'Insecure' Star Jay Ellis Breaks Down Lawrence's Big Blowup With Condola

The actor knows he's going to be "public enemy No. 1" after viewers see the third episode of Season 5.
Jay Ellis portrays Lawrence Walker on "Insecure."
Jay Ellis portrays Lawrence Walker on "Insecure."
PHOTO: Merie W. Wallace/HBO; ILLUSTRATION: Isabella Carapella/HuffPost

This story contains spoilers.

Well 鈥 #LawrenceHive, where ya at? In Season 5, Episode 3, aptly titled 鈥淧ressure, Okay?鈥 鈥Insecure鈥 certainly leans into one of its biggest strengths: starting conversations 鈥 and arguments 鈥 about love, life and how we deal with some of its messiest moments.

Lawrence (Jay Ellis) and Condola (Christina Elmore) reunite in a Los Angeles hospital room, with Condola鈥檚 perfectly cast mom (Lela Rochon) and sister (Keke Palmer) by her side. Lawrence hopped on a plane from San Francisco, after Condola shot him a quick text that she was in labor with their child.

Within the episode, audiences see Lawrence (finally) excelling in his career at a tech start-up, building a life in the Bay, and pushing forward with his dating life post-Issa, post-Condola and pre-parenthood. In the words of always prescient Kelli Prenny, Lawrence is having his moment of 鈥済rowth,鈥 but by the end of the episode, it鈥檚 clear he still has quite a bit of growing to do.

鈥淗e鈥檚 coming into adulthood and what being a man looks like for him. It鈥檚 been this wild journey of self-inspiration and frustration and heartbreak, all these things that I think are really starting to shape who this guy is going to become,鈥 actor Jay Ellis, who portrays Lawrence, Issa鈥檚 ex-boyfriend, told HuffPost. 鈥淚t is going to be a bumpy ride, but I think he is really starting to face some things, look at them and go 鈥淥h, maybe this vision that I had all this time and this life that I thought was going to be this one particular way ... Maybe I don鈥檛 have to be so rigid about it.鈥欌

Those rigid notions surrounding his life鈥檚 path were all tested in Sunday鈥檚 episode. Condola and Lawrence welcome baby Elijah Mustafa into the world, without much conversation about how they would co-parent their new bundle of joy. Lawrence promises to come down every week to visit the baby, determined not to be a deadbeat dad. Condola, who in the Season 4 finale said Lawrence could be as involved as much as he wanted, hesitantly accepts Lawrence鈥檚 re-entry into her life. But throughout the episode, it鈥檚 clear that their lack of communication is at the center of their issues: awkward conversations about baptisms and baby doctor appointments and a very public argument 鈥 and literal baby tug-of-war 鈥 about introducing Baby Jah to new foods.

鈥淗e actually hasn鈥檛 communicated what his plan looks like. He is trying to force this thing. Hopefully he realizes that maybe this is a thing he can鈥檛 force,鈥 Ellis said. 鈥淚 think he鈥檚 conflicted because he wants to do the right thing. I think he is a guy who often wants to do the right thing and maybe doesn鈥檛 know how to.鈥

Lawrence at his job in San Francisco.
Lawrence at his job in San Francisco.
Merie W. Wallace/HBO

In the episode鈥檚 final act, Lawrence flies down to Los Angeles to take Elijah for his first overnight stay with dad. When Lawrence arrives, the baby is very fussy, and Condola decides she doesn鈥檛 think the sleepover is a good idea. Then a big blow-up about Condola鈥檚 lack of trust in Lawrence The Father boils over. Condola calls Lawrence a 鈥減art-time good dad鈥 and refuses to let him leave with the baby. Lawrence, frustrated by Condola鈥檚 鈥減etty, controlling bullshit,鈥 goes 鈥 off.

鈥淚鈥檓 not doing this with you anymore,鈥 he tells Condola. 鈥淲e don鈥檛 have to talk. But just know I鈥檓 going to do what it takes to get my son with you or without you.鈥

Ellis, 39, said he knows he鈥檚 going to be 鈥減ublic enemy No. 1鈥 for at least a month; the best way to encapsulate his reaction to the big fight? Insert Homer backing into the bushes GIF.

鈥淪o much of what Lawrence says in that episode 鈥 and so much of what he is experiencing 鈥 is so obviously one-sided,鈥 Ellis said. 鈥淚t鈥檚 like all the stories that he has come up with are spent between his own ears.鈥

When he read the script, Ellis said it scared him a bit 鈥 so he went straight to creator/actor Issa Rae and showrunner Prentice Penny to talk it all through. He, of course, trusted their vision for how the rest of the season would play out but public perception isn鈥檛 always so forgiving: 鈥淚 don鈥檛 want people throwing stuff at me when I鈥檓 out in the world,鈥 Ellis said.

But as loud as Lawrence haters will be, there will certainly be a loud chorus of #LawrenceHive singing his praises. (One line in particular will certainly resonate with Lawrence鈥檚 biggest fans: 鈥淵ou made a decision without me and now you鈥檙e trying to use it as an excuse to keep him from me.鈥)

The actor takes all the talk in stride, and he looks forward to the social media reaction 鈥 just remember he is not actually Lawrence when you see him in the streets.

鈥淚nsecure,鈥 which is in its final season, taught the actor to think big about what鈥檚 possible in Hollywood, especially since the series broke all conceptions about how a show had to be told and who had to tell it. He鈥檚 still not quite ready to say goodbye: 鈥淚 haven鈥檛 really thought about the Lawrence chapter ending yet. I鈥檓 still in denial a little bit,鈥 Ellis said. Soon, the actor is set to appear in 鈥淭op Gun: Maverick鈥 and is currently filming rom-com 鈥Somebody I Used To Know鈥 opposite Alison Brie and Kiersey Clemons.

In the meantime, he鈥檚 ready for all the conversation that his character will stir up for the rest of the season.

鈥淚鈥檓 just happy that it moves folks 鈥 to me that鈥檚 the power of it,鈥 he said. 鈥淚鈥檇 rather be public enemy number one than nobody talking about it. That鈥檚 one of the things that we love. We鈥檙e very grateful to have people in their feelings on this show because it means we鈥檙e doing our jobs.鈥

鈥淚nsecure鈥 airs Sundays at 10 p.m. EST on HBO.

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