Alexander Hodge is Andrew on Season 4, Episode 9 “Insecure.”
Merie W. Wallace/HBO

Before he was Andrew, Alexander Hodge was, in his words, “a broke theater school grad” mooching off of his friend’s HBO subscription. After being introduced to “Insecure” in 2016, he instantly became a fan, eventually auditioning in a Season 3 casting call.

“I’ve never been able to explore a character as deeply as I was able to with Andrew,” Hodge said. “Before this, I was struggling to get roles because there was no one looking for someone like Andrew. There was no one looking to give someone like Andrew that screen time and commitment to story development.”

That is, until “the jump off.” That’s how Hodge and the “Insecure” cast refer to the Emmy Award-winning series, the launchpad for countless careers. A long way from home in the land Down Under, the Chinese Australian actor is making a name for himself in Hollywood; he’s appeared in “Modern Family,” “Black Lightning” and the Netflix rom-com “Resort to Love.” He’ll soon star in an upcoming feature filmDirection by Adele Lim

“Before this, I was struggling to get roles because there was no one looking for someone like Andrew," said Hodge.
“Before this, I was struggling to get roles because there was no one looking for someone like Andrew,” said Hodge.
Merie W. Wallace/HBO

Hodge was a former rugby player from Sydney. After sustaining a devastating knee injury that ended his career, he flew to New York to pursue acting. Just five years into the game, his experience on “Insecure” taught him that his individuality, once perceived as a weakness, is really a strength.

“I’ve had to reckon with a lot of things myself in playing Andrew, in being on this journey,” Hodge said. “I’ve said in the past, I did really struggle with people’s perception before playing Andrew and even after. Being raised in white society I wasn’t made to feel complete, desirable or attractive in a romantic way. This show really forced me to look at that within myself.”

The significance of “Insecure,” which is his first series regular role, is not lost on Hodge. The viewer-turned-standout-star said that now, when he auditions for any project led by a person of color, they immediately express how much they love the series and his character. Hodge is also grateful to be a part of a project that depicts nuanced, authentic portrayals of the joy and messiness that comes with being “a young person who happens to be Black.”

With "Insecure" being his first regular series role, Hodge is grateful to be a part of a project that depicts nuanced, authentic portrayals of Black life.
Hodge was grateful for the opportunity to play “Insecure”, his first series regular role.
Merie W. Wallace/HBO

“It truly means the world for the Black women in my life to have a space for joy, to have a space for validation and recognition, to be able to look at a cultural artifact and see themselves, to see the space for them to thrive and it not be about trauma,” Hodge said. “Truthfully, it’s kind of set me up, because now I look for that in every other project, and it’s tough because not every other project can do that.”

Andrew makes his “Insecure” entrance as a friend of Nathan (Kendrick Sampson) in Season 3, Episode 5: “High-Like.” In the episode, Issa and the crew attend Coachella, a few of them indulge in some ecstasy and a messy “Molly-squared” makes an appearance. Andrew immediately takes an interest in Issa’s workaholic best friend, Molly (Yvonne Orji), and despite her attempts to dodge his advances, Andrew gets promoted to boyfriend in Season 4.

Lovebirds Andrew (Hodge) and Molly (Yvonne Orji) sit across from each other at dinner in Season 4, Episode 4.
In Season 4, Episode 4, lovebirds Andrew and Molly sit next to each other for dinner.
Merie W. Wallace/HBO

It’s a rightful claim. His sleek, sexy man bun, effortless confidence and seemingly endless patience with Molly captivated fans of the show, earning him the moniker of “Asian Bae” and his very own GQ Australia feature Combating stereotypes of the “sexless” or “emasculated” Asian maleBlack women are often left out of the equation by difficult data as the “least desirable” in online dating, Hodge’s character has broken countless barriers.

Hodge is cognizant of his role as an Asian character on a predominantly Black cast; he said he recognizes that “Insecure” is for Black women, first and foremost. If anything, he said, what he’s been afforded is a small piece of a cultural imprint — and what he does with said piece is most important.

“You don’t want a person who receives such appreciation from a community that inherently isn’t theirs to then go on and disrespect that community or, the next day, to do something that undermines that community,” Hodge said. “There is a certain duty of care and respect that goes in giving back and contributing back to the community that gave you a platform in the first place.”

Alexander Hodge, far left, is seen with castmates Yvonne Orji and Issa Rae, showrunner Prentice Penny, journalist & television host Elaine Welteroth and cast member Jay Ellis at the Lowkey "Insecure" Dinner.
Alexander Hodge, far left, is seen with castmates Yvonne Orji and Issa Rae, showrunner Prentice Penny, journalist & television host Elaine Welteroth and cast member Jay Ellis at the Lowkey “Insecure” Dinner.
Michael Loccisano via Getty Images

However, humble Hodge doesn’t go around thinking, “I’m ‘Asian Bae.’” He knows he’s not going to represent all Asian men, nor would he want to be the sole face. With the hypervisibility acting brings, though, Hodge understands the power of being placed in a position that people either see themselves in “or other people can learn about someone who may or may not look like me in their life.”

“I can’t allow a study or a statistic … to lord my life and how I’m going to behave,” Hodge said. “I can understand that it informs perception, for sure. For me as Andrew, the thing that I can do is contribute culturally to something that I think will uplift and progress a younger version of myself or someone who might see themselves in me.”

Season 4 Episode 7: Molly and Andrew go to Puerto Vallarta with Victor (Stephen Oyoung), and Lydia (Camille Chen). The trip comes to a head when Molly attempts to get a towel for Lydia, but a white employee acts “selectively racist” toward her, demanding proof of a hotel keycard. Molly laments about the incident — and an argument ensues when Victor plays devil’s advocate and Molly claims Asians pick and choose when they want to be people of color.

Hodge recalls that he read the dialogue with Prentice Penny as showrunner, and that he thanked Andrew for being the conduit for the conversation.

In Season 4, Episode 7 of "Insecure," Molly (Orji) and Andrew (Hodge) take a trip to Puerto Vallarta, where an argument ensues between Molly and Andrew's brother.
In Episode 7 Season 4 of Insecure, Molly (Orji), and Andrew (Hodge), take a trip down to Puerto Vallarta. There they have an argument between Andrew and Molly.
Merie W. Wallace/HBO

“The point of view that Molly brings up is something that I’ve thought about for a long time. Asians will not be as white or black as they try. And we’ve seen Asians do both,” Hodge said. “The important thing for me is I want to help my community develop its own identity. It is my goal to unite, build camaraderie and help each other, as well as give them a chance to find their feet. It’s really important to have these kinds of conversations and to portray these existences, because they are there. To shy away from it is to censor it, and I’m not really interested in that.”

Hodge considers it a priority to create and contribute stories that are inclusive of Asian actors. Hodge wants to keep the same idealism and celebrate people like his parents or grandparents.

“I wasn’t born into this industry. I was born into a world far away surrounded by Black and brown people and people of all different hues, experiences and identities that were never accounted for in mainstream media,” he said. “Now that I’ve broken into the industry through the back door, it’s important to me to remember the people where I came from and to move in a way that would honor them. I want my younger self to be proud of me.”

Hodge was cast in an unknown R-rated comedy by Lionsgate, directed and produced by Adele Lim. This news was made public in October. Hodge said that it was a special experience to work on this film.

"Now that I’ve broken into the industry through the back door," Hodge said, "it’s important to me to remember the people where I came from and to move in a way that would honor them. I want my younger self to be proud of me.”
“Now that I’ve broken into the industry through the back door,” Hodge said, “it’s important to me to remember the people where I came from and to move in a way that would honor them. I want my younger self to be proud of me.”
Fred Hayes via Getty Images

“Asian women getting to be like, raucous and dumb and loud and R-rated,” he continued, “This film means the world to me. Young Asian women should have an example of cultural realism that gives them visibility and allows them to be more than the stereotypes that the white community has made about Asian women. A women-led project is what I envision for our community. Contact usExternal and external forces Contact us to look at them through their experience.”

His role in the upcoming movie “very much resembles the genre of which Andrew exists,” Hodge said with a laugh. As he steps into the next phase of his acting career, Hodge is looking for opportunities to expand — but he’s grateful to be here, nonetheless.

“We can go through the amount of Asian leads that should have had expansive, beautiful careers — Paolo Montalban in Brandy’s ‘Cinderella,’ Dante Basco in ‘Hook’ — who for some reason or another, were not able to expand beyond what brought them in the limelight in the first place,” Hodge said.

“I’m grateful to be able to exist in this space while I have it, to be able to represent in a way that we haven’t really been afforded the opportunity to before,” Hodge said. “But I also look forward to a time where we don’t have to fight so hard to do it, and I think that goes across the board.”

Source: HuffPost.com.

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