Who Is Issa Rae? The 'Insecure' Star & Creator Is Finally Getting Her Due
HBO has been offering a sneak peak at its new series Insecure , from (co-)creator, writer, and star Issa Rae, and the pilot is so simple, confident, and assured, you'd think this was her fifth cable series, not first. And if you're wondering who Issa Rae is, you have a very exciting road ahead of you, because she's awesome. Fans have been waiting for years for Rae to finally get the empire she deserves... and finally, it's slowly happening. But because it's taken Rae so long to get her own HBO series, she's been working on developing her voice for years now.
One thing to note about Rae's work: while it all tackles general, relatable themes like growing up, having no idea what to do in your career, and dating total jerks, it's all from the very specific perspective of being a black girl. More specifically, it's about being an Awkward Black Girl (don't worry, that will make sense later). If you are an ABG, congrats — you've probably been obsessed with Rae for years (and if not, you're in for a real pleasant surprise). But even if you're not a black woman, please, check out some of Rae's work. As you'll see below, she's a great artist, and there's so much to appreciate about her comedy.
It All Started With The Misadventures Of Awkward Black Girl
Until Insecure, Rae's biggest claim to fame was her amazing web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl , which was about a girl, played by Rae, navigating her early 20s. The series premiered in 2011, and in only 25 episodes, managed to work in commentary about just about every aspect of contemporary black womanhood — with a whole bunch of awkwardness. Dating white guys, dealing with a hostile boss, and the joy of escapism with friends are just a few of the show's best qualities.
And The ABG Brand Exploded
After the success of the web series, Rae expanded the Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl universe to include a book of the same name released in early 2015. In it, Rae demonstrated why she has such a strong creative voice. The collection of essays gives an insight into how her experiences and many of them are similar to the ones J goes through on the show.
She's Breaking A Major Barrier
According to Vulture, Rae is the very first black woman to create a half-hour comedy series for a cable network. I echo Rae's thoughts on that statistic: "That's sad!"
She's Super Thoughtful & Smart
One of the best things about Rae's ascent to fame over the last five years is that she's gotten the chance to share so many of her thoughts in interviews. She's a fantastic podcast guest (check out her interview on Another Round ), she's comfortable on the late-night couch (especially with her co-EP on Insecure, Larry Wilmore), and she even gave an interview to Bustle a few years ago.
She Has A Lot More Coming
According to Deadline, Rae signed a first-look deal with HBO in Summer 2016, meaning that she'll be producing content for the network that specifically seeks to "focus on diverse voices." So she's paying forward her success and using it to make network television a little less monochromatic in the process? Awesome.
Insecure Has Been A Long Time In The Making
After the success of the web series, it was a no-brainer to assume a cable network would want to work on a project with Rae. And one did — HBO signed a deal with Issa Rae in 2013. Since then, fans have struggled to remain patient as news about the series slowly trickled out over the past three years. Finally, the product of all of those years of hard work is here, and Rae should finally get the platform she deserves.
Images: John P. Fleenor, Anne Marie Fox/HBO (2); Giphy