Langston Kerman Explains How Jared Is Unapologetically Himself

by Ashley Morton

HBO: What was your first impression of Jared?

Langston Kerman: The character begins a lot of conversations that are a bit taboo. He isn’t a dude that necessarily has any of the traditional measures of success — in terms of education or his position in society — but he is a dude that legitimately treats Molly nicely and is into her. So it’s a cool conversation to be having via the character.

HBO: What does he think of Molly?

Langston Kerman: Molly’s obviously very smart, and that’s appealing — as much as there’s nothing wrong with Jared’s job, it certainly isn’t the peak of what he wants for himself. Molly’s a lady that has it together, is charismatic and pretty — he’s into her. I feel like any dude that can see you at your worst and still want to come back is 100% down.

HBO: Is Jared aware of the vibe in the room when he mentions never having gone to college to Molly and her friends?

Langston Kerman: Yeah, he’s not an ignorant dude and he can feel the judgment, especially from her friends. But I also think this is something he’s been judged for in the past, and he’s made peace with. I don’t picture him as someone who apologizes for who he is at any point. He’s not going to say, “Hey, you know I messed up; you should reconsider being with me.” He’s like, “This is what I did. If it’s bad for you, then that’s just bad for you. But I’m here.”

HBO: Would you agree that Jared is one of the more confident characters on the show?

Langston Kerman: To say that he doesn’t have insecurities would take away the complexity of the character, but he’s a dude in his late 20s who’s made choices and has learned to make peace with those choices. Issa, Molly and Lawrence are not completely happy with what they’ve done, and are still trying to become happy. Jared’s like, “Nah, I’ve done it, I’m happy. I just want to continue to do more and figure out the rest of it.”

HBO: Despite knowing she’s seeing someone else, why does Jared agree to help Molly with the open mic video?

Langston Kerman: Their relationship still felt very open. Breaking up very quickly over a phone call is not necessarily the way to walk away and understand exactly what happened. For him it was like, “Oh, this door is still open, and a part of me still wants to see what’s inside of it.”

HBO: You and Yvonne Orji [who plays Molly] both have comedy backgrounds — what was the dynamic like on set?

Langston Kerman: We do a lot of riffing and s**t-talking, weird dance parties in the middle takes, talking a little trash and then going back into the bit. It was a real, good energy for both of us in terms of calming down and amping up when needed. It was fun to match and understand each other in terms of rhythm, style and pacing.

HBO: Do you bring any of your stand-up experience to set?

Langston Kerman: It’s weird being a stand-up and playing this character because he’s not a traditionally funny guy. He’s a good, interesting guy, but not somebody dropping funny lines every week. So I’ve learned to allow the humor to live in the conversations more than the individual lines. It’s challenging because being funny is what I like to do the most. Stand-up is my favorite thing in the world — so it’s strange to think, “Well I’m not going to be funny, but this moment will be, or this is an interesting idea for us to dig into.” You have to keep reminding yourself to stay grounded in the moment and see if that creates its own humor outside of just what you do.

HBO: What do you think of Episode 6’s reveal that Jared once hooked up with a guy?

Langston Kerman: There’s something really important in him revealing it, but I think the dynamic of the conversation afterwards [between the women] really shows how this is a constant struggle in the black community. How far are we willing to allow people to explore themselves, or be something different than the traditional stereotype of what a black man should be? Everything with black men is meant to be a hardened, idealistic version of what a man should be: We’re not meant to question sexuality, gender norms, or where we stand on it. It’s interesting to see a group of women debating whether they would even allow that to happen — especially liberal women, who in theory should be like, “No that’s dope, let him be whatever he wants; he’s good to you, you’re good to him, and y’all should just be together.” But instead it’s different for them.

HBO: Do you have a favorite moment from the season?

Langston Kerman: Filming in the club in the pilot episode really turned into a popping-a** environment — everyone was enjoying it and vibing together. That was a really fun energy for both the room and a show starting off and finding its legs. It felt like these are people who enjoy each other, and are going to be like able to turn this into something cool; it felt very reflective of things to come.