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Insecure’s Yvonne Orji Isn’t Sure Who to Blame For Molly and Issa’s Big Fight

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO

All season long, Insecure has made us wonder about who Issa was talking to on the phone when she declared, “Honestly, I don’t fuck with Molly anymore.” Sunday’s episode, “Lowkey Movin’ On,” finally reveals she was talking to Nathan on the night before her big block party. As if hearing Issa say “I don’t know if I call her my girl” isn’t unnerving enough, what follows—the block party blow-up—leaves viewers wondering if the Inglewood besties can ever come back from this.

“It’s never easy to fight with Issa,” actor Yvonne Orji says, reflecting on having to perform the duo’s many squabbles over four seasons. But this time, she concedes, it does feel different between Molly and Issa. As they grow as individuals with their own interests, they are also growing apart as friends. “Sometimes you know too much of someone’s mess. It’s not that you don’t appreciate their point of view, but you just know too much so you don’t listen,” she said.

While staying at home in LA during the pandemic, Orji says she’s been working on her own personal growth and healing and putting the finishing touches on her memoir Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams. In it, she explores her faith and personal journey, drawing parallels to stories from the Bible. She also has a debut standup comedy special, Momma, I Made It!, launching on HBO on June 6.

Season three left things up in the air between Molly and Issa after Molly interfered with Nathan, but when do you think their issues started?
Even in season one, they had “Malibu,” which was their way of saying, “Okay, this is how we get to the truth.” I think it’s a little crack that was the foundation of their friendship. These cracks exist, but we bounce back. It just ebbs and flows. It’s how we function. Our unit is strong enough to withstand these little cracks. And now it feels like these cracks have created a rift.

We don’t necessarily see the conversations that happen with them after the Nathan thing. In my mind, between last season and this season, once they were able to talk it out, there was understanding. I don’t think it’s until we see the life changes—Molly has this guy that she didn’t know she liked as much as she did, and then Issa has this block party that she’s pouring her life into—it’s different. It’s new. When they were both messy in their own ways, it worked. But now that they’re both trying to level up in their own ways, that’s what’s causing the rift. The old way of interacting was comfortable. Now their worlds are spinning. Issa has Condola and Molly has Andrew. They have other things and other people to look forward to.

And yet, when Issa called her out in the third season finale, Molly listened. It prompted her to call Andrew and apologize and led to the relationship she has with him now.
Sometimes the truth hurts and you need a minute to digest it. [Laughs.] It’s like when your parents tell you something and your immediate answer is “No.” But then you’re like “Dang, they’re kind of right.” You’re just conditioned to think they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s the same thing here. Molly doesn’t like how she delivered it, and barely even likes the messenger right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccurate.

I think they’re both feeling that. Like, when Molly asks Issa if she’s sure about being okay with Condola, the reality is that Molly’s right because we saw Issa confessing to Ahmal how she really feels about seeing Lawrence and Condola together. Which is exactly what Molly has been saying. The people closest to you know you the best and know you the worst as well. I follow the Holistic Psychologist and all these different psychologists and they talk about how we can’t rush other people’s processes for them. Sure, we can see the trauma and what needs to be addressed, but trying to force feed that onto somebody is actually doing them a disservice because everybody needs their own pathway. I think that’s something these friends don’t realize. Just because you can see my issue before me doesn’t mean that I should see it right away and that I know what to do with it, even if I do see it right away. That’s life!

Issa Rae said in an interview that people on set had different opinions about who’s at fault—Molly or Issa—but that it’s clear to her who she blames for their drama. That surprised me because it feels like they’re both making mistakes. How do you feel about it?
Wait, who did she say was at fault?

She just said that in her mind, it’s very clear who’s at fault, but she’s leaving it for people to interpret.
Interesting. What’s funny is I feel like the fault goes both ways. It’s constantly ping-ponging, right? In one episode, I can see Molly’s point of view. In another, I think Issa was right. It just goes back and forth like a ping-pong match. I don’t know who’s right! And then it’s like they’re both wrong. I do not have an answer. They both play a role.

Issa felt that Molly overstepped with Nathan and now Molly feels that Issa overstepped with Andrew at the block party.
I don’t know if it’s double standards or their blinders. Maybe it’s a little bit of both because it’s like, how do you not see? Y’all are doing the exact same thing! But I think that things are different when it’s for you. In Molly’s case, with Nathan, she was genuinely like, “Nah, you’re not about to mess with my friend.” And also, she probably was like, “You’re not about to mess up my day either. ‘Cause if you mess her day, then you mess up the things I had planned and now I gotta console her.” So it’s a little selfish, but it’s also serving.

With Issa’s request, it’s “Girl, I need a win, and I’m coming to you first. I gotta get this win. I’m trying to do something bigger that I didn’t even think I could do. So help me out.” And when Molly doesn’t, is that petty? Or is that boundaries? Molly had to respect that Issa’s choosing not to talk to her at Thanksgiving, so how come now Issa doesn’t respect that she doesn’t want to muddle the lines between her relationship and her friendship? Especially since the friendship is in shambles. Was it petty? Maybe. Or was it just setting boundaries?

For a minute, things were heading in a good direction at the block party. But it went downhill fast. What was it like to film that fight scene?
It’s never easy to fight with Issa. Also, this season was very different because we didn’t see each other that much because Issa and Molly have their own lives. The fact that when we did get to see each other, it was under turmoil, I did not like this at all. By the time we got to episode five, it was an explosion, but at least it wasn’t the first time we fought — and it was building to this, so it was expected. I was tapping into friendships of old that I had lost, and the pain of those things coming out as motivation. The whole time I’m doing the scene, it’s like, How did we let it escalate to this point? Why are we in this moment? Not fun at all. Never fun to shoot those.

Did you shoot that before or after you wobbled together?
We shot the fight after. At that moment, we were like, are we coming back from this? Are we finally at a place where we can have fun again? And then the turn happens immediately. You see the wheels turning when Molly is talking to Andrew. This ho went behind my back after I told her… and to Issa’s point, she says, “I didn’t go behind your back. I talked to Nathan and Nathan went and talked to his boy. I respected your boundaries, but you weren’t going to do it for me, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still get my win.” Did Molly overreact? We don’t know! Was she justified? Up in the air!

How do you view Molly’s growth this season?
I think Molly does Double Dutch. One second, you’re like, she’s got it! I think she does growth as a checklist. Okay, I grew! Boom, Boom, Boom! No, boo boo, you gotta work. It’s a constant evolution. I went to therapy! No, one session does not unravel 18 years of trauma. So then a situation presents itself, and it’s like, no, boo, this is how we know you don’t got it because you did not pass this test. Go back to the drawing board. And so, Molly’s growth hasn’t been sustained yet. It’s like a baby who’s really trying to walk and he’s mastered crawling, and so they’re like, “Oh, I can stand now.” And then the minute they try to take their first step, they fall down. Molly’s like, “I stood up, now I’m trying to run.” No, girl, you’re about to fall.

Do you think Andrew is good for her?
I think if she’ll let him be, he will be. Andrew presents a calm. He allows her the liberty to be fully herself. The issue is that she doesn’t really know who herself is. She second guesses. Should I invite him to Thanksgiving? If she could just figure out who she is, it’ll make loving her that much easier. And it would also make loving herself that much easier so that she could love somebody else. But she’s trying to love him from her broken place.

Is there reason to hold hope for Molly and Issa and Molly and Andrew?
The appeal of Insecure is that you’re always hoping the best for these characters. You’re seeing them at their worst. This season, the fans are very upset with Molly and I know because of their tweets. [Laughs.] Hopefully, she’ll get it together because I’m really trying to root for her. The hope of growth and the hope of healing is embedded in the relatability of these characters. We see ourselves in these characters. Did you have hope for yourself when you were a mess? [Laughs.] You wanted to get out of your mess. You’re rooting for somebody to get out of their mess and the only way to get out of your mess is to get out of your own way. And so we hope.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Yvonne Orji Isn’t Sure Who to Blame For Insecure’s Big Fight