Are You Part of the #LawrenceHive? ‘Insecure’ Breakout Jay Ellis on His Polarizing Character

Jay Ellis - 2017 American Black Film Festival
Mychal Watts/Getty Images

He’s not a total jerk. But Insecure’s Lawrence (Jay Ellis) wasn’t the perfect boyfriend to Issa (Issa Rae) last season. The unemployed computer programmer spent too much time on their couch, moping over his failed app, Woot-Woot—so she cheated on him. This year, Lawrence got a new lady—then he cheated on her. At least he’s got a handle on his new job, right? Well… We talked to Ellis about baring his soul (and his butt).

What’s your take on Lawrence?
When we first met him, he came across as very one-note. He’s a slob. He’s selfish. He’s a total ass, if you will. But then we learned a bit about how he got there. How he was depressed and how he failed at something. And how he’s fearful of trying another time because he doesn’t want to be rejected again. So he clammed up, became cynical and didn’t support Issa. We’ve all been there. When I heard his story, my first thought was, “Oh, I know two dudes who are like that right now.”

Will he get it together this season?
He’s confused. He’s living life in this super-messy gray area and won’t take full responsibility for it. But things are evolving. And we’ll see more of him—not just the relationship Lawrence or the Lawrence who’s looking for a job. You’ll get to see him experience some success, you’ll get to see him happy, angry and hurt. You’ll see Lawrence from every angle as the season goes on.

And Jay Ellis from every angle as well. Lawrence is naked a lot. Are you at ease with it by now?
It is weird seeing your own butt on TV. I’m growing more comfortable with it because it happens so often. I wasn’t so comfortable with it when we started. I remember being on set and saying “Ah, yeah, I’ll be naked, whatever you guys need, let’s do it.” And then they were like, “So, we’re gonna do this in Episodes 2 through 1,000 now.” And I was like, “Oh, OK, cool, cool, cool. So I should just really make sure my butt always looks good, is what you’re saying?”