'Insecure' star Yvonne Orji talks dating in L.A., female friendships and Millennial struggles

Written by
Brittany Martin

Actress and comedian Yvonne Orji stars on HBO’s series Insecure. She plays Molly, a high-powered attorney working in Downtown L.A.—with the chic apartment, great clothes and flashy car to match—who doesn’t quite have her personal life on lock. Molly is best friend to Issa, played by show creator Issa Rae, and their friendship is the central relationship of the series as they rely on one another to help navigate the awkward, hilarious and sometimes poignant moments of young adulthood.

We chatted with Orji in advance of the DVD release on March 21 of the first season of Insecure. The second season is set to debut on HBO on July 23 (just a week after another little show on the network, Game of Thrones).

Q: Where does Insecure fit into the lineage of shows about young adults trying to figure out friendships and relationships?

A: You know, in terms of people of color, I think there were these shows back in the 1990s. You had Girlfriends, you had A Different World, Living Single… All of them would have a group of girls who got into a mess, got out of the mess together, all had each other’s back. I think Insecure is kind of built on the shoulders of those shows, but with a Millennial voice. I think it shows what it’s really like when you have these girls who, yeah, they went to school, they went to college, have good jobs, but they still listen to trap music. It’s almost a double life. And that’s relatable to a lot of girls in the world right now. Girls are like, “I have two degrees, I’m a corporate attorney, but I like to go out and hear some ratchet music.” That’s a big part of it.

Plus, there’s just the whole Millennial quest that everybody is facing. Like, asking where you’re at. Maybe you’re 29 and you’re not killing the game in every way yet, but maybe you are starting to kill it at a few things and you’re trying to figure out where that takes you, where you’re going to be in five years. Even just the world around us is shifting so much right now. And the characters, Issa and Molly, they’re trying to figure out how they fit in. And personal things too, like balancing the desire to be in a relationship with wondering if maybe you’re not in the right relationship with the right person. And really, with all the unknowns, that’s kind of where we land on their friendship, because with everything in flux, you realize this friend is the person who is your constant.

Q: That friendship really is at the heart of the show. Do you feel like you have friendships in your own life that you see reflected in Molly and Issa’s?

A: Oh my gosh, yes! I have two group text message chains. One group is called the East Coast Loves and the other is called the Garden Girls.

The East Coast Loves, those are the girls who knew me before this was even a dream, the ones I asked to come to my first comedy show, and they’re still my friends now. Ten years ago, they were all biting their fingers like, “Why is she doing this to herself?” Now they’re so happy to see it coming together, and we get to celebrate each other and uplift each other. We’re really there for each other in that regard.

And I have my Garden Girls, and I call them that because we approach it like we are each flowers in a garden and we tend to one another, all of us watering all the other plants that are there. It’s a whole group of girls who really pray for each other and, like, if somebody is falling short on rent, she knows that we have her. We all came here for a purpose and we’re not letting anybody let those types of things get in their way. 

I would never have made it in my life if it were not for my friends. Life is such a journey. There are times when it’s up, but sometimes it looks pretty dark, and you need that support. These women have been that for me. You need those girls you can just be yourself with. They don’t ask questions and they don’t let you turn them down when you need them. “We’re here to help, you’re not saying no, the end.” 

Q: Something Molly deals with a lot on the show is her dating life, and I know you’ve talked a bit about real-life dating in L.A. Do you find dating here to be different than in other cities where you lived?

A: I can tell you about the “L.A. dating scene” pretty quick: It’s non-existent. I think people date here. I sure don’t know who, because I know nobody is dating me! I hear so many stories of how tough it is to date in L.A. and how guys are and I just think, you know, I don’t want it that bad. It’s not worth it to me. Everything women do to hold on tight to a guy who is only, like, semi-good? I tell them, more is available. And I don’t know where that more is right now, but it has to be there, so please don’t lower yourself to just keep your claws in this man who is falling short of you. 

With guys here, there are so many options. Nobody wants to commit to anything real. They show just enough interest to keep you on the line, but not really enough for it to be worthwhile. My friend will say “Oh, but he’s so nice” and I’m like, “He didn’t text you back for four days. There is literally nothing in your life that keeps you so busy you can’t send a text message for four days. He was off in Palm Springs by the pool some other chick. Admit it, accept it, move on.”

I just don’t subscribe to the idea that something is better than nothing. No. Only something good is. I have self-respect and I would rather just be on my own, be with my girlfriends, whatever it is, rather than put up with some of this ridiculous stuff.

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