Last night Insecure returned to the tv screen for its highly-anticipated second season, and it did not disappoint.
The show picked up right where it left off, with Issa struggling in the aftermath of her breakup while also dealing with challenges at work (while Lawrence is smashing Tasha the bank teller), Molly questioning her worth at work after finding out she makes less than her male coworkers (while Tasha is having sex with Lawrence), and Lawrence adjusting to his new living arrangements and life without Issa (while also hooking up with Tasha).
Last season Lawrence started off unemployed, hanging out on the couch, not really doing much. Then at the end he’s got this great job, broke up with Issa, and he’s having sex with Tasha. How did you react when you got the script and you saw he was going to have sex with Issa at the very beginning of the second season?
Jay Ellis: I was both surprised and not surprised. It’s such a real reaction and a real thing that happens when they’re torn apart in a very quick, unresolved way. I think how the sex happened or the end of the sex is what really threw me. There’s a lot of passion there, a lot of love there and I’m like “oh snap I see where this is going” and Lawrence is like “I’m out.” Like oh no what are you doing? Say something! And I think that’s where I was shocked. I didn’t see that coming.
Are those sex scenes awkward?
Anybody who tells you a sex scene on tv is not awkward is a lie! You meet somebody for the first time, or the second time maybe, or somebody who is like a brother or sister and now all of a sudden y’all have to get butt-naked together in bed and start going at it.
Now Lawrence and Tasha are going at it. A lot of people think your character is just going to use her to fill a void.
There’s definitely something intriguing about her right? She’s been there, she’s been supportive of him, she made him feel good about himself. And I think there’s something he wasn’t getting at home that he sees in Tasha. I don’t think it’s purely him using her to get over Issa. I think it’s “oh, I like being treated like this and the encouragement.” [And she’s also] a distraction from the things he doesn’t want to deal with.
Is Lawrence insecure?
For sure. And cheating did not help at all. Stepped on his heart and treating him like he wasn’t nothing. For all those people that are “Team Issa” they should be ashamed of themselves (laughs).
Why did you come for them like that?
I find it hard that people can be “Team Issa.” And not saying Lawrence sleeping with Tasha was right, I’m not saying it was wrong. I just find it hard that that’s how people side. The number one argument is that she held him down when he didn’t have nothing. And, that’s true and that means something, but it doesn’t excuse her lack of loyalty. Just because somebody held you down and payed the bills, that does condone cheating. That’s not what a relationship is.
If you were Lawrence would you take Issa back?
I’m not going to lie, I’m not that strong of a human being. I wish I was. But that’s a lot of prayer, I’m gonna need people praying for me, I’m going to be praying a lot. I’m going to need Kirk Franklin to come sing a song (laughs).
Well if you need all that then you just have to let it be over!
It’s tough, it takes a lot of communication and openness. The person who cheated has to be wildly open…text messages, emails, phone logs, distance traveled, you have to be constantly assuring your partner that it’s not going to happen again. Once you break trust it’s hard to come back from it.
The show, with the exception of Prentice and a couple of people, is mostly women. What have you learned working with them?
The biggest thing is perspective. Like if you feel one sexual position is more demeaning than another. A perfect example is that opening sex scene with Tasha and Lawrence. Prentice and I saw it a completely different way than Melina and Issa saw it, so we shot it both ways. And Dominique, who plays Tasha, we all talked about it.
And then I will I say there is some behavior that dudes do that is not right and I understand in a completely different way now. Because I’ve now heard a woman’s perspective. And when you hear a woman’s perspective I hope you’re big enough and smart enough to go “oh, I shouldn’t do that thing next time.” Hopefully.
Knowing this, what advice would you give to your fellow men? With Hov’s album coming people are talking about how he was so vulnerable, that therapy is okay and why Black men have to communicate.
It’s so interesting that you say that. There’s a vulnerability that men aren’t allowed to show for some reason, especially Black men. We’ve been indoctrinated and pushed through to be hypermasculine and that’s hurt us more than it could do anything for us.
When things don’t happen the way we want we close down, and it pushes behavior in another direction…And I think we should be allowed to be just as vulnerable as anybody else. And we have to communicate that. Which is what I think is the beautiful thing about JAY-Z’s album. He’s communicating that. He’s showing you can still be vulnerable and be a man and take care of your family and be respected and successful. Because as a culture and as a society it’s not helping us move forward.
So my biggest thing would be to communicate. Real talk. It’s okay to have feelings. And not only is it okay to have them, it’s okay to talk about them. Whether it’s with your family or a therapist or your significant other or a friend. We have to have an outlet. Or w’re going to implode.
Well talking about JAY-Z now I need to know, who are some of your favorite artists?
Man listen. I feel like I know every single word to every single song [on 4:44]. I’ve listened to it so much. And Kendrick, the things he’s talking about on his album. Talking about the beautiful things about our culture and the things we have to work on. I love Wale, a friend of mine and I’ve listened to every single thing of his. Cole obviously. Drake obviously. I’ve been listening to SZA a lot lately. Solange. I feel like that’s family.
Well rap-wise, who’s your G.O.A.T.?
JAY-Z. Hands down. Like when people say anyone else I’m just confused. Even if you take out 4:44, there’s still Reasonable Doubt, Vol. 1, Black Album. I mean who else has put out music that good, consistently, for over 20 years?
So what else are you working on outside of ‘Insecure?’
I produced a web series called Hard Medicine that is going to be premiere on my Facebook on August 2nd. It’s a young Black, female creator by the name of Melissa Effa. It’s The Office but set in an urban community urgent care center, and also people of color in comedy and in medicine in a way we’ve never seen before.
I taking a pilot out to sale this year. I did a movie with Emma Roberts. And a movie with my big brother Omari Hardwick and Meagan Good called Election Night that’s editing right now.