chat room

Courtney Taylor on Playing Insecure’s ‘I Got It Covered’ Girl

Photo: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Seasons four and five of Insecure feature the formation and expansion of Issa’s business, the Blocc, which throws events by and for the local Inglewood community. Instrumental to the progress and success of the company is loyal intern turned executive assistant Quoia, played by Courtney Taylor with a self-seriousness that lends itself to great comedy, whether she’s barking orders through a headset or keeping Issa fed with a baggie of Eggos. Originally cast for a three-episode run in season four, Taylor reprised her role — a favorite in the writers’ room — for Insecure’s final season. Taylor spoke with Vulture about her fateful audition for the series, what she hopes to convey with the character, and her favorite week on set.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

You play Quoia as a focused intern who takes her job very seriously but still likes to have fun. What was your approach to crafting her character? Did you model her on yourself or anyone you know?
I feel like Quoia is a younger version of every Black woman I’ve ever met. What I did was make her take her job way too seriously in the most comedic way. I wanted to make sure I channeled a little bit of me into that, too, because I think my personality is just as vibrant. But also she’s a Black woman working for another Black woman, so she’s extremely excited about this opportunity. She’s someone you want to work with. You know she’ll get the job done.

What was the casting process like?
I got the audition three months after I moved to L.A. I called out of work, drove down to Manhattan Beach, and studied my lines in the car the night before. I was like, I have to get this audition — this is my favorite show! When I got into the room, I added a couple of ad-libs every once in a while, and I changed the cadence of the lines. The casting team was really feeling it, so they made me do a couple different versions. When I left, I told myself, Forget about the audition, we’re moving on. A week later, my manager called me and was like, “Hey, you got the part!” I didn’t have to do a callback or come back in, and they didn’t need to see a tape. It was just bliss after that.

I got those three episodes in season four and got a lot of great feedback on my character, so they called me back for season five. It was a fairy tale. If I had moved any later or hadn’t moved at all, I would have never gotten this opportunity.

Quoia has a lot of quirks: showing up at Issa’s house randomly, getting a nosebleed in a stressful situation, pulling warm waffles out of her purse. How did those bits come about?
Quoia, at this point in season five, is so comfortable with Issa. She knows she’s the executive assistant, but she’s going to do what needs to be done to make sure Issa’s life is as easy as possible — even if it means popping up when she probably shouldn’t. It highlights how diligent Quoia is with her job, and I loved how they gave her rein to be as hands-on as possible. For the nosebleeds, the writers were asking me if I got them, and I was like, “Absolutely not, but let’s run with it and see how it goes.” They also asked me if I ever eat waffles, and I was like, “Yeah, I eat Eggo waffles all the time, but I eat them dry.” So we did that scene last season, and they brought it back again this season.

How do you and Issa prep for your scenes together?
We’ll read the scenes together. Issa tries to make scenes as unique as possible, adding a little flavor of her and a little flavor of whoever she’s working with so the characters can be more relatable and spontaneous. Right before filming, we do a run-through to see what we’re comfortable with and if we have any ad-libs to make it funnier or more relatable. We get in front of each other, review our lines, go over some alt ideas, and then see what works when we actually start filming.

Do you improv lines once you’re on-camera, or do you tend to figure that out before the camera rolls?
We figure out a base before we start filming and then as soon as we start, you never know: Something could come to mind that sounds right at that moment. Or your scene partner could feed you something that allows you to loosen up and come up with a different idea. That’s the fun of working on set — especially with this group of people. Because not only are you feeding off the actor you’re working with, but sometimes the director will come in and give you alt lines, or maybe the writer on set will be like, “Why don’t you try this?” Everyone wants to see what will work, so there will be a lot of different takes with a lot of different alt lines. We have a lot of fun making the scene our own and jumping off the script every once in a while.

Do you ever get to pitch ideas for activations the Blocc is throwing on the show?
No, Issa and the writers know exactly what they want this show to represent. They do their research ahead of time and make sure that whatever type of event they’re gonna throw, it highlights L.A. Especially in episode eight, they highlight Leimert Park so beautifully and allow you to see places in L.A. that sometimes get overlooked. I don’t really have any say in that creative process — I just come in and say my lines and add a little pizzazz.

When we first meet Quoia, she’s promoting herself from intern to executive assistant — clearly hustling and wanting to be in the thick of the action. Did the writers ever give you Quoia’s backstory?
They did give me a breakdown: She’s Issa’s assistant, and she’s extremely excited about working. But what I wanted to bring to the character was that she was the assistant that made sure you weren’t gonna need any other help. If she could do all the jobs, she was gonna do all the jobs. I wanted to make sure you could see her ambition and her personality and see how ride-or-die she was for Issa even in situations where she really didn’t need to be. She’s an asset to Issa and not another hindrance to her already chaotic life; Quoia is gonna be her right-hand man and be there for whatever she needs. I made sure I brought that to the character because of all of the drama that usually occurs on the show. I wanted to be the “I got it covered” girl for Issa.

In episode eight of the final season, Issa imagines how her life would look based on whether she chooses to do business with Crenshawn or the NBW team. Quoia is in both scenarios. Which version of the future do you think she’d be rooting for?
In Quoia’s mind, she’s gonna go wherever handsome Crenshawn is going. [Laughs.] Early on, you know the attraction is there for Quoia. Even when he gets a little saucy, she’s still very much like, Oh, but Crenshawn now. Crenshawn is this fine man! I think she leans toward that, and that’s what she wants on the inside. She also wants to make sure she’s supporting her boss lady and whatever decisions she makes, but if it was up to Quoia, I’m certain she would lean toward Mr. Crenshawn.

What’s your favorite memory from your time on the show?
Probably the block-party episode. Being a part of those sets, being there for that week to film, and spending a lot of time with the majority of the cast members … it was such a great time. My favorite part was watching everybody behind the scenes get along so well and joke and laugh and have so much fun both on and off the set. They created a nice family of people, and you could feel how warm and loving the set was on and off the camera.

Anything that features the wobble for me is great.
I could not wait. Issa was like, “Do you know how to do the wobble?” I was like, “Yes, ma’am.”

What do you envision is next for Quoia beyond how her story wraps up at the end of the series?
We saw Quoia as such an integral part of Issa’s growth. I feel like Quoia would be on a journey that allows her to not only help Issa with future projects but also grow her own brand. As Quoia continues to be this right-hand man to Issa, it’s also giving her the experience she needs to grow and do her own projects. I think that’s why she’s so excited to be working with Issa and working these big events and always showing so much excitement for new accomplishments. Quoia is just as passionate as Issa is about creating opportunities for their community and highlighting the community, so they’re growing Quoia in a way that shows she might follow in Issa’s footsteps.

Courtney Taylor Is Insecure’s ‘I Got It Covered’ Girl