Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Constructing Multidimensional Characters: Insecure

Issa Rae

Lesson time 07:18 min

Awkward Black Girl and Insecure have something key in common: strong and specific characters. Issa delves into some of the most notable characters from her series and the growth they’ve experienced over time.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Insecure Character Study: Issa, Molly & Lawrence · Reflection: Inspiring Hashtag Debates


MAN: Quiet on set. Let's roll cameras. [MUSIC PLAYING] - I love deeply flawed characters. I love people who feel human, who feel like I would know them, who I feel like I could have a great conversation with, who I would fight with and argue with. Flawed people just make great characters. No one wants to watch someone perfect on screen. That's the most boring story, like, telling a story, like, oh, yeah, man, I had my perfect life, and I drove my perfect car and went to my perfect job, and that was it. Like, nobody cares. But there's just something great about someone who's just fucked up. It's just great to watch a fuck up. When I think about creating a character, I think about what redeeming qualities they have and the flaws that are getting in the way of what they want. Central to all of that is making sure that these people feel well rounded and making sure that they do feel like people that you know because, again, they kind of start that way. They start with people that you know. I also think that whether or not your character's fucked up, everybody believes that they're the hero in their own story, and that has to be evident. Like, no one, for the most part, is intentionally fucked up. Everybody has good intentions. And so your protagonist, your supporting characters can have good intentions but still be absolutely wrong, still be incorrect. Like, just because you meant to do good doesn't mean that you did good. And I love-- I love that back-and-forth. I love that dynamic as well. And that kind of balances the fucked-upness. [MUSIC PLAYING] With "Insecure" in particular, I knew that I wanted to showcase growth. I wanted these characters to start off insecure and then become more secure in their insecurities, you know? We always talk about this journey to being comfortable with self. And there comes a point when you're in your 20s, and, you know, your late 20s to early 30s are kind of when you're deciding, , this is who I'm going to be, and this is who I am, kind of take it or leave it. And so Issa is that awkward Black girl and is wayward. And I love the idea of exploring a character who just wasn't certain. And that's also where the title "Insecure" came from. I'd say Issa's biggest flaw, especially in season 1, is that she's dishonest with herself and about what she wants. Then there's Molly, who's Issa's best friend. And that was absolutely mine from one of my real-life best friends. And she was from South Central LA, but also went to a prestigious law school and was just always focused. But in observing our friendship, I found that I tend to be more aloof, and sometimes, all over the place, even though work-wise, I'm focused. She was very-- like, she, from jump, was always, I know what I want to do, I know what I want to do to get there. And where I was more flippant about relationships, she was more determined to be in one. And I would sit back and say, girl, what are you doing? Why? I d...

About the Instructor

The Emmy-nominated star and creator of the award-winning HBO series Insecure is here to show you how it’s done. Issa Rae uses her signature do-it-yourself ethos, humor, and voice to offer writers and creators of all types the motivation and tools they’ll need on their journey. Issa shares how she has navigated Hollywood while Black and inspires you to reach your creative dreams and never take no for an answer.

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Issa Rae

Emmy-nominated writer, actor, and producer Issa Rae teaches you how to bring your creative vision to life.

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