All Articles Tagged "awkward black girl"
Issa Rae’s Insecure premiered yesterday on HBO (though it was made available to stream on HBO GO in advance). If you missed out on the opportunity to check the show out, you need to get on it. Seriously, it’s a gem that has great potential to develop into something really amazing over the next seven episodes. From the music to the way it’s shot and the dialogue, Insecure is an unabashed look into an underrepresented demographic on television — Black women living life in their 20s.
I was going to give you an entire slideshow detailing all of the behind-the-scenes information for the making of the new HBO series, but I thought it would be more fun to give you the deets on the genius behind it. Check out 10 things you probably didn’t know about our shero, Issa Rae.
Such a unique name right? Issa is actually short for Jo-Issa, and it’s a combination of the names of Rae’s grandmothers: Joyce and Isseu. The name Rae actually is her aunt’s name, so Issa is representing for the women in her family big time.
We’ve all seen a recent influx of Black excellence on primetime TV — and we’re not complaining. Empire, How to Get Away With Murder, and Black-ish, just to name a few, are successful shows with Black leads that are dominating the nighttime network slots. And Issa Rae, creator of Awkward Black Girl, says it’s all about the money.
Isn’t it always?
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Rae notes that viewers are increasingly seeing diversity on TV because network executives are finally realizing the profitability of Black actors and actresses on nighttime dramas:
“I think [TV executives are] like, ‘Oh we see what works and let’s replicate it,'” she told host Marc Lamont Hill. “I don’t think it’s about even blackness or diversity. It’s really about, ‘Oh my gosh there are eyeballs.’ How do we capitalize? How do we take advantage?”
Rae notes that the reason behind the new proliferation of Black leads is social media, which sparked a light bulb among network executives:
“Social media changed the game in that you’re seeing all of these tweets, you’re seeing all these trending topics from … Black people who are expressing what they want to see. Now people take notice,” she added.
Though Rae concedes to the fact that TV executives are recognizing that catering to a Black viewership is lucrative, the Awkward Black Girl creator says this “trend” might be short-lived:
“Until you have people in positions of power that have varied experiences, nothing will change,” she said. “Honestly, we’re not on their radar. They don’t know. They’re not really thinking about us. If you have people in positions of power that don’t have very many Black friends, that don’t really understand the Black experience, they’re not thinking about it and there are not enough people concerned with it.”
We can only hope that Rae’s fears of a temporary Black presence on TV are unfounded and that we will have a continuation of the Black narrative unfold right before our eyes on the tube.
YouTube star Rae has 200,000 subscribers, 20 million video views, a Shorty Award for Awkward Black Girl, and a brand new book titled The Misadventures of the Awkward Black Girl.
Since the debut of her popular web series Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae has been quite busy. Not only is she a host on new daytime TV talk show Exhale, but she’s also working on a new pilot for HBO.
“I’m writing an HBO pilot. We just turned that in, so we’re waiting on notes. And I’m always working on web series,” she tells The Huffington Post.
In addition to all of that she’s writing a book. Though she has yet to reveal specifically what the book is about, the actress/director did open up about how challenging writing a book has been.
“I’m writing a book right now — that is the bane of my existence because it is so freaking hard,” said Issa.
Though many see the widespread popularity of Awkward Black Girl and believe her success came overnight, Issa says it’s been a long time coming.
“It was a matter of good timing, but I was working towards it for awhile. In my current position, the third web series I did, [“Awkward Black Girl,”] happened to get a lot of attention but the first and the second were very slow.”
She also discusses whether or not she feels responsible for helping other women in the workplace.
“Responsibility is a strong word. I just think there should be a natural desire. I don’t feel a responsibility to, I just want to. I think that it makes [helping other women] almost undesirable if you have a sense of pressure associated with it. I just find it troubling when people try to put other women down. I don’t think that’s helpful in any way.”
As for the “glass ceiling,” Issa says she doesn’t allow it to impact her.
“I choose to ignore it. I feel like by ignoring it, it doesn’t really affect me. I’ve found that the people who acknowledge the glass ceiling feel affected by it and won’t surpass it. I feel like more women are going the route where they’re just like, “F it, I’m gonna make it happen for myself, whether you think it’s gonna happen or not.” That’s my mentality.”
Our girl is doing her thing!
Jazmine Denise is a celebrity news and entertainment blogger. Follow her on Twitter @jazminedenise.
It’s been a while since Issa Rae has been talking about bringing the insanely popular webseries “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” to television. And after meeting with several networks who didn’t understand her vision, it seems that Issa Rae has finally found a home at HBO.
Several outlets, including Awkward Black Girl’s own Instagram page are confirming that Issa Rae will be teaming up with writer, actor and television producer Larry Wilmore. You may recognize Wilmore from his regular appearances on the Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” as the “Senior Black Correspondent” and the “Senior Executive Commander-in-Chief Who Happens To Be Black Correspondent” after the election of President Obama. But before all of this he wrote and produced for hit shows like “In Living Color,” “Sister Sister,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “The Jaimie Foxx Show” and “The Bernie Mac Show” among others.
So, if Wilmore’s track record is any comfort, this should work out quite nicely. Plus Issa is going to stay on to co-write and star in the series.
This is the second show Issa’s been able to bring to television seeing that she partnered with Shonda Rhimes to bring “I Hate L.A. Dudes” to ABC.
She’s making crazy moves right now and we couldn’t be happier for her!
We love “The View” — especially Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd — but how cool would it be to see all brown faces seated around a coffee table discussing issues that matter to black women? Well that wish is about to come true as Magic Johnson’s new Aspire network is gearing up to air a new talk show based off of the hit ABC series, featuring some of our favorite ladies.
“Exhale” is the name of the new talk show, which according to Variety.com, will feature five prominent African American women in the entertainment space as co-hosts. The women are, number one, our favorite awkward black girl Issa Rae, journalist and former ESSENCE editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray, comedian Erin Jackson, author and TV anchor Rene Syler who’s appeared on “The View” as a guest host, and actress Malinda Williams. Sounds awesome already right?
It won’t be long before the show comes into fruition, as the eight-episode first run is expected to debut in June to coincide with the network’s one-year anniversary. Aspire’s General Manager Paul Butler said of the channel’s third original series.
“We are thrilled to add ‘Exhale’ to our lineup of original programming. This fresh, hip and candid new series will enlighten audiences with its broad range of topics relevant to the community.”
Can we just say “The View” is definitely going to have some serious competition, at least among black women, now? The cast sounds like the perfect mix of positive, passionate, and professional women — not to mention hilarious — we will definitely be tuning in! Will you?
Andrea Lewis, an actress and singer, best known for her role as Hazel Aden on Degrassi: The Next Generation, has teamed up with “Awkward Black Girls’” Issa Rae to create a new web series called “Black Actress” that will premiere this summer.
No stranger to digital production, Lewis has spent the last few years growing the viewership for her current Web variety show “Those Girls are Wild (TGAW)” with friend Shannon T. Boodram to more than 60,000 subscribers and 7 million views.
But she insists that while this show will have a comedic arc similar to what you’ve seen on TGAW, it will also touch on some of the very real scenarios that women of color go through in Hollywood. And with the success of Kerry Washington’s historic role as the lead in Scandal, the reignited conversation about the lack of roles available to black women in television and film provides the perfect backdrop for a show like Black Actress.
I recently caught up with Andrea Lewis to learn more about the show, her new partnership with Issa Rae, and their crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
MadameNoire (MN): You’ve achieved a good amount of success as an actress. So what made you decide to launch a production company and create this new series with Issa Rae? Why not just wait for your agent to call with your next big break?
Andrea Lewis (AL): So far, I’ve had a great career and I’m very grateful. And technically I have been waiting for my agent to call with my “big break” my whole life. But I figured that if I can take control of my career instead of waiting for the gatekeepers to [pick me] or give me permission than that’s what I’m going to do.
I’ve always wanted my own production company and look up to women such as Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore who’ve gone down a [similar path]. So starting my own [production company] was a no brainer for me at this point in my life, and teaming up with Issa just made sense because she read one script and saw a scene that was already shot was completely [on board with the idea].
I think she’s hilarious and we definitely get each other’s humor and quirkiness.
MN: So what is “Black Actress?”
AL: “Black Actress” is a “mockumentary” Web series about the struggles of pursuing an unconventional career and making your dreams a reality even if it hurts. The series follows the journey of Kori Bailey, the lead character, played by myself, and features interviews with actual well-known black actresses.
MN: Can you name some of the actresses who will make a cameo on the show?
AL: Yes! The show will feature interviews from actresses such as Tatyana Ali, Keke Palmer, Kim Coles, Tracee Ellis Ross and many more.
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Want to break into the music industry? Open a new tab in your browser and find your way to your favorite video-sharing site. Millions of people browse YouTube every day, discovering new acts through music videos and live performances. The site’s related videos section makes it the perfect tool for musicians to get their music in front of a receptive audience.
For hip hop artists, YouTube videos have become the new mixtape. The perfect fix for audiences with shrinking attention spans and an industry that favors a hot single to a good album. Savvy musicians are converting video views into new followers, ticket purchasers, and song downloaders.
If there was any doubt about video’s place in the future of the music industry, media research firm Nielsen recently reported YouTube as the number one place teens go to listen to music (64 percent). YouTube isn’t just making performers stars. The digital landscape is ripe with opportunities behind the scenes, for those strategic enough to spot them. Case in point, Simon Cowell just this week launched a YouTube audition channel, The You Generation.
Artists Catch Up With the Times
Established brands have already seen the light, and accept short-form video as the future of marketing. However, independent artists often miss out on basic parts of these marketing initiatives like brand partnerships, advertising dollars, and technical tools that boost their visibility due to a lack of knowledge.
Enter Volume Visual, the recently launched multi-channel network brainchild of digital
entrepreneurs Jabari Johnson and Benoni Tagoe. Both are YouTube veterans: Jabari for his documentary series chronicling music’s hottest rising stars and Benoni as a producer of the hit online series, Awkward Black Girl.
“One of our main goals is helping artists’ channels develop their audience,” Jabari said. “We come from YouTube backgrounds and have a lot of knowledge about the space. At the same time we have a space in L.A. that artists can come and shoot videos for free. We empower the artists with the tools to help them create the visuals on a more frequent basis and help to cut costs.”
Staying Ahead Of The Curve
Think of multi-channel networks (MCNs) as the digital era’s answer to Viacom, affiliating with multiple YouTube channels and undertaking business areas like promotion, funding, and partnerships so creatives can focus on what they do best. Rather than having a few dozen-cable networks under their umbrella, MCNs have thousands of YouTube channels.
The top MCNs rack up views that rival some cable networks, with the most successful companies targeting mainstream music, gaming, and pop culture. Hip hop culture, Volume Visual’s target, is noticeable absent from the mix. The venture highlights a clever strategy for staying ahead of the curve in the rapidly changing business of entertainment: pay attention to what’s shaping the landscape and figure out how to make what works for similar markets work for you.
The key to cementing a place in the future of entertainment industry may lie in creating your dream job, rather than applying for it. Technology is changing the landscape of countless industries. Odds are embracing those changes will help you anticipate trends before the old guard catches on.
“I always say that it’s never smart to bet against technology,” says Jabari. “Technology is not only at the forefront of this industry, but our culture. Finding ways to have technology interact with the normal human experience – that’s always going to win.”
C. Cleveland covers professional development topics and entrepreneurial rebels who blaze their own career paths. She explores these stories and more on The Red Read, Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
Ode to girls who aren’t slim, but aren’t too big either. Ode to big chops and sporting a small crown with no fear. Ode to equilibrium of woman, clumsy and sensual, awkward and beautiful.
We are real.
However, within Hollywood, the media, and other forms of the aesthetic that persuade the mind, we’re rarely seen in our averageness. I find it difficult to find myself within the fictional characters that unravel before my eyes. However, in Issa Rae’s notorious YouTube series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” I can spot my idiosyncrasies, every episode, from a mile away.
As artists and creators, we are guilty of placing pieces of ourselves within the confines our craft. I saw Issa Rae speak at the Influencer Con, this summer, and I was sure I was going to witness an entirely different woman, than the one I saw depicted within her series. This also includes, her role on Black&SexiTV’s “The Number” and her solo “RatchetPiece Theatre.” Laced in a cardigan, Converse sneakers, wooden bangles, and glasses, her simplicity stuck out to me. While she spoke about adoring instant feedback for her web series and cyber racism, I couldn’t help but see my reflection within her.
This was heightened by her story of a father who’d emailed her to tell her, that because of her show and quick come-up, his daughter was no longer ashamed of her natural hair, that she was being teased for.
She was quirky, funny, incredibly intelligent, and yes even a bit awkward. I was taken aback that her mannerisms, minus J’s Tourette-style raps and succumbing to her annoying co-workers, were awesomely similar to her character’s. I could see a correlation between J, Issa Rae, and myself as well. So, I decided to write this letter:
Dear Issa Rae and/or tidbits of J,
I don’t know if anyone has ever told you, but you reflect the predominance within us. I’m suddenly comfortable with my fro, thickness, and clumsiness when you flash across my screen. I often ran home to write rhymes and poems about boys/men who did not appreciate my swapping of third-grade PB&J. Who am I kidding? I still do that now, sans the trading of lunch.
I frequently pass the control-freak, in the hallway at work, and have daydreams of the different ways I could trip her. I’ve fantasized about the brown skin man who’s come in and simmered every on looking female’s soul (and that one gay intern), but never had the courage to truly say hello.
I imagine full out scenarios, atop the brownstone steps of Harlem, to some Rent/hip-hop inspired musicality, belting out my love for brown skin and my disdain for my own Nina-like control-freak standing across the street, with smoke blowing from her ears.
But the truth is, I haven’t stumbled over the boundaries that J has and I’m just crossing the threshold of freelancing, as you’ve done, some time ago, with screenwriting.
Is it just me, Issa Rae, or is it difficult to make it here? Even when you’re behind the scenes, aren’t you still cognizant of the onlookers/haters ready and willing to fling their opinions at your heart? If you are, it doesn’t look like it.
On or off the screen.
Your pride seems to dangle from every movement. You will not allow yourself to be confined and you’ve broken out of the boxes they’ve tried to put you in. As an evolved suburbanite, living in Brooklyn, who writes raps in secret, who ran into her car after telling her boyfriend that she liked him and spent a week avoiding him, I get your protagonist. I also get Issa Rae, an image I’ve been waiting for, a black woman who seems to fit perfectly into different circles, a chameleon to her industry.
Bereft of superficiality, your writing is the perfect hybrid of what we’re all thinking and feeling, but too self-conscious to say. We appreciate your protagonist’s embarrassments, showing us that the art of awkwardness is one that is universal and commonplace. We are not alone, those of us with or without Ceces, when it comes to stumbling through life.
That much is clear.
“RivaFlowz” is a teacher and professional writer living in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter: @rivaflowz.
Black screenwriters and directors are no longer waiting for the stars to align, prompting Hollywood to give them a big break and a chance at being the next Spike Lee or Salim Akil. Instead, they’re taking what’s theirs and gaining national attention by pooling together the resources they do have, creating their own platforms and producing the thought-provoking content that our culture currently lacks. For a long time, the idea of a web series left many rolling their eyes as they envisioned low quality video footage, bad acting and poor scripts, but the black web series has evolved and that simply isn’t the case anymore. Today, we have the privilege of choosing from an array of quality web series with amazing scripts, talented actors and actresses, and plots so engaging that they leave some of the biggest skeptics scouring the web trying to find out when the next episode is going to drop. We all know and love Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl series, but there are plenty more amazing shows floating around the web. Check out these 10 black web series that you should most certainly consider giving a try.
Why we’re saluting her:
Issae Rae is single-handedly responsible for making all of us awkward Black girls feel a lot less awkward. The producer/writer/director is the brains behind and the star of the award-winning web series, the “Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl (ABG),” and has become one of our favorite faces on the Internet.
While at Stanford, Rae produced and directed four theatrical productions, including two stage adaptations of Spike Lee films. After receiving her B.A. from the University, she went on to attend the New York Film Academy where she further developed her filmmaking skills and gave birth to ABG, which is actually her third web series.
Now, after being featured everywhere from BET, Essence, and Vibe to CNN, NBC, and The Huffington Post, Rae is gearing up to produce the upcoming sitcom, “Why I Hate LA Dudes,” working with another of our favorite black girls, Shonda Rhimes. After receiving offers from other networks who tried to convince Rae that America wouldn’t embrace a dark-skinned awkward character, she took her talent elsewhere and found a home on ABC. For her ability to broaden the spectrum of what a black girl is and keep us laughing all the while, we salute Issa Rae.