All Articles Tagged "issa rae"

Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes And More Cover Essence’s Game Changers Issue

April 14th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Apparently, white is the color of the season—at least if you’re judging by the May cover of Essence it is. Hollywood’s movers and shakers Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes, Mara Brock Akil, Issa Rae and Debbie Allen all appear on the magazine’s Game Changers issue rocking winter white ensembles. Inside, they dish on sexuality and diversity in television and film.

Shonda Rhimes on why women of color making waves in Hollywood is not a trend:

“It’s an economic fact. There are more people of color than ever before…When the shows start doing bigger numbers than what they think are going to be their top ten shows, it becomes really hard to suggest that it’s a trend.”

Ava DuVernay on the need for more diversity behind the camera:

“Of course that has to happen […] but it is more about people working autonomously, independently, to create their own structures, mechanisms, companies, outlets. Look at you, Issa—nobody was giving you anything, so you created your own work and your own platform and your own way to distribute.”

Debbie Allen on seeing progress and hope in regard to diversity in Hollywood:

“I look at it as an opportunity. It is wide open and for the taking. When I first started, there were no women in the room, there were no Black people in the room.”

Mara Brock Akil on showcasing Black women’s sex lives:

“I’ve been relentless [about discussing sexuality] since Girlfriends… My feeling about sexuality and showing a consenting adult having sex is that it’s so empowering “Because if you are making the choice, you then have to be responsible for the choice. I think that message is conveyed to the audience. You’re not just there for the convenience of a man, you are there because you want it. It creates an opportunity—well, hopefully—for the young lady watching or the other women watching to understand you have a say in this.”

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“We’re Not On Their Radar”: Issa Rae Says Black Inclusion On TV Is “Money-Driven”

February 18th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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We’ve all seen a recent influx of Black excellence on primetime TV — and we’re not complaining. EmpireHow to Get Away With Murder, and Black-ishjust 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.

A New Series By Issa Rae Will Debut On HBO

February 7th, 2015 - By Courtney Whitaker
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via Twitter

via Twitter

Issa Rae may be an awkward girl but nothing about her business moves are awkward.

According to Deadline, the filmmaker is working on a new project titled Insecure with HBO. The project will focus on the experiences of an African American woman in today’s day and age. The series was originally set to premiere in 2013. However, it never came to light.

Now, Issa is set to bring it back with Larry Wilmore. Wilmore co-created and wrote the project with Issa. As of right now, no debut date has been released but Deadline is reporting it will be a part of HBO’s 2015 comedy pilot slate.

Congratulations to Issa! We hope Insecure receives a green light confirmation.

HBO Greenlights Issa Rae And Larry Wilmore New Pilot, “Insecure”

February 5th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Issa Rae And Larry Wilmore

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Variety reports that HBO has greenlit the pilot for the comedy show, Insecure, that will star Issa Rae. It will be based on the awkward experiences African Americans encounter every day including race relations and relationships.

Initially the show was in development in 2013 but Larry Wilmore who will serve as the show’s executive producer landed The Nightly Show on Comedy Central. Rae, who became a YouTube sensation with her hit webseries “Awkward Black Girl” will also serve as the co-executive producer of Insecure.

Both Wilmore and Rae wrote the pilot for Insecure.

Congratulations to Larry and Issa! We’re excited to see when the pilot premieres!

Issa Rae Set To Premiere Three TV Pilots At 2014 Urbanworld Film Festival

September 11th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Issa Rae Set To Premiere Three TV Pilots

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Shonda Rhimes is Issa Rae’s mentor, the creator of the hit “Awkward Black Girl” web series. Therefore it is only right for Rae to be tackling TV with gusto. She will be premiering three television pilots produced by her company ColorCreative.Tv at the 2014 Urbanworld Film Festival.

BET reports, the pilots are independently produced and half-hour comedy series. Here is a description of Rae’s pilots via her ColorCreative.tv site:

Bleach
A dark comedy following the odd couple relationship of a depressed carpet cleaner who’s forced to do clean up jobs for a no-nonsense hitman. Written by Shawn Boxe and directed by Victoria Mahoney.

Words With Girls
A lesbian relationship comedy centered on a group of 20-something, fast-talking, attitude-having LA transplants. Written by Brittani Nichols and directed by Tessa Blake.

So Jaded
A quirky buddy comedy about two best pals navigating love, life and medical marijuana in urban Los Angeles. Written by Syreeta Singleton and directed by Daven Baptiste.

Besides launching ColorCreative.tv, Rae is in the process of developing a network television show with her mentor Rhimes.

Congratulations Issa!

Who Was Your “First?” New Issa Rae Webseries Takes A Modern Spin On “Love Jones”

April 2nd, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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New Issa Rae Webseries

Issa Rae

Spring is here and love is in the air — all thanks to a new Issa Rae webseries!

Rae who kept us locked into “The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl” is debuting a new webseries called “First.” Dubbed the modern-day Love Jones with a leading man just as cute as Larenz Tate, the series will revolve around a couple who were childhood love interests.

The leading characters, Robin and Charles, fall back in love as adults but “First” allow viewers to see how things are not as simple as a childhood love affair. According to Cultured Starved, the webseries was created by Jahmela Biggs. Biggs has previously worked on the NBC series “Whitney” and Magic Johnson’s Network ASPiRE’s “Cocoa Love.” Co-staring along with Biggs is newcomer Will Catlett.

Below is the trailer and a clip from the first episode of “First!” It debuts, tonight on the Issa Rae Channel. Will you tune in?

[UPDATE] Click the next page to see the premiere of “First!”

Year Of The Young African-American Woman? Black Women Dominate Forbes’ ’30 Under 30 List’

January 15th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Issa Rae via Twitter. Quvenzhane Wallis on the set of 'Annie.' via TNYF/WENN.com

Issa Rae via Twitter. Quvenzhane Wallis on the set of ‘Annie.’ via TNYF/WENN.com

Forbes magazine’s annual ‘30 Under 30‘ list recognizes 30 people under the age of 30 in 15 different fields–from business and  technology to entertainment, education and sports. This year, an incredible 14 African-American women made the list.

Issae Rae, the 28-year-old creator of the hit YouTube comedy series on “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl” made the list. As did 10-year-old Oscar-nominated actress Quevenzhane Wallis, who is starring in the upcoming musical of Annie, and innovative singer Janelle Monae, 28. WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is openly gay, of the Phoenix Mercury was named as well, along with pop star Rihanna, 25. (There are also a number of black men on the list, including Fruitvale Station star and director  Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler, 26 and 27 years old respectively.)

The list not only includes celebrities, but other women who have made their mark in their industries, such as Katrina Craigwell, 28, the Global manager of digital marketing for General Electric; 26-year-old Lauren Wilson, who as policy counsel for Free Press fights major broadcast mergers; LaToya Peterson, 29, owner and editor of Racialicous, an online media outlet that covers race, politics and culture; and Jessica Matthews, 25,  CEO of Uncharted Play, who we profiled.

Haven’t heard of Uzoamaka Maduka, founder and editor in chief of literary magazine The American ReaderForbes has and they picked the 25-year-old for the list.  Mandela Shumacher-Hodge, the director of Startup Weekend Education also appears on the list, as does Jessica Holsey, who is the 29-year old co-founder of Sutsy Party, which makes eco-friendly, compostable tableware.

Don’t think black women are making strides in tech? Well, Aminatou Sow, the 28-year-old co-founder of Tech LadyMafia, is proving disbelievers wrong and Forbes recognized her. Tech LadyMafia is a group for women in tech to bond and support one another.

[h/t The Grio]

Winning! Entertainers We’ll See A Lot More Of In 2014

January 2nd, 2014 - By Iva Anthony
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In 2013, Robin Thicke Blurred the Lines, “Scandal” and “Orange is the New Black” were the shows to watch and Miley Cyrus killed off her Disney Hannah Montana image and twerked her way across America. So who will steal our attention in 2014? Here are our predictions for entertainers to watch out for in 2014.

Entertainers To Watch Out For In 2014

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Tika Sumpter

Before 2013, actress Tika Sumpter had a couple of movie roles and television credits under her belt. Best known as Layla Williamson in the soap opera “One Live To Live” and for her recurring role on “Gossip Girl,” the Queens native landed the lead in the most watched show on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network: Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots.” The show earned the highest ratings on OWN and was renewed for a second season midway through the first. Expect to see Sumpter continue her reign in 2014 with the hit show as well as starring in BET’s “Being Mary Jane,” alongside Gabrielle Union. Flexing her comedic chops, Sumpter will also appear in “Ride Along” with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, which hits theaters at the top of the year.

Natural Hair, Don’t Care! 12 Successful Women Who Have “Made It” With Their ‘Fros & Locs

December 4th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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vanessa vandyke afroThere’s an underlying myth plaguing the African-American community that wearing one’s natural tresses is an impediment to success. In the case of Vanessa VanDyke, a 12-year-old girl threatened to be expelled due to her voluminous mane, many people deemed her natural hair to be “unprofessional.” But is the issue much deeper than this?

For centuries, the unique characteristics of Black women have been undermined by Eurocentric standards of beauty and we’ve all been wired to believe that somehow our hair — in its purest, natural state — affects our skills, abilities, and competence in the workplace. Check out some of the ladies who challenged these erroneous notions and grabbed success by the horns — coils, kinks, curls and all.

‘Black Actress’ Adds Comic Relief To The Serious Discussion Of Black Women In Hollywood

November 10th, 2013 - By Sakita Holley
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Earlier this year, when Andrea Lewis announced that she had partnered with Issa Rae to launch the Black Actress web series, Andrea talked about how the show would be a much needed dose of comic relief surrounding the very real things women of color go through in Hollywood. A conversation that is still picking up steam in the wake of the recent controversy at SNL and the response to the “WhiteGirlsRock” hashtag that trended during the Black Girls Rock telecast.

Now that Black Actress is finally here, I reached out to Andrea again to get her thoughts on how the series contributes to the discussion, what viewers can expect from season one and which celebrities we’ll see over the course of the season’s seven episodes.

MadameNoire (MN): Now that Black Actress is here, what can viewers expect?
Andrea Lewis (Lewis): Viewers can expect a funny relatable story that will give them a little more insight into what it’s like as an actress and a ton of cameos from industry pros telling you about their story.

MN: Speaking of industry pros, can you share who some of these special guests will be?
Lewis: There are a lot of cameos in the show and I was so happy about that because everyone was so supportive of the show. Some of the faces you’ll see are Grammy winner Melanie Fiona, singer and actor Tristan ‘Mack’ Wilds, Sports Illustrated model Damaris Lewis, actress Naturi Naughton and more!

MN: The dialogue about the lack of roles/opportunities/presence of Black women in television and film is heating up. Do you feel that the work you’ve done on Black Actress contributes to the conversation? In what way?
Lewis: Yes. I think Black Actress does contribute to the conversation because it will hopefully help people become more open to the idea of seeing women of color on screen.

I had the chance to employ a lot of women of color in order to make this series happen. And I think that’s what we need, more people doing and creating projects that help make a change because that’s the only way we’ll start to see more of ourselves on screen.