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Everett Collection Yvonne Orji and Issa Rae in 'Insecure.'
One of the decade's most compelling comedies, HBO's Insecure, will not-so-low-key wind to a close later this year. And the woman who plays 50 percent of the show's most important relationship — Yvonne Orji, better known as Molly, Issa's longtime (and former?) best friend — hints that viewers may be caught off-guard by certain events in this fifth and final season.
"We went into it knowing that it was the beginning of the end, and just knowing where these characters started and seeing where they can end up — I think some things may be a surprise for some of our fans," Orji tells EW. "Hopefully everyone will be happy with how we tie the [series] up."
"With every episode of every season, our fans will be upset at something and then they will be happy at other things, and they will be stewing over other things," she notes. "Our fans have a myriad of emotions. We do not disappoint in keeping [that going]. Kind of like how we felt with the pandemic. Are we sad? Are we happy? Are we at peace? Are we tired? It's like: 'Pick your flavor of emotions: Insecure season 5.'"
What words come to mind when Orji sums up this final batch of episodes? "Unearthing, shedding, fulfilling, and growing. Unearthing lot of different things — emotions, feelings. Unearthing desires, wants. There's a lot of things going on."
Not the least of which is the status of the Issa-Molly friendship, which has been tested and maybe even outgrown of. But Issa (Issa Rae) and Molly's restaurant meeting in the final scene of the season 4 finale offered a few rays of hope. How optimistic should viewers be that these two are on the road to repair? "That was the conversation that was very, very necessary for them to have," says Orji. "Although we never hear what was said, the first episode of season 5 reveals what it needs to, in order to understand what happens with that relationship. But there were a lot of hurt feelings and there was a lot of possible mending that needed to take place. Are they ready to do that? We start to answer that."
Season 4 ended with Molly and her boyfriend Andrew (Alexander Hodge) seemingly realizing that it was time to end their rollercoaster romance. When Andrew asked her, "What do you want?" the tears that formed in Molly's eyes seemed ominous. But is there unfinished business between these two? "I can't give the scoop scoop," she quips. "But I will say: Keep watching. It may be interesting to see what you learn about that relationship."
Orji also shares what she has told Rae (who co-created the show) and showrunner Prentice Penny several times. "I'm like, 'When does Molly get to be happy? Can she please be happy? She's been through a lot. Can you all please do that for me?'" she says. "And they just laugh when I say it. As I'm reading the scripts, I'm just like, 'Oh, lord! Is she going to be happy, guys? That's my desire. I've desired that for her for many, many seasons.' And then it's kind of like, 'Well, wait, wait — what do you think happiness means for her? Because I have a very specific definition of happiness for Molly?' And they're like, 'Yvonne, let us do what we do best.' And I'm like, 'All right. Cool, cool, cool.'"
While Orji hints that the series finale "brings closure," it doesn't sound like she is quite ready to bid farewell to the show. "I'm like, 'When is the movie? Is there a movie?'" she quips. "Issa's like, 'Who said anything about a movie? Are you writing something we don't know about?' I'm like, 'I'm just saying.' So I don't want it to end. I never wanted to end. But I think we're doing the right thing by going out on the high note. We have specific stories we wanted to tell and we're telling them. It's like, 'Don't overstay a welcome!'"
And Orji has busying herself with plenty of other projects. Fresh off her first HBO comedy special, Momma, I Made It! in 2020 — which featured footage of her recent visit to Nigeria — the Nigerian-American actress/comedian wrote Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams. Published in May, the self-help memoir offers life lessons that she learned on her twisty road to success and the inspiration that she gleaned from the Bible while also delving into her unlikely journey into comedy after receiving her master's in public health from George Washington University. "I was trying to figure out how to bring this very ancient book into the now — make it relevant for today's individuals," she says. "People hopefully can relate to it a little bit more because we've gone through our own bamboozlement. In 2020 and 2021, we all got bamboozled. We had plans, weddings. We thought we were going to have jobs. We were going to move cross country and then a global pandemic shut it all down. So now more than ever, you can probably relate to the themes in the book, whether or not you subscribe to the religious themes or not. There's something in there for everybody who's ever been disappointed or just had the okey-dokey pulled on them."
Orji — who also lends her voice to the upcoming animated Netflix series My Dad the Bounty Hunter — can be seen next week in the Hulu comedy film Vacation Friends. She and Lil Rel Howery play an engaged couple who spend a debauched week with another couple (John Cena and Meredith Hagner) they they meet at a Mexican resort; things get weird when said couple crashes their wedding several months later. "When you go on vacation, your inhibitions are down, you meet people, you're like, 'Oh, they seem kind of cool,'" says Orji. "You make friends and you maybe do things with people that you're like, 'We're only going to see them on vacation. That's it.' What happens when those friends invade your actual life and consider themselves maybe more of friends than you [do]? It's a comedy of errors. Lil Rel's character is a little bit more like, 'I'm tired of them. I want out,' and my character is like, 'Let's give them a chance,' and we'll see who's right and who's wrong in that decision."
Vacation Friends starts streaming on Friday, while the final season of Insecure launches in October.