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Episode 23 (season 3, episode 7), debut 9/23/18: Alexander Hodge.
photo: Merie W. Wallace/HBO

If you ask me, and I know you didn’t— the best romantic interest we’ve seen for Molly on “Insecure” happens to be Andrew AKA Asian Bae. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that his character is not intimidated by her. He’s not afraid to challenge her, and he’s fine. That last point is not to be overlooked. While the addition of Andrew to the cast not only proved to be beneficial to the overall arc of the show, it also represented something significant for Hollywood.

For once a man of Asian—in this case, Chinese descendent doesn’t play into a stereotype. He’s a leading man in a romance without martial arts, nerdy tropes and asexuality. And none of that was lost on the actor who portrayed this role, Alexander Hodge. In a recent interview, with Huffington Post, Hodge discusses what makes this role so pivotal, learning to embrace his own heritage, and why he doesn’t bring his real life experience of dating a Black woman into the dynamic he creates with Molly on “Insecure.” Check out the highlights below.

“I think it’s so important to see a confident, outspoken, man bun-sporting Asian man on screen saying, ‘I want what I want.’ We haven’t had that before…My perception of male Asian identity came from media representation. And obviously, in the 90s, that didn’t give me much to work with.”

The lack of representation likely contributed to Hodge’s attempts to disassociate himself from his Chinese identity as he was growing up.

“I was ashamed of being Chinese as a kid, and would revel anytime I was confused for Polynesian, Hawaiian or Maori, because these other ethnicities had an exotic attraction and appeal that my [being] Chinese didn’t carry in a white society ― the irony being each of those ethnicities were at one time influenced by Chinese.”

Hodge hopes that his presence on tv serves as inspiration for other Asian-Americans who may be looking to see themselves onscreen.

“I think [Andrew’s] incredibly important for the culture. He’s important for my little cousins, so they believe they can be who they want to be,” Hodge said. “That they are strong, that their opinions matter, that they can get the girl. I hope they can find freedom in Andrew.”

The pairing of an Asian man and a Black woman is not only unusual on screen—and in life—it harkens back to a briefly controversial passage in Issa Rae’s autobiography, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl:

“Educated black women are too high maintenance, high strung and independent—they don’t need men. There is a widening gap between the education of black women and men, which doesn’t leave very many “suitable” suitors. Unfortunately, the higher one’s degree, as a black woman, the lower your chances are of getting married. Add to the con pile the stereotypes of being loud, complicated, and difficult. Black women, your reputation sucks.

Asian men are also overburdened with racial stereotypes that don’t really work in their favor. Why wouldn’t women want to marry and reproduce with men who are classified as intelligent hard workers? Maybe because Asian men are frequently emasculated in the media, or presented as sexes props, for comedic relief. Oh, if only they could absorb the burden of black male stereotypes (gentalia exaggerations included), maybe their demand would increase. Maybe that would make all the difference. Instead, the plight of Asian mend is nearly the same as that of Black women, except for the fact that their women tend to marry white or “other” far more often. In fact, Asian Americans have the highest rate of intermarriage. Asian men, your reputation sucks too.

This is why I propose that black women and Asian men join forces in love, marriage, and procreation. Educated black women, what better intellectual match for you than an Asian man? And I’m not talking about Filipinos; they’re like the blacks of Asians. I’m talking Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, et cetera.”

Interestingly enough, Hodge is in a relationship with a Black woman in real life. Still, he’s clear that he doesn’t bring his personal experience as Alexander into his portrayal as Andrew when he’s with Molly because it “would insinuate that black women are interchangeable and can all be treated the same, so I couldn’t allow myself to do that.”

“I would say the biggest thing my real-life relationship allowed me to bring was a more grounded appreciation of black culture and the black community ― understanding that just listening to J. Cole doesn’t make you an expert on the black experience. My real-life relationship definitely allowed me to sink into the character of Andrew more truthfully and see Molly for who she is entirely, without caricature or presumption.”

Yassss! Sounds like he gets it.

And lucky for us, Hodge and real-life love aren’t secretive about their love on social media. Check them out on the following pages.

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