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We did it. For almost a whole year we chilled, we kept our cool, and we waited patiently for the return of the show that makes us rethink our relationship choices and cling a little bit tighter to our homegirls. But the wait is nearly over, and on Sunday, HBO’s Insecure will return for its third season. Once again, we can look forward to being transported to contemporary, Black Los Angeles with Issa (Issa Rae), Molly (Yvonne Orji), their friends, and the men they’re trying to date.

The entire cast has had a glow-up in the time since season 2 ended. Natasha Rothwell was the supportive ally to a gay teen exploring his sexuality in Love, Simon. Industry O.G. Amanda Seales — who plays the bougie and now-pregnant friend on Insecure — is currently in the middle of a national tour of her Smart Funny & Black show, which brings some of the biggest names in Black comedy out to celebrate Black culture and history. Yvonne Orji got a new boo and now co-hosts a podcast with Luvvie Ajayi about their background as Nigerian Americans called Jesus & Jollof. And Rae, who created, writes, produces, and plays the lead character in Insecure, received her first best actress Emmy nomination.

I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Rae to talk about how she’s feeling after three years of her hit series, what viewers should expect heading into season 3 (Lawrencehive has been defeated for now), and why female friendships are now more important to her than ever. Read the highlights, then check out the video of our full interview below.

On her own growth since starting Insecure and beginning a quiet takeover of HBO…
"As a creative you're just like I want to write stories and tell them. I don't know what that entails. I feel like from the internet, you have to wear so many hats to market, to get your show out there, to get viewers. There's so many things that you're doing behind the scenes that's just more than writing and telling stories. So in that way I've just become more savvy of treating every episode like a learning experience, because I never went to film school formally. I want to have longevity in this industry, so I'm just looking at peers and people that I look up to to just be like how can I make sure that I make a stamp and a mark in the industry where I feel proud."

She clarified the rumored “theme” of season 3 being toxic masculinity…
"It's so interesting. I did a red carpet interview at the Peabody [Awards], and they [asked me] what are some of the things that you haven't explored on seasons, and I listed a bunch of things. Toxic masculinity was one of them. I was like Oh that would be interesting to talk about. The next thing I [saw in the headlines is that] “ Insecure season 3’s theme is toxic masculinity,” which has been happening a lot for this season. So I'm interested for people to see. And I think we've explored that to a degree with other seasons, but we've never had like a prominent… type of thing. So there's certain things that fit within that, but that's not by any means the theme of the season."

What the Insecure writer’s room really feels like, why Lawrence (Jay Ellis) won’t be returning, and why we may see a different side of Daniel (Y’lan Noel)…
"[The writer’s room] feels like a dinner party. So many of the writers share their lives and what they're going through at that moment. It feels like therapy in some ways, too. But that idea to not have [Lawrence] came from [showrunner] Prentice [Penny] and I. We meet every season at a hotel cabana by a pool, have some drinks, and talk about where we want to go this season. We were going through Issa’s stories and Molly's stories, and when we got to Lawrence we were like, we closed our door last season. What if we didn't have him?

"And Prentice is so partial to Lawrence. That's his dude, and he's been so central to making sure Lawrence is a whole character. Because sometimes as women we either write ideal dudes or we write trash dudes. [Prentice] has always been the perfect balance of nah, dudes wouldn't do this. So he was just like Yeah, it makes sense that he wouldn't be around. Also [Issa’s] staying with Daniel, and so there's an opportunity to show the different perspective which really, really excited me. So that felt like we were starting over with this season. How do we shape who Daniel is? Because we've only seen him through Issa's eyes. We've never seen who he is. How do we make him a whole dimensional person, and how does he inform Issa's stories?"

On female friendships…
"One hundred percent I would be nowhere without my female friendships — a lot of my core friendships in general. Every female friend that I have has been in my productions, helped behind the scenes, has gassed me up when I've felt like Ah I don't think I should do this. Imma just take this temp job, has told people about my stuff. They're such a huge part of my life now because in the industry it's hard. In any industry when you're just surrounded by the same people who do what you do. Sometimes it can be competitive. Sometimes there can be resentment or sometimes it's just like you have tunnel vision for that specific thing. You don't realize there's an outside world. A lot of my friends are outside of the industry, so just to be grounded and in touch with this isn't everything. If this doesn't work out for me one day, I tried. But I know I can do other things in this world outside of this, and that I have a support system in there and vice versa. I would do anything for them."

The best part about her Emmy nomination…
"It's dope. I think what I'm most excited about is that it's just in time for the promotion of season 3… Which is just eyeballs at the end of the day to see the work that we're all doing to try to make the show the best way that we can."

Issa Rae On Season 3 Of Insecure

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