To brand Issa Rae a trailblazer would not only be fair but possibly an understatement given the moves she’s made to shake up Hollywood.
Breaking down barriers in writing rooms, Rae – who also acts and produces – has been a force of nature with hit television and film efforts from HBO’s ‘Insecure’ and ‘Black Lady Sketch Show’ to Netflix’s ‘The Lovebirds’ and a number of forthcoming big screen ventures.
Yet, despite the major moves she’s made in front of and behind the camera lens, 2020 promises to be her most recognized year yet as the groundbreaking series ‘Insecure’ was nominated 8 times the forthcoming Primetime EMMYs (including a nod for ‘Best Actress in a Comedy Series’).
Taking to ‘The Hollywood Reporter (THR)’ recently, the 35-year-old dished candidly on her opportunity to make history if she wins in the category, opening doors for other Black creatives, and so much more.
Look inside for more:
ON CHANGING HOW BLACK CHARACTERS ARE VIEWED ON TV:
Traditionally, Black characters have been “focused on specific struggle stories, or we’re just side characters, or we’re just supernatural, and there was never any real in between,” she says. “That’s something Prentice [Penny, Insecure’s showrunner] and I talked about— that white people get to have scenes with them just washing their hands and thinking. We don’t get that shit.”
ON POSSIBILITY OF MAKING HISTORY AS SECOND BLACK WOMAN TO WIN ‘BEST ACTRESS: COMEDY’ EMMY:
“Awards don’t validate you,” she says. “They allow more people to know about the series, like, ‘Oh, what is this?’ That’s all you want.”
ON LONGEVITY AND SUCCESS:
“For me, my longevity will be opening the door for others. I think frequently about the Tupac quote: “I’m going to be the light that sparks the inspiration, that sparks the change.” I need to get that quote right. [Exact quote: “I’m not saying I’m going to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”]”
ON HOW THE GLOBAL HEALTH CRISIS HELPED ‘INSECURE’:
“I’m going to be real. I think the pandemic, being quarantined during a period when our humanity was questioned, in a more front-facing way, definitely helped. We came on during a time when people were bored at home, and also there were racial uprisings, and our show served as a comfort. Thank God, because to release anything else during this time — even our show — I felt a huge guilt in coming out during the protests because there were just so many more important things happening, I didn’t want to take full focus away from that.
But to hear people be like, “No, this is an escape. It brings us back to Black people being joyous and happy and ourselves” — our natural state really felt like we were meant to air during this time. I think that for sure helped people to see our show in a different light.”
ON HOW THE PANDEMIC WILL IMPACT SHOOTING ‘INSECURE’S SEASON 5:
“I don’t want to mention COVID or the pandemic in any way, shape or form. We are addressing the fact that the city is going to be different, and part of the way that we’re talking about it is putting people with masks in the background or subtle things like the business being impacted because we’re so location-specific.
We’re supposed to shoot in September, so that’s not happening. It changes every single day. It’s definitely a painful reminder that you don’t control your plans.”
Click here to see the interview in full.