Issa Rae on How ‘Insecure’ Will Be Remembered After Its Final Season: “It Was for Us, by Us”

The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter

When HBO broke the news in January that the fifth season of Insecure would be its last, the internet broke into collective tears — and outrage.

“I didn’t anticipate how much in their feelings people would be and how much they would put on us to deliver,” co-creator and star Issa Rae told The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s Los Angeles premiere on Thursday. She thought the announcement would be so casual she wanted to drop it along with the season four finale until HBO urged her to hold off.

And as fans are about to get their first taste of the final season with its premiere on Sunday, Rae says, “It’s done now, so nothing I can do about it!”

After five career-making years, both for her and much of the cast, Rae said those last days on set were surprisingly emotional.

“I had been talking a lot of shit all season, like people asking me, ‘Is it going to be bittersweet?’ And I was like, ‘More sweet than bitter!'” Rae joked. “And then literally filming myself crying on the way to set like, ‘What is wrong with me?’ It caught me. But I’m just happy. I’m so grateful I got to work with these amazing people, and I’m in celebration mode.”

Of bringing the series to a close, Rae said, “We always talked about this journey that we wanted to follow from being insecure to being comfortable in your insecurities to being securely insecure,” and after making history for its representation of Black culture in front of and behind the camera, she hopes people remember that Insecure “was for us, by us and opened the doors for a lot of your faves.”

Showrunner Prentice Penny said that from his perspective, he hopes that behind-the-scenes progress is particularly where the show makes a lasting impact. “I’ve been a part of predominantly white shows and it’s always like, ‘Oh, we can’t find directors of color, we can’t find that person.’ We found them, they’re there,” Penny said on the red carpet, held in Baldwin Hills’ Kenneth Hahn Park, where he also shared hopes that Black crewmembers who worked on the show would have more opportunities with Insecure on their résumés.

As for the decision to end with five seasons, it’s a call Rae and Penny made from the very start of the series. “It isn’t a show you can just churn out mass things. It’s like a shoe cobbler that makes eight shoes. It’s like these are the only shoes I make and this is all I can make this year. That’s just our DNA,” he said. “We never wanted to overstay our welcome.”

When it came to reading those final scripts, Jay Ellis remembered, “All of us were like in a little bit of shock like, ‘Oh, that’s how it ties up? That’s what they’re going to go do?’ It was emotional, it was a high; it was also a low in a way because you’re like, ‘Oh we’ve explored what we need to explore with these characters, it’s time for them to ride off.'”

Castmembers Yvonne Orji , Leonard Robinson, Courtney Taylor, Christina Elmore, Wade Allain Marcus, Sarunas Jackson and Keke Palmer (a guest star this season) were also in attendance at the outdoor screening and party.

Insecure’ s fifth and final season premieres on HBO on Sunday.

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