Amanda Seales has made a career for herself by speaking her truth at all times. The best way to describe the 36-year-old comedian/actor/producer/DJ is as a modern-day renaissance woman, and her résumé spans her recording-artist days as Amanda Diva, appearances on VH1’s Best Week Ever, and her hosting duties on MTV. Most recently, you can find her on HBO’s Insecure as Tiffany DuBois and in her own two shows, Get Your Life and Smart Funny & Black.
Needless to say, Seales is a busy woman, and aside from her indisputable hustle, if there’s one common thread among all of her ambitious endeavors, it’s her no-holds-barred, shoot-from-the-hip, straight-no-chaser honesty. Whether she’s schooling ignorant reporters on catcalling, dropping her #IGStoryGems, or reading Caitlyn Jenner on her privilege — which she did as part of Katy Perry’s recent 72-hour live stream — Seales always keeps it real.
MTV News recently caught up with Seales about that night with Jenner, reaching an audience through social media, and what’s next on Season 2 of Insecure.
MTV News: Why did you think it was important to have that discussion about white privilege with Caitlyn Jenner?
Seales: One part of it was that we were at a dinner for exactly that: having difficult conversations. So if I’m going to show up, I’m going to show up and be a participant. It wouldn’t have been effective for me to come out there to this dinner and then not be a voice. ... It felt incredibly important for me that this type of messaging be put on display because so often it’s just not. I didn’t go there for the purpose of like, “We’re gonna put someone in their place!” However it’s so necessary to me to encourage people to be honest and true and to encourage these conversations to happen more frequently than ever with what’s going on in our country.
MTV News: How did speaking your truth become so important to you?
Seales: I feel like it didn’t become more important to me, it’s just always been at the core of who I am and how I was raised. My mom is an incredibly direct person and I like things to make sense. That matters to me. The truth is what facts are. I like facts. I like things to line up and be clear and when we are honest and true about things, it helps things to make sense and it cuts out a lot of the fat that gets in the way and causes for the misunderstandings that I believe lead to violence and... dysfunction, etc. So speaking your truth also is a key to me to finding your purpose.
I always say your truth is your compass to your purpose. [Society is] so much about what’s on the surface, and a lot of times that’s something that people have concocted and it isn’t actually what they really want to stand for. They feel like it’s what they have to put out there so that they can get to where they need to get. At a certain point in my life, I just decided I wasn’t going to do that anymore. If I couldn’t get to where I wanted to by being my organic self — which is a smart, funny, unapologetically black woman — then I felt like it’s not worth doing it, if i can’t do it the most organic way possible. Which is why I left the music business.
MTV News: After you veered away from the music industry, you started utilizing platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram to speak to your audience. Which platform is the most impactful to you and your career at the moment?
Seales: People be loving my Instagram stories, boy! I have to tell you [laughs]. And it blows my mind because I didn’t start doing them with any marketing plan or purpose. It was literally just, I’m an only child and I’m single, so I just be in the house having thoughts! It’s so fascinating to me how people are moved by that and are inspired by just my honesty, and that is just really encouraging to me because I put so much value into honesty and authenticity so I’d say my Instagram right now. But I will be broadening that out and doing videos on YouTube that are like extended versions of what I talk about on my Instagrams. People keep asking me for it, and you got to give the people what they want!
MTV News: With shows like Insecure, Atlanta, Queen Sugar, and more making a large impact on television over the past year, how do you think that’s affecting racism and racial injustices in Hollywood?
Seales: I don’t know if it’s affecting racism because at the end of the day people are still getting their money. We had this in the '90s with Living Single and Martin and A Different World and Girlfriends. There was just this influx of really great, excitable, black comedic, organic, authentic programming. And I use those words organic and authentic repeatedly because I consider them to be paramounts in art that have value, and right now I see shows like Atlanta, Queen Sugar and Insecure and, you know, American Koko, etc., and these are all projects that are just brimming with an authentic life experience that’s unapologetic in terms of whether or not it will be palatable to a white audience. I think that is a breakthrough and I’m really happy to be a part of that as a character on Insecure and a character in my own show, Smart Funny & Black, and doing so with an unapologetic lens of the black experience, black joy, and black history.
MTV News: Speaking of Insecure, last season we learned that your character, Tiffany DuBois, is a loyal friend. She’s bougie and proud, and she always keeps it real. What can we look forward to learning about Tiffany this upcoming season?
Seales: I think we get to see a warmer side of Tiffany this season. We just get to see more of what she’s really about beyond those surface things. That to me is what I’m really glad about. She’s not just bougie and likes her man. She’s a good friend, she works. We get to see more of that. We get to see a rounder, representation of this woman who is friends with these other women who are all just trying to do their best, man.
MTV News: Why do you think Tiffany’s character is essential to [main character] Issa’s friend group on the show?
Seales: I think Tiffany will say the things that no one else will say and she’ll say it in a way that’s different, and you need that in your friend group. Like everyone might be saying the same thing but sometimes you need it delivered in a certain way that you need it. With Kelly, there’s always a joke behind it, [with] Molly there’s always a certain level of emotion behind it, but with Tiffany, it’s a fact, and she cut through the bullshit with that. I also think Tiffany adds an element of glam because she’s very much about being tight and together and tough, and even though Molly definitely is a fashion girl it’s less about that. For Molly fashion is more of a thing that she does. It’s not like she defines herself as that. Tiffany is very much about that life. She wants to look a certain way, for everybody, especially her man, and that’s the contrast that’s so interesting to see: how opposite she is from Issa, who doesn’t care about none of that.
At the end of the day she’s important because she’s another example of a type of black woman. And we need as many examples as possible because for so long we’ve been represented as a monolith.
MTV News: Finally, I have to ask, are you Team Lawrence? Are you #LawrenceHive?
Seales: I’m absolutely Team Lawrence. I don’t even understand how people can not be Team Lawrence. Because how can you not be? I don’t understand how people can expect him to not — he didn’t cheat on her! He broke up with her and then he went forward. He ain’t cheat on her! So, you know, that’s my issue. People are crazy, but sometimes as women we need to really get over ourselves. She was out here sleeping with the next dude and we mad because he went and smashed shorty? Come on now. He was actually being really good about the situation because she was offering it up on a platter and he said, “No, no, no.” Yes, Team Lawrence.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.