“Insecure” Star Natasha Rothwell On Her Second Act in Los Angeles

“As magical as L.A. can be,” Rothwell says, “it can be super regular and pedestrian, and that’s also beautiful.”

Natasha Rothwell may be a writer, producer, and key cast member on HBO’s Insecure—a superbly crafted love letter to Los Angeles—but she admits that she’s had a complicated relationship with the city since moving from New York in 2015 to work on the Emmy-winning series.

“The first couple of years I lived here, I was resisting it quite a bit because I’m so deeply from the East Coast,” says Rothwell, 41. But as the years passed, it became apparent that her rising career would keep her in the West. Insecure, whose fifth and final season premiered on October 24, has earned critical raves and a fervent fan base, and Rothwell often steals scenes with her character’s bawdy one-liners.

This summer, the former Saturday Night Live writer showed she’s also a low-key dramatic talent, starring as a mistreated hotel-spa worker in Mike White’s much talked about The White Lotus. And there’s more to come. She recently inked a three-year, reportedly eight-figure deal with ABC Signature. While she can’t reveal specifics about the upcoming projects, she says, “I’m definitely focusing on finding stories where we can shift the perspective and allow marginalized voices to have center frame and elevate the ordinary.” She’s inspired, in part, by the fact that Insecure’s central character, played by Issa Rae, is just a regular gal.

“She’s not the embodiment of Black girl magic. She’s just trying to make it,” Rothwell says. “There’s something really beautiful about that.”

The same could be said for the city she now loves, thanks in part to her dog, goldendoodle Lloyd Dobler. “As magical as L.A. can be,” Rothwell says, “it can be super regular and pedestrian, and that’s also beautiful.”

What’s a place in the city that most people hate but you secretly love?
> The Grove. It’s so touristy, and most people hate it, but coming to L.A. from New York City, it scratches the itch to have an outdoor shopping experience.

How do you deal when you’re stuck in traffic?
> Music. I basically feel that James Corden stole “Carpool Karaoke” from me because, when I’m in the car, it’s like a pop stage. So I definitely crank up the music. I used to do competitive karaoke in New York, and I work across genres. I love all of the songs on Jagged Little Pill and Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” is a fun one. I love ’80s R & B and SWV. Sometimes, I’ll do Boyz II Men and sing all the parts. I’ll duet with myself. I love Broadway, so I’ll do, like, “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors, but I’ll sing both parts. It’s a car crash inside of my car.

What has closed that you desperately miss?
> The ArcLight. I really enjoy an afternoon at the movies by myself, and that was one of my favorite places to go. The last movie I saw there was Little Women. I was the only person in the theater, so it was just me, my popcorn, and Timothée. What a freakin’ delight!

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