Sarunas Jackson, aka Dro of Insecure, Talks His Role, Future and More

Insecure is one of the smartest, funniest, raunchiest and woman-driven comedies on HBO…ever.  Its overwhelming success can be attributed to the creative energies of Larry Wilmore, Issa Rae and Prentice Penny, as well as a casting director that hasnt missed a beat yet. Each actor seems perfectly suited to their role in the series.

Insecure as F**k: Season 1, Episode 1 Full Episode (HBO)

In the wake of her 29th birthday, Issa Dee and her best friend Molly reconsider their life choices. Watch the half-hour comedy series Insecure, starring Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji, Jay Ellis and Lisa Joyce. Created and executive produced by Issa Rae, this eight-episode series is also executive produced by Prentice Penny, Melina Matsoukas, Michael Rotenberg, Dave Beck, Jonathan Berry, and Larry Wilmore as a consultant.

Recently, The Shadow League had a great discussion with actor Sarunas Jackson, who plays Dro on the series.  For the unanimated, the character of Dro is a childhood friend turned grown up love interest of Molly Carter, Issas best friend played by the equally beautiful and hilarious Yvonne Orji. The relationship between the duo appears all the more salacious to the onlooker because Dro is married, but says hes in an open relationship.  As has been mentioned by Issa Rae and others on a multitude of occasions, Insecure is one billion percent, unapologetically, comically, and oftentimes calamitously, woman!

I asked Jackson about what it was like working in this wonder environment, and how has he changed as an actor since first setting eyes on the script.

For one, I was a huge fan of Issas from Adventures of an Awkward Girl from the Internet, thats why I feel so lucky to be a part of it, said Jackson. On the set, its about 80 percent women and I like working with Issa Rae and Yvonne. Our show is so great because of our writers. I feel like our writers are a pretty diverse group of men and women of different orientations, races and classes of people in age.  I feel even more motivated and inspired to create things that are really true and authentic.

Being authentic to ones self isnt always accepted when doing so collides with societal norms. However, Jackson told me he didnt sweat the potential negative implications one bit. For him, doing so would have been hypocritical.

I dont go hard on my character because I understand the truths of my character, he told me. Some people are very adamant about him, thinking that hes lying about being in an open marriage. As far as open relationships, Id never judge my character like that because Ive been in something similar before. So, Id never be judgmental toward my character…if you want to play a character truthfully.

‘Wine Down’ Ep. 5 w/ Issa & Sarunas J. Jackson | Insecure | Season 2

Insecure creator Issa Rae and actor Jay Ellis discuss new character Dro, one of Molly’s friends from back in the day, who is in an open relationship on this week’s Wine Down. Catch up on Insecure Season 2 now on HBO. Starring Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji, and Amanda Seales.

While most actors can play a role completely opposite to who they truly are, there are still some personal idiosyncrasies that always creep in. But the driving force and influence above all is his interpretation of how Dro truly cares for Molly.

I think, as far as my views, the good thing was I got have a really good conversation about our show writer, producer Prentice Penny about the character.  We had a lot of the same views and ideas for the character already. But he would help me get even more ground into the character if I had any questions.  I think why some people dont think hes not a villainous character is, at the end of the day he really does care about the relationship he has with Molly. 

Theyve been friends since they were children. You see him speaking Spanish with his father.  So, theyre very close.  The only thing that I disagree with is when he was messing around with Molly while his wife was upstairs at the party.  That was it.  Other than that, theres not much else I frowned upon. I feel like these characters are all adults and making conscious decisions while being honest with one another.  As long as were being honest then youre not taking the choice away from anybody. After that then Its your decision now you gotta live with it. I believe you dont have to adhere to the normality of what a relationship is supposed to be.  What works for you, works for you.

I had only heard the name Sarunas once before in life before interviewing Jackson, Sarunas Marciulionis formerly of the Golden State Warriors back in the late 80s through the early-to-mid 90s.

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TIS 11/3/1989: #SarunasMarciulionis #Warriors & #AleksandrVolkov #Hawks #NBA became 1st #Russian players in #NBA

I was named after him. My dad came to L.A. in the early 80s.  He was this crafty left-handed guy from Lithuania, and that name stuck with him. My baby brother, although his name is Darius and thats obviously more known in black culture, he was named after a Lithuanian hockey player.  My Dad had a little thing going with the Lithuanians. I dont know.  My name was almost Dante Jackson.  Im like Eh, I dont know about that. It might be a little rougher on the applications.

Sarunas on how his motivations have changed since entering the industry up until now.

My motivation, drive and consistency to make something of myself in this business with the package I have.  A lot of times Im not black enough for roles because Im mixed.  Obviously, my height and my age range.  So, its not too many people I see that look like me that I can relate to too much, but thats was something I was trying to strive for.  I want to give permission to others like me to go after what they want instead of being typecast as a basketball player or a thug.  From the beginning, I excepted typecasting so I could get work. I was doing a lot of basketball commercials. Easy transition being a former basketball player.

Then I started taking acting more seriously, so I started taking acting classes, reading books, looking up interviews for my favorite actors, studying script design and now I understand how scripts are written because I do a little writing myself.  So, that helped me with my craft. I just kept that going and kept that focus. Even when I was doing background work that day, I would mess around with whoever I was on the set with that day and give my character a whole story as if I was one of the lead characters.

On how his career has skyrocketed since starring in Spike Lees Chi-raq.

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Chi-Raq TRAILER 1 (2015) – Spike Lee Movie HD #cutthecable

Working with Spike Lee was lifechanging for me. I love him for that,” said Jackson. For him to give me the knowledge that he had, it reassured me. That helped get the ball rolling, giving me some more confidence for my more recent projects. All the time, looking for something a little different and that could humanize me a little more. There are people walking around in the world that are tall and dont play professional basketball. 

There are tall mailmen, tall garbage truck drivers, there are tall people everywhere. We have to adjust our frame of thinking. If Im out and about, people that dont know me will see people taking pictures of me and automatically assume that Im an NBA player. Then its Oh, what team do you player for? Because they just see people recognizing me. Its an interesting transitional progression in my career.  It was just a progression of opportunity allowing me to team up with the amazing team we have here on Insecure.

It’s been a good ride. I tell people that you cant just move from some random town to L.A. thinking youre going to be out here trying it for a year.  A year is 24 hours in L.A.  I did my first commercial in 2011 and Im just getting some kind of recognition.  You gotta pound the pavement.

Insecure: The Complete Second Season is now available via Digital Download on iTunes, Amazon and GooglePlay.

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