $ign, and SZA to bring the setting of “Insecure” to life.
“Insecure” follows the journey of creator and executive producer Issa Rae‘s character, Issa Dee, as she navigates relationships and career troubles in Los Angeles alongside her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji). The show taps into the awkwardness of daily life, particularly as a black woman, but in a way that is relatable to all audiences.
“We try to just be honest,” said Prentice Penny, executive producer and showrunner. “You just rarely, up until now, see people of color being very three-dimensionalized and going through the same thing everybody goes through. She’s an African-American woman we haven’t seen on camera before. (Issa)’s a character who isn’t always the best dressed, who doesn’t always dance the best, who’s a little bit clumsy, who doesn’t have great advice for everybody. Issa’s very raw and human and I think that’s very identifiable.”
The cast agreed that authenticity is the show’s best draw. Jay Ellis, who plays Issa’s ex-boyfriend Lawrence, said the show plays on the fact that everyone has insecurities and a messy friend like Molly, a slow-start boyfriend like Lawrence, or a dead-end job.
Neil Brown, Jr., who plays Lawrence’s friend Chad, hit on one aspect of the show that’s particularly relatable: Issa’s rap monologues to herself, which she uses as a method of unpacking and expressing her feelings. “People do sit in the mirror and talk to themselves and don’t want to admit it, won’t tell their homie about it, but when you see Issa do it, it’s like ‘Hey, I do that too!'” Rae said we can expect to see more of Issa’s raps this season.
Fans can also look forward to “This Is Us” star and Emmy Award nominee Sterling K. Brown’s guest role on Season 2. Penny said working with Brown is as awesome as would be expected. “He was a huge fan of the show and he reached out to Issa and was like, ‘I would just love to do anything with the show’ and it was like ‘Ok, are you willing to do this?’ And he was like ‘Yeah, I’ll do it.'”
As writer, EP, and main star, Rae juggles several roles, leaving her co-stars in awe. “So often out on set like in the trailer, I’m looking at Issa like ‘Are you good? You need some water? What can I get for you? How are you doing it?'” Orji said. “But she’s so in the zone, she’ll be memorizing her lines on set, and then editing, and then writing. I would spontaneously combust, but she works very well with so much going on.”
Ellis was tightlipped on any developments in the Issa-Lawrence realm, but — without spoiling anything — did say a particular moment in the Season 2 premiere “is so full of so many emotions. It’s full of love, passion, anger, confusion. I think what we’re gonna see play out over the course of the season is him dealing with those things.”
With Season 2 exploring more of Molly and Lawrence’s stories, Rae said she’s not sure whether she thinks of it as an ensemble show or an Issa-centric one.
“I go back and forth,” she said. “It’s definitely through Issa’s lens and Issa’s POV, but Molly and Lawrence’s stories are so interesting and so pivotal for Issa’s experience that I think it depends on the episode whether or not it’s an ensemble show.”
For her part, Rae said it’s thanks to her support from Penny, executive producer and director Melina Matsoukas, and her producing partner Deniese Davis that’s she’s able to thrive with so many roles. “It’s not as daunting as it might sound. And it’s f—ing awesome.”
“Insecure” Season 2 premieres July 23 on HBO.
|Ty Dolla $ign performing. Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock|
|“Insecure” stars Neil Brown Jr. and Jay Ellis. Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock|