Every week, the cast and crew of HBO’s Insecure — the new series based on Issa Rae’s successful web series — is taking EW behind the scenes of each episode. This week, Y’lan Noel, who plays the smooth (and potentially homewrecking) Daniel, walks us through the fifth episode in the season, “Shady As F…”
On Daniel and Issa’s relationship:
Daniel has real feelings for Issa. I think that’s the most important thing I can say. When we first meet Daniel, we don’t know much about his shared history with Issa. That’s why when we see him respond adversely to Issa’s feelings about being in a relationship, it’s easy to automatically assume his attraction to her is purely physical. It becomes clearer, though, that’s not the case — by episode 5, Daniel has taken time to think about what she said that night, and he shares those same sentiments. He asks her, “Why’d you never give me a shot?” So, he’s obviously been asking some of his own “What if?” questions. They were more than just some old fling — that’s communicated by the way he’s looked at her since the beginning of the season — and he finally decides to seize the moment and express that verbally. I mean, sometimes these things take time.
On the fact that Issa has a long-term boyfriend, and where Daniel fits in:
Unfortunately, Issa’s in a relationship, but I don’t think that’s something Daniel pays attention to because he knows his previous place in her life. Plus, she seems to be very receptive to his energy, which makes it hard for him to pay any mind to the fact that she currently has a boyfriend. He heard her say that she has a boyfriend, but he sees the way she looks at him, and it’s the same way she always has. The audience sees Lawrence struggling to become better and trying to make his relationship work, but Daniel doesn’t see any of this. He doesn’t even know Lawrence’s name! He only knows that it’s always been natural to feel this way in Issa’s presence, and he thinks it would be quite unnatural not to act on it. Hard, but true.
On filming that sex scene with Issa:
During this scene, two things were affirmed for me. One, I’m a terrible winker. Winks just don’t come off as smooth for me as they seem to for everyone else. Two, my bra unloosening techniques are very subpar, and that’s no longer a private matter. It took forever and I used a lot of good, hardworking people’s valuable time trying to get that bra off. Melina, our director, had to come in take after take and essentially do everything for me beyond staying in the shot and doing it herself. She was yelling, “You can do it, Y’lan!” from behind the camera. The crew guys were looking at me like I was a disgrace and jokingly taunting me, saying they could unhook more complex bra straps with their less dominant hand. Literally, I was the most nervous this entire season when I was around a bra.
Other than that, it went as smoothly as such an unnatural act like shooting a sex scene can go. For both of us, it was our first time doing a scene like that, so the morning of shooting, I bought Issa a sausage biscuit from Jack in the Box (Daniel’s favorite breakfast spot) with pictures of camels that said, “Happy Hump Day,” as an icrebreaker. (It was a Wednesday.) She didn’t eat it.
Melina and Issa let me pick the music while we filmed the sex scene. Issa knocked my first couple of options and was like, “Absolutely not! ” She didn’t vibe with my sex playlist. It’s safe to say Future’s “March Madness” is not on hers.
Insecure airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.