Issa Rae’s Not-so-Awkward Rise
By Jacinth Jones
Issa Rae is at the top of her game. As the lead actor of HBO’s new comedy series “Insecure,” Rae leads viewers through an infusion of hip-hop, love, friendship and relatable black experiences.
The half-hour program debuts at a time when young African Americans are flourishing and thriving in the entertainment industry with the production of Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” on FX, Cheo Hodari Coker’s “Luke Cage” on Netflix and Barry Jenkins’ feature film “Moonlight.”
Rae rose to fame through her 2011 YouTube series, “Awkward Black Girl,” and her recent book, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” Loosely based on the web series, “Insecure’ averaged 3.2 million viewers across all platforms during its first season, which is comparable to other half-hour series like “Divorce,” “Veep” and “Girls,” according to HBO.
“I wanted to show a much broader range of who we are,” said Rae, who promoted “Insecure” during an HBCU tour sponsored by HBO and Ebony Magazine. “I wanted to tap into my own experiences.”
“My core is this socially uncomfortable introverted person, and I did not get to see that depicted anywhere for black people,” she said. “White people get to be everything. I never felt secure in my own blackness, and I wanted my character to reflect that.”
As a Golden Globe nominee for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy, and with a heavily anticipated season two, Rae lives up to the definition of fierce — powerful, passionate and confident with undeniable potential.
Jacinth Jones is an independent journalist and writer in Washington, D. C.