Insecure's Natasha Rothwell on Her Hollywood Journey and the Importance of Representation in Media

"I want to continue to tell stories that are unique, that are diverse, and that can show us in lights that we haven't had shined on us," she said on the #NoFilter Instagram Live series

Natasha Rothwell
Photo: Sally Montana / Redux

Natasha Rothwell is sharing her passion for writing, acting and comedy, as well as her goal for Black representation in media.

The multi-hyphenate star — who plays Kelli, a friend of Issa Rae's character Issa Dee, on the HBO hit show Insecurerecently joined PEOPLE's Morgan Evans for an episode of the :BLACKPRINT Instagram Live series, #NoFilter, launched by Meredith Corporation's Black Employee Resource Group.

During the interview, Rothwell, who also serves as a writer and supervising producer on Insecure, recalled how she began her career.

"After I moved to New York, I basically was working there as a high school theater teacher for like, four years," she said. "And I was doing comedy by night and teacher by day, as this very weird superhero."

As the classically trained actress, 39, juggled her work in the classroom and on the comedy scene, she said the experience connected her to her calling.

"I really just wanted to be as close at the proximity to my passion," she said. "It was through that process that I sort of cut my teeth in comedy in New York."

Rothwell, who went from landing one of her first writing jobs on Saturday Night Live to now leading ensemble casts on the big screen, also emphasized how important it is to have diversity in media.

"The very first time [I felt like I saw myself] was Nell Carter. She was on a TV show, I was super young, but I remember seeing her," Rothwell said of the late actress, best remembered for her role on NBC's hit 1980s series Gimme a Break!

Added Rothwell: "And as a plus-size woman, I remember [thinking], 'How did she get on that side of the screen?'"

Rothwell went on to stress the importance of sharing stories of the Black experience in today's industry — and said she's at the forefront of the fight to keep pushing the agenda forward, personally and professionally.

"I think so often there's a very narrow view of what people can accept as our stories, and I think it comes from the top down as far as what is allowed to see the light of day," she said. "I want to continue to tell stories that are unique, that are diverse, and that can show us in lights that we haven't had shined on us."

As for life amid widespread social unrest and the global coronavirus pandemic, Rothwell urged everyone to keep their priorities in order: Wear a face covering, and vote to make a difference.

"Make sure to wear a mask at all times if you're going to be outside in front of people, wash your hands [and] socially distance yourself," she said. "Please make sure you are registered to vote. We have the power to change the tide right now. Recognize your power, recognize democracy, don't give up on it even though it feels like sometimes it's given up on you. Commit to the process and vote."

For more, catch the :BLACKPRINT #NoFilter live interviews every Wednesday on Instagram at 5 p.m. ET.

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