HBO News Blog

Who is Issa Rae?

By Ellie Wilkin-Smith on Oct 1, 2016 to Insecure

Premiering on HBO next week (the 9th) is Issa Rae’s new comedy Insecure, which focuses on the experiences of a young, black woman in an authentic and uncliched way. The basis for her show is familiar to the generation in which it is targeting and follows Issa as she tries to figure out her purpose in life. The show also deals with cultural and racial issues that are prevalent in contemporary black culture. While comparisons will be drawn between Lean Dunham’s hit HBO show Girls, which also follows disillusioned and confused young women trying to find their fit in life, it has become known that Insecure will address the issues in a different and refreshing way, with a rawness that will be reminiscent of early Girls, but an entity unto its own.

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So where has Issa Rae come from I hear you ask?

tumblr_inline_nhex45cm8m1qmv55nRae started off her career on YouTube back in 2011 when she created a web series entitled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl which was born out of the notion that no one was representing black, female nerds on television. The two seasons follow the character of J and her misadventures through life. The first season focuses on a love triangle between her and two others and the second one sees her fighting to get a job. The wed show was praised for its realistic representation of African-American women and its witty, smart humor. Her series has over 20 million views on YouTube and she has over 200,000 subscribers so that just goes to show you.

Issa Rae grew up in Maryland, in a town with a low population of Black people. She took part in street hockey and swimming while at school and claims that when she moved to Los Angeles in the sixth grade she was berated for acting too White at her predominantly Black high school. She became confused about the stereotype she was supposed to be fulfilling and the whole of 6th  grade became an awkward and uncomfortable time for her.d64c9ed9a4b6d526ccf1223444eb3175

Rae graduated from Stanford University in 2007 and spent the subsequent four years doing odd jobs and considered going to either Business school or Law school. She dropped both ideas when her web series started garnering a lot of attention and focused herself entirely on that. During her stay at Stanford, she spent her free time writing plays and making music videos. She also made her own reality series called “Dorm Diaries” with her friend Tracey Oliver who she met while taking classes at the New York Film Academy together.

Issa Rae has won a Shorty award for her web series, the second seasom of which was aired on Pharell’s YouTube channel iamOTHER. Since the success of Awkward Black Girl, Rae has made other webseries on her channel, all focusing on representing Black, female women authentically and being a voice for those women who are misrepresented in mainstream media.

Insecure is due to air on HBO on the October  9 at 10:30pm. Issa Rae seems like she is most certainly one to watch. Will you?

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