• Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

‘I Am Not A Soror’: Amanda Seales Responds To AKA Backlash

Amanda Seales plays Toffany DuBois in HBO's 'Insecure.'

The fifth and final season of Insecure premiered on Oct. 24 on HBO. While viewers don’t know what will happen with Issa’s (played by Issa Rae) messy, millennial friend group as the series comes to a close, some Insecure watchers were certain about one thing– Amanda Seales’ character’s portrayal as an Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. member.

During the episode, Black Greek Twitter was quick to call out Seales’ character, Tiffany DuBois, for wearing an AKA sweater for the majority of the episode.

In the episode, Tiffany returns to Stanford University with her husband, Derek (Wade Allain-Marcus), and friends Issa, Molly (Yvonne Orji), and Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) for their 10-year reunion.  She wore a pink and green Gucci outfit to the ten-year reunion at her alma mater. And in another scene, her character sported the sorority’s shield and letters on a cardigan.

The backlash

Although DuBois reps hard for organization, in real life, Seales is not a member of the sorority. And as far as the AKAs are concerned, The Black Lady Sketch show host should not be wearing their letters, not even for acting. As a result, she’s receiving real-life backlash for her fictionalized portrayal.

“No Amanda Seales don’t have my letters on… wardrobe has gone too far,” one AKA tweeted.

 

Both Tiffany and Molly (played by Yvonne Orji) are members of the sorority on the show. Molly once had an AKA coffee mug on her desk during an episode.

In a Teen Vogue interview with Insecure‘s costume designer Shiona Turini, Turini mentions another reference to the sorority that appears in the show.

“Tiffany’s baby wears a ‘Future AKA’ hat which anyone who went to a black college will immediately spot,” Turini said in the interview. “For those who do not get the reference, it ushers in the opportunity for the audience to explore so much more beyond the show.”

Seales’ response 

But the backlash from AKA members about wearing the sorority’s gear and colors has only been directed to Seales only now during the show’s final run. Seales, who isn’t an AKA member in real life, took to social media to address the criticisms surrounding her character.

“Tiffany is a soror. Tiffany is a character on a tv show. I didn’t write the character, I played the character. I am not a soror. I’m an actress and I’m playing a character on a TV show,” Seales told her fans on a video posted Monday.

She jokingly added that she was “Me Phi Me” when she was in graduate school and did not partake in Greek life during undergrad.

“I would be honored to be a member of Alpha Kapp Alpha but I simply am not,” she added. “When I am Tiffany, I wear the letters with pride and regard and respect for those who did cross the burning sands.”

Rae’s response and support 

Actress and showrunner Issa Rae also came to her costar and friend’s defense. When a Twitter user tweeted at Rae that having Seales don the sorority sweatshirt is “widely disrespectful,” Rae responded “Oh sh-t. Let me @HBO to delete one of the upcoming episodes then, hold on.”

Comedienne, actress, and AKA member as well Yvette Nicole Brown also supported Seales. Brown said she had “NO problem with how hard “Tiffany” reps my beloved AKA,” in a tweet. She sympathized with Seales, mentioning that people often blur the lines between her and her well-known character on the community series, Community.

Many pointed out that HBO and the Insecure team that most likely got permission to use the sorority’s colors and likeness from the national headquarters.

“As a Greek, any paraphernalia used on television shows is approved by our headquarters,” author George M. Johnson explained.  “Only folks to be mad at is your organization heads.”

Other Insecure watchers rushed to defend Seales, pointing out that she should not be scrutinized for her character’s portrayal on a fake show or the show’s choice in using the sorority’s likeness.

AKA was founded in 1908 at Howard University. It’s the oldest Greek-letter organization established by Black women. Notable non-honorary members include Jada Pinkett-Smith, Alicia Keys, and Ava DuVernay. As of yet, the sorority has not responded to this situation. 

Watch Insecure every Sunday at 10 pm EST on HBO.

Deidre Redhead

Deidre Redhead is a junior journalism and international relations student at Stony Brook University. Her bylines include The Statesman and Mission Magazine.