If You Can’t Get Enough Of Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell, You’ll Want To Check Out Her New Movie ‘Love, Simon’
If you’re lucky, you’re blessed to have a “Kelli” in your life. “Kelli” is that friend who will actually tell the waiter he has a nice ass after you and your girls have been whispering about it at the table for five minutes. “Kelli” is that friend that will tell you to get your ish together and turn off that Keyshia Cole mixtape, take some shots after a break up (and by the way, he had bad breath anyway). Most importantly “Kelli” is that friend truly living her best life unapologetically, being confident in the skin she’s in no matter how much mainstream images tell her she shouldn’t be and inspiring you to do the same.
It’s clear we love everything actress Natasha Rothwell brings to the character of “Kelli” on HBO’s Insecure and we recently shared that the actress who also writes for the show and has written for Saturday Night Live in the past is much more than Issa and Molly’s funny sidekick. Rothwell isn’t missing a beat, pursuing a few projects outside of the HBO hit show, including her own series for the network as well as her new movie Love, Simon which opened this past week. The Undefeated recently caught up with Rothwell to discuss what we should expect from the movie and how much of her own past experiences are captured in her character, Ms. Albright described as a “perpetually unimpressed drama teacher.”
Love, Simon is the story of a student who struggles with coming out, despite having supportive family and friends. He ends up seeking connection in an online community eventually corresponding with another closeted student at the school. Rothwell makes an appearance in the student’s life leading a school production of Cabaret, and she shares she didn’t have to look far for inspiration:
“I definitely was inspired by drama teachers in high school named Mr. Walsh and Ms. O’Neil, and both of them were very formative in helping me sort of understand theater. But I think my biggest inspiration is that I was a high school drama teacher in real life for four years in the Bronx.”
“When I moved to New York, I really wanted to find my bread job as close to my passion as possible. There’s nobility in waiting tables. But I really wanted to find a job in the arts, and so I started teaching.”
Rothwell shares that there’s a sense of the community in the arts that attracts those who naturally don’t take well to tradition:
“I feel like theater in high school seems to be sort of like the safe haven for the outsiders and people who don’t necessarily fit in. And it was a … come-as-you-are sort of class and it’s a come-as-you-are after-school activity.”
“I often worked with students who didn’t necessarily excel academically, but they thrived in the arts. And I think a lot of the sports teams felt the same way. They may not thrive in this area but were finding a home for their passion. And then that in turn motivated them academically because in order to participate in the theater program, they had to make the grades academically.”
When it comes to creating roles that shatter the stereotypes that black women are often labeled with, Rothwell says she’s on board:
“I can sit at home and lament the fact that a really honest-to-goodness rom-com starring someone like me doesn’t exist. I could bemoan that and throw a penny in a well, or I can write it. And I can type that version of that story in a writers’ room, if I should be so lucky. Or if I am blessed to direct or cast and have those says as an executive producer, I’ll do those things, and for me that’s an active approach.
“You know, we work twice as hard for half as much has been the hand we’ve been dealt. I want to get to work and I want to start creating those roles.”
And that series she’s developing with HBO? Rothwell isn’t dropping many details just yet except for the fact that it’s a comedy based in New York and she will write and star in it. She also reveals that the network has been very supportive of her passion:
“HBO has been incredible and a huge champion of my work, my passions, and has been a great home for my talent, I feel. Developing my own series that I will be writing and starring in is just massive.”
“And, I am really, really excited because I think we are going to be doing something that I haven’t seen before and HBO hasn’t seen before. That’s about all I can get into it about it.”
You can catch Love, Simon which is currently in theaters.