Film & TV

Grace Edwards On Writing For ‘Insecure’ And The Importance Of Telling Realistic, Complex Stories About Black Women

Writer, producer, and actress Grace Nkenge Edwards is known for her work on Loosely Exactly Nicole and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. During season four, she joined the writer’s team for Insecure, and it’s the first show that she’s worked on that is predominately Black. 

Years before the opportunity to work alongside Issa Rae manifested, Edwards remembers being inspired by Rae during the beginning of her career with her comedy web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. In conversation with Ruth Etiesit Samuel from HuffPost Black Voices, Edwards recalled how people inaccurately told her that her skin was too dark to make it as an actor. “It was cathartic and beautiful to watch this gorgeous dark-skinned woman, who not only was starring in this, who was a romantic lead, but who was also the creator of it,” she said.

What Edwards treasures most about Insecure is how the show depicts Black women in ways that have rarely been done before. “How rare and beautiful it was to see us on screen depicted so realistically and allowing these characters to be messy,” Edwards said. “I was a fan of ‘A Different World,’ ‘Girlfriends,’ and all those Black sitcoms from the ’90s, but this was different in the sense that it was getting deeper into these characters and allowing them to be messy and make mistakes. It meant a lot to me to know that it was possible, that’s the type of television that I wanted to see out there.”

Edwards’ writing on Insecure mostly deals with Molly and Issa’s friendship, particularly the highs and lows that we witnessed in the fourth season. She wrote Season 4, Episode 9, “Lowkey Trying,” where Molly and Issa try to mend their broken friendship, but it backfires. “Sometimes you do sort of get back together with a friend momentarily — not really having addressed the things — so you hope that you can sweep that under the rug. Even at the beginning of this season, it’s still tenuous. When there has been that level of hurt, it does take a minute, and it does take honesty and transparency to actually get through to the other side.”

On 'Insecure,' Molly and Issa's Friendship Is at Its Breaking Point | by  Lincoln Hill, PhD | ZORA

She adds that it’s okay to sometimes allow characters to make choices that wouldn’t be the most popular, because that makes them real, flawed human beings. “That’s what makes something more compelling in a way because you can see yourself in the mistakes that you’ve made in them. Sometimes when you’re getting mad at a character, you’re getting mad because you’ve done that yourself.”

As Insecure sadly comes to an end this season, this is only the beginning for Edwards. She’s the creator of Jodie, the animated series that is a follow up to Daria. It centers on Daria’s friend Jodie Landon (voiced by Tracee Ellis Ross), who is definitely a multifaceted Black character. Edwards grew up watching Daria and feeling seen by both Daria and Jodie.  “Like Jodie, I went to primarily white schools growing up, so I related so much to having to feel like you really can’t fully be yourself. Every time I would see Jodie, I would sit up straighter and I’d always want more. I felt like there wasn’t enough of her.” 

Now, she’s allowing the world to see more of Jodie, but in a different light. “We’re gonna see Jodie Landon, who used to be the perfect Black teen, come to a whole other environment and realize that she was the big fish in the small pond,” she said. “And now she’s a small fish in the ocean. It’s about her just growing into being an adult in a different environment than Lawndale where we get to see the 360 degree, full, three-dimensional character.”

Ayanna Nicole

Hi! I’m Ayanna, a 28-year-old writer and artist. Although I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with two degrees in art and psychology, I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. By following my dreams and utilizing my creativity, I designed Jaro Magazine with the ultimate intention of bringing more positive stories in the black community to the forefront, while also highlighting our versatile and vibrant culture through Jaro’s four modes: film, books, art, and music. I’m into spirituality, nature walks, music festivals, poetry, traveling without a destination in mind, painting, and discussing everything out of the ordinary with other curious minds.

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