‘Insecure’ Actor, Y’lan Noel Explains Why Daniel Isn’t The Bad Guy
Allen Berezovsky

Admittedly, Y’lan Noel wasn’t thinking about Daniel King when he auditioned for Insecure. Matter of fact, he read for the part of Lawrence (Jay Ellis), the doting longtime boyfriend of Issa Dee (Issa Rae) who suffers from big dreams with little practicality. Lawrence loves his girlfriend, but can’t see her annoyance outside of his ambition, and eventually, it leads to the demise of their relationship. 

Noel knew he could tackle the role, but the powers that be thought differently, offering him Daniel.

“I didn’t like the way he treated Issa in the first few, because I didn’t have any context as far as the relationship, because they hadn’t written that much,” said the Tisch School of Arts’ graduate who had a short stint at Morehouse Collegebefore transferring to act. “Long story short, I’m glad that the role fell into my hands.”

Fast forward through an entire season of ups, downs, twists and turns. The HBO show about an insecure woman is a hot topic, and Y’lan is permanently embedded into our minds as the fine, but potentially devious catalyst behind Issa’s problems.

But if you think about it, Daniel is not as devious as many believe.

“It’s funny how polarizing it is,” Noel said about Insecure fans approaching him in real life. “They’ll be people in the streets that are like, ‘Yo, I hate him. He’s a devil. He should die.’ It’s not necessarily their dislike for Daniel, they’re just showing how much they appreciate Issa and the authentic nature of her relationship with Lawrence. Then the other people —especially the dudes that come up to me— and be like, ‘Yo, I’ve been that guy before’ and they relate.”

Noel doesn’t particular relate to the situation, but he does understand his character well enough to know Daniel’s motives were only dictated on how Issa’s situation was presented to him, by her. In layman’s terms: her lies.

“I see him as being somebody who follows through with what he’s interested in, whether it be music or, obviously, Issa,” Noel said about Daniel. “He’s sincere. He doesn’t sit on his emotions —which I think is incredibly inspiring. He’s also very single minded. Not selfish, but single minded. He doesn’t know Lawrence or anything about that guy. He’s just concerned about him and Issa’s relationship.”

So what’s next for Daniel? 

We’re definitely not giving away any spoilers, but we will say, we love how all the characters make us think and analyze how we communicate in relationships. 

“The greatest thing is the attention that I’ve gotten has all been very positive, because of the fact that people really relate to the show. I’ve been acting for a while now, so it’s just validation for the work.”