Sunday, May 22, 2022

EUR Q&A: ‘Insecure’s’ Gregg Daniel Speaks on His Character’s Ups and Downs in Final Season

Molly-and-David-Gregg-Daniel-Insecure-Season-4-Episode-3-'Lowkey-Thankful' -HBO-scaled
Gregg as David Carter with Yvonne Anuli Orji as Molly Carter, ‘Insecure’

*The first episode of the final season of HBO’s “Insecure” aired last month on October 24 where it focused on the strained relationship between Issa and Molly.

At the end of the episode, it teased other upcoming story lines of the final season including Molly’s own strained relationship with her father played by legendary actor Gregg Daniel.

Portraying “David Carter,” Daniel speaks about the growth of his character coming from a cheating father to a now devoted husband who strives to heal his broken family due to his past infidelity.

Via a submitted Q&A with Daniel about the final season, he spoke on the ups and downs his character will go through and more.

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1. Which episode has been your favorite to film thus far of Insecure and why is it your favorite?

Wow, that’s a tough question! That’s like asking a parent, who’s your favorite child? I’ll tell you what I always enjoy is episodes with the Carter family. When I’m working with L. Scott Caldwell, Yvonne Orji, Richard Nevels, and Malcolm David Kelley, it’s always a great time. We have this amazing chemistry, and it helps us bring the Carter family to life. We were cast totally separate, and just put together as a family but it works really well. I also like the episodes when either “Issa” or “Molly” has to make a decision that has to be made somehow or when the show has reached some crucial point. I love those moments because that means the characters are going to grow from the experience, which is what this show is all about.

2. How does the last season approach the dynamics of Molly and David’s relationship? What should we expect to see in this final season?

I can’t speak much about it, but relationships are tough. Especially when you’re that age and you’re still finding out who you are and who you want to be in the world. I would say “Molly” and “David” are dealing with crises and decisions that ultimately will be for the best, but it may or may not be decisions that keep them together. The whole point is in relationships, it’s all about negotiation. For them the question is, are you at the point in your life where you can negotiate a way to accommodate this person? And if you’re not, what does it mean if you let go of your significant other? So again, I can’t say specifically, but it’s a crisis point that leaves a decision to be made.

3. In Showbiz CheatSheet’s recent article about your role in Insecure you revealed “this is a season of change,” can you tell us a little more about what this means?

I think the writers and producers wanted to tie up the final season of Insecure in a way that was satisfying for those who love the show. So the change may not always be what you want it to be. We see the characters making decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Because this is the final season, it’s even more urgent and crucial that the decisions they are making are the best for them. The message is that you have to make decisions, and it may impact you in ways you never expected. But that’s why I always loved the show because I love seeing these young, dynamic, BIPOC women navigate their messy lives in a city like Los Angeles. They might have to make heartbreaking choices, but they have to change in order to grow.

Gregg Daniel
Gregg Daniel

4. You have an extensive list of acting credits! Looking back, which of these roles has been your favorite and which have you grown the most in?

I’ve learned that it’s not only the role, it’s the director that makes a difference as well. Being able to work with directors and writers who are willing to go with your character and change things and gives you a chance to really get in touch with your character. I would definitely say working on True Blood was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Alan Ball was one of our writers and he diligently created my character “Reverend Daniels”. Being on set and having a director that’s committed to helping you do your best work is really exciting. So it’s not just the role, but also how it informs the directing and the writing that goes along with it.
True Blood certainly had terrific directors that helped filming be a lot of fun. The writing was superb, and they took time to let you work and come up with the perfect portrayal of your character.

5. Issa Rae recently spoke about how she was advised to add white characters into Insecure so that white people would care. How do you feel about this? Do you think more white actors were needed in Insecure with predominantly Black actors?

I really resent that. In other words, they’re saying people won’t be interested in Insecure unless they’re white characters attached. I think it’s inherently bigoted and racist to say something like that because I don’t see people going to white centered shows like Friends and urging them to add a black cast member to appeal to African Americans. So why are you putting that on us? Why is there this double standard for the black show? This is one of those little microaggressions that is basically revealing they believe it’s not interesting enough to have a show portray African American characters and their lives. They believe other races couldn’t possibly find enough interest in a show like that and it’s ridiculous. I completely reject that they would care more if white characters were involved and I think it’s insulting.

6. Who has been among your favorite people to work with? Who has served as your acting inspiration?

There’s so many great actors that I’ve drawn inspiration from. From Sidney Poitier and Gloria Foster to Ivan Dixon, they’ve been shoulders that we stand on because they were pioneers. These were African Americans who still brought dignity and grace to their roles, even though they were working and living in times that were so racist and bigoted. Every time I saw Sidney Poitier on screen he was this dark, handsome, black man who always carried himself well.
Even when he played a convict in The Defiant Ones. There’s so many black actors from that time that if it wasn’t for them, I probably would not have gone into the craft of acting because they gave me the permission to do so. They weren’t buffoons, they weren’t always the butt of the joke, and instead they portrayed dignity and strength. I thank them all because without those before me, I probably would not have envisioned that I could have become an actor.

Recently, my favorite people to work with would have to be the Carter family on Insecure because we really feel like a family when we’re together. It’s a strong dynamic.

Gregg Daniel
Gregg Daniel

7. You have been so blessed to have an extensive acting career. How do you feel about your career growth thus far? What would you like fans to know about your career and your journey as an actor?

I’ve always looked for roles that people can empathize with and for roles that as a black man, I could be proud of. I look at consciousness raising roles that appeal to the heart and not just the head. To me, those are the best kinds of roles because through these roles you get to teach something. And not teach something in terms of a lesson, but just through the acting, through exhibiting the emotions of who you are, you get to learn because in turn, you learn who people are. The role has to do something to teach us about the human condition or else I don’t really want to do it. I also always said I would never do a role that I would be ashamed for my wife or my daughter to see. That was always a litmus test for me because it’s so important for my family to see me in roles that are true to me.

8. What was it like for you as an actor dealing with the pandemic of 2020? How did you hold up?

First of all, my heart goes out to all the families and all the people who lost loved ones. I didn’t face that in my family, but my heart aches for the over 750,000 Americans that have died from COVID during the pandemic. I don’t downplay the fact that we were lucky and that we were healthy. I always think of the people who lost loved ones and whose lives will never be the same. But beyond that, I do have a theater company out here in Los Angeles and through the company we put out multiple commissions, that were all virtually done through Zoom. We put out commissions to some playwrights across the country, and from then we had actors portray the characters to bring the stories to life. During COVID, we had a terrific audience of people who watched because people needed to understand and acknowledge that this is what we’re going through. We used online platforms to present the material, but we kept getting actors, directors, and writers working. My colleagues and I at the theater company believe that the very nature of artists is to find a way to continue to communicate. So I was proud that we found a way to still engage our audience and create a community despite what was going on.

9. What is your dream role and who would you cast to act alongside you?

I’d like to go back to doing classical theater. I was trained initially in New York as a classical actor, and I love doing Shakespeare and the Greek tragedies and dramas. I would love to go back to the stage again and be able to do that. I think I’d like to play Othello because I’d like to take a shot at that and some of the other great roles, King Lear. The thing about being onstage, is it’s a training ground every night because there’s a different audience. I would love to work with someone like Jeffrey Wright because he’s such a strong act and seems like a really good guy. I would love to do Othello or any play with him.

10. What are some of your favorite films and/or series at the moment?

Wow, there’s so many. I was a huge Game of Thrones fan. I also found Your Honor with Bryan Cranston to be really riveting. I’m also a huge fan of shows like Bridgerton by Shonda Rhimes, and The Handmaid’s Tale. Lovecraft Country was also one amazing show. Not just the acting, but the directing as well. Everything from the cinematography to the look of the show and the costumes. And of course, it was one of the last roles from Michael K. Williams and he was outstanding. I was really crazy over that. I would work on Lovecraft Country for free if they called me to!

11. Do you ever see yourself behind the camera and direct different film and TV projects?

Yes, I definitely do. I currently direct stage theater. But I would love to branch out and direct tv or film. A part of what I did during the pandemic earlier this year I directed a play that we shot with four cameras. That experience really increased my appetite to direct again, because I got to use the cameras in an entirely new way. I got to appreciate camera work in a different way in terms of picking up the different kind of shots and angles. I would love to branch out into directing again because it’s another way of telling stories.
source: Adrianna Solomon – Mayhem Entertainment Public Relations

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