They’re Glowing Up and Doing Good
By Allie Waxman
The Insecure cast joined Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles for a day of service.
When Insecure’s Yvonne Orji (Molly) met Victoria Green at church, she had no idea their friendship would result in her wielding a hammer. After volunteering together at their church’s nursery, Green, who serves as a development manager for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles brought Orji to build with Habitat’s “Power Women Power Tools” program. After her first Habitat experience, Orji was galvanized to involve the Insecure cast in a build, which took place in Culver City.
“To see the stuff we worked on last year progress to where it is now is dope,” she remarked. “To see how much having a home means to these families, I’m like, ‘Of course I can give you a couple hours of my Saturday.’”
Founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976, Habitat for Humanity seeks to provide “safe, decent and affordable housing” to those who need “a hand up, not a hand out,” Green explained. This means that all partner families — families moving into Habitat homes — are putting in hours of sweat equity in addition to paying their mortgage. “The mortgage is never more than 30 percent of our partner families’ income,” noted Audrey DeVoe, a development manager at Habitat LA. This classifies the Habitat homes as affordable housing in a market that continues to climb — especially in Culver City.
Along with the Insecure cast, partner homeowner Jemeel Powell got to work on his home, and noted how much it meant to him to have them there. “I’m really appreciative of people volunteering their time,” explained Powell. “It’s an amazing experience. My wife’s going to be terribly mad she isn’t out here today. She loves Insecure.” He added that his relationship with Habitat for Humanity wouldn’t end once he moves into his new home: “Habitat will be a program I contribute to for the rest of my life.”
Getting their hands dirty alongside Powell and Orji were Insecure’s Natasha Rothwell (Kelli), Y’lan Noel (Daniel) and Jean Elie (Ahmal), and while they made it look easy, the trio worked hard. “I’ve got a hammer, I’m on a scaffold, I’m just looking to not mess it up,” joked Noel, who described the construction process as “meditative.” Elie, who serves as his family’s handyman, added that it’s extra meaningful to use his skills alongside the partner homeowner: “This is very rewarding, it feels good to be able to do this.”
“This is much harder than HGTV makes it look,” explained Rothwell, who hadn’t had much prior construction experience. “I will show up and swing a hammer and do whatever I can to give back. Marginalized communities and those that need the most help are being overlooked,” she said, having jumped at the chance to volunteer. Orji spoke of home ownership as part of the American dream, observing, “everyone wants that piece of land they can call their own.”
Insecure and HBO launched an Omaze campaign, offerring one winner the opportunity to work on the Habitat build with the cast and to attend #InsecureFest. Emma Gullickson of Omaze noted how special the experience was: “The contest winner and the cast come from different places in the world, different backgrounds. It’s fun to see them wielding hammers next to each other.”
Winner Henry Wright added, “I’m having a great time and I’m trying to build the best home that I can.”