All Articles Tagged "issa rae"
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.
Earlier this year, Degrassi’s Andrea Lewis announced 2013 will be the year where not only will you know her name (again) but most importantly the work she produces. Thus her new web series, Black Actress, was born. The series takes the bull by the horns, revealing how black actresses try to perfect their craft in an industry that suffocates them. Produced by Lewis, Issa Rae and Tatyana Ali, Black Actress addresses black women walking the thin line of supporting their fellow “sistas” while remaining competitive.
Prior to the web series premiere, veteran actress Viola Davis shared with Oprah during OWN’s Next Chapter:
“We’re in crisis mode as black actresses. Not in the sheer number of roles that are offered, but in the quality of roles. When you only have two or three categories for black actresses, it’s a natural instinct. If you throw a piece of cheese into a room full of rats, they’re going to claw at each other.”
The first episode of Black Actress opens up with our childhood friend (in our head) Ali. Famously known for her role on The Fresh Prince as Ashley Banks, Ali shares how acting brought her out of a rut while attending Harvard University. As Ali unfolds her personal story, viewers are introduced to Kori Bailey, played by Lewis – a black actress trying to navigate her way back into an industry where she used to be the “it” girl. Viewers follow Bailey throughout her numerous auditions and even catch her during a bathroom pep talk running down a laundry list of why she will and can book every audition. Though some may not relate to her need to constantly repeat mantras of positive affirmations, the scenes from Black Actress left me feeling nostalgic.
I reminisced on weekends during my last year of junior high school, filled with auditions for performing arts high schools in New York City. My prospective concentration in high school would have been and eventually became vocal music. I spent endless hours rehearsing the song Edelweiss from The Sound Of Music only for my 13-year-old self to feel mildly insecure. Masses of pre-teen black vocalists usually showed up and out at auditions with “His Eyes Are On The Sparrow” or their Grand Concourse rendition of Alicia Keys “Fallin.” Just like Kori in Black Actress, I understand it is hard to comprehend if you will be chosen for a role when the time slot of your audition is saturated with sameness . The arts world will trip you up as you create your niche. The messages you receive from directors, whether it be drama, music or fine arts, often become blurred and you often wonder if the difference or the norm will set you a part.
Lewis’ webseries offers viewers an uncomfortable piece of honesty by shedding light on how uninterested people are about you during auditions. Or if they are interested, they too, become actors to throw you off your A-game. Like life, the demos you showcase for, will teach how to hone every moment as though you represent the final product you desire. Black Actress prepares its viewers for roles of a lifetime.
Watch the premiere of Black Actress below!
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.
From Black Voices
Our favorite ‘Awkward Black Girl’ Issa Rae is on a roll dishing out project after project. Not only is she working on an HBO series, and starring in a few webseries, she’s also producing and curating content on her YouTube channel.
The latest project she’s behind is entitled “Black Actress,” and falls right in line with an issue that hits close to home for African-American actresses and creatives trying to make it in Hollywood. The webseries, created, written by and starring actress Andrea Lewis, features cameos and commentary from the likes of Tatyana Ali, Naturi Naughton, Essence Atkins, and Jenifer Lewis.
“My channel started off with ‘Awkward Black Girl’ but I always wanted to be a curator of great content, so when I saw “Black Actress” it was just like ‘wow this story is hilarious.’ I know so many women that have gone through this as an actress,” said Rae.
The mockumentary style series centers around “Kori Bailey,” played by Lewis, as she”struggles with the pursuit of getting her big break.”
You may recognize Andrea Lewis from her role as “Hazel” on the hit show “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Since then, Lewis has appeared in guest and recurring roles on the Syfy network and CTV and is set to appear in BET’s upcoming TV movie “A Very Larry Christmas.”
“I grew up in the acting industry and I’d yet to have an experience on a set where I didn’t feel like ‘the black girl’ whether it was the way a script was written or how the cast/producers/director interacted with me,” Lewis said in an email to The Huffington Post.
Read more at BlackVoices.com
Anyone who knows me personally knows that Orange is the New Black gives me a great amount of life, and I’m waiting very impatiently for season two. So when I heard about a parody of it done by the folks of Black & S*xy TV, I knew to expect something provocative and entertaining. Oh, and don’t forget very funny, which is what the spoof is.
The parody, Orange is the New Black & S*xy, stars actress Jessa Zarubica as Piper, and Issa Rae as the always colorful Taystee. In it, Piper comes to prison, and though she’s embraced by her fellow white female inmates, she becomes more enchanted with the black clique. By the end of the clip, she has a full Miley Cyrus makeover, has her inmate friends twerking, is trying to get her hands on some pig feet, and basically has a ball misappropriating black culture behind bars. The parody is a Dayna Lynne North/Loud Sista Production that was co-directed by Dennis Dortch and the uber-talented Numa Perrier. Check it our for yourself below and let us know what you think!
If you ask older men and women, too many people today name their children things that don’t mean anything, and can barely be pronounced, but that’s not necessarily always true. Some names are variations on classic names with meaning (i.e., Shaquille is a variation of the Arabic name Shakil, which means “handsome”), and some people’s whose name just sounds cool can tell you its origins are more about God and promises for success from their parents, rather than just a catchy moniker. Here are a few famous folks whose names are more than they seem (and yes, you’ll find many of the names to be African).
I know what you’re thinking, Sanaa must mean gorgeous, because this actress is definitely a looker. But no, the name Sanaa is both of Swahili and of Arabic background. In Swahili, it means “brilliance,” and in Arabic it means “art.”
2013 has been an interesting year for Black Twitter, an online of Black Twitter users. Not only was it given its own Wikipedia page, but Awkward Black Girl creator, Issa Rae, has gone ahead and created skit about what a Black Twitter Party would look like in real life.
The hilarious video titled, Black Twitter Party, features some of the major (and most annoying) personalities that you would encounter while navigating the cyber community. First we meet the boring girl, who tweets uninteresting and meaningless things like, “I love rainbows #colorful,” and wonders why she can’t retain followers. Next we meet the ever so annoying thirsty guy, who trolls around Twitter willing to sell his soul for followers.
Then of course, there’s the outspoken intellectual with the cult following aka the amen corner and the infamous K.K.K. trolls. The video also hilariously depicts the wannabe Twitter comedian with the #youknowyou’reblackwhen jokes, the attention wh*re and of course, the pro baller. Last but not least, there’s the too cool for school hipster chick who thinks she’s seen, done and heard it all.
Turn the page to watch what happens when these personalities collide.
A month ago we reported on Issa Rae producing a new web series called “The Choir” and in the latest episode, Issa debuted a new song she created called, “Christ WALK”.
The song is a parody of rappers who find the Lord after committing heinous crimes. Although it will make you chuckle or at least crack a smile, some Christians did not appreciate Issa Rae taking Jesus and his living word so lightly. Some of the YouTube commentators stated:
Andrew Freed II – They spit in Jesus face 2013 years ago, and 2013 years later they haven’t let up. Surprised?
Nia Johnson – Though this is quite disrespectful. Christian rap artist are nothing like this. Though this is for entertainment, could’ve been different .
Tim Verduin – God doesn’t care a/b irreverent satires? Are you sure? “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 #truth #Bible #readwhatitsays
Other commentators argued Issa’s song is a form of spiritual warfare, ignoring the fact that the song was satirical and shed light on rappers who have lived crime -ridden lives only to find themselves praising God at award shows or as they are dropping suspect bars. If anything, it depicted how people try to find balance between their personal and spiritual lives — only to appear hypocritical at times — or simply comical.
Check out the video below to hear “Christ WALK.” Do you think Issa Rae is being offensive with the way she portrays Christianity?
Though her walls are mostly empty, showing she’s a fresh face in the Simon & Schuster building, her credentials certainly prove she’s not new to the industry. It all started with one plane ride over 20 years ago when Dawn Davis sat next to a publisher who needed an assistant. Now, she’s sitting at her mahogany desk excited about the possibilities of her new position as vice president and publisher of 37 INK.
37 INK is the newest imprint under The Atria Publishing Group (a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster), dedicated to bringing good books to hungry readers. The imprint will publish 10 titles a year from a variety of genres including literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, history, memoir and pop culture. “37 INK will publish authors from a diverse array of cultures and viewpoints,” says Davis. “Our intent and commitment is to discover new talent, nourish authors, and affirm reading as a source of both entertainment and knowledge while supporting our authors with Atria’s world-class marketing and publicity.”
The first book from the imprint is The Butler, a companion guide to the movie starring Forrest Whitaker, Oprah, and Robin Williams. Written by journalist Wil Haygood and already a New York Times bestseller, The Butler goes in-depth about Haygood’s journey to find Eugene Allen, a man who served eight presidential terms as the White House butler. His article, “A Butler Well Served by This Election,” was published in the Washington Post on November 7, 2008 and was the inspiration behind the movie.
Davis drew inspiration for 37 INK from the 37th parallel north that runs across California, Africa, and Italy, all playing a geographic significance in her life. “Italy is where my grandmother came from. Africa is where we’re all from. And California is where I’m from,” Davis said. “There’s so much fluidity in the world. We should read across all cultures; we’re all a hybrid.”
Next 37 INK will publish the e-book to 12 Years a Slave, a memoir about Solomon Northup, a free man from the north who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film adaptation will star Chiwetel Ejiofor, Quvenzhané Wallis, Alfre Woodard, and Brad Pitt. Already receiving Oscar buzz, the film will open in the States at the end of this year.
“I want to publish good books that the average, busy person can lose themselves in,” said Davis. “I want to publish literary books in a commercial way.”
37 INK aims to bring new voices to the floor, but Davis feels that’s also the goal of every publisher. So in addition to introducing new authors, Davis wants to go after some of her own ideas.
“Either it’s a literary trend, or you find someone that has a voice and a point of view. I like to work in both ways. If [someone has a platform] that fits the format of the book I’d like to collaborate,” she said. For example, Davis recently acquired a book of hilarious essays by “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” creator Issa Rae. Rae’s web series has a huge fan following with over 20 million views.
The end goal, however, is to create literary books that are inspirational and soul-stirring. “I like to find things that are unexpectedly moving, like The Butler. He’s kind of an every man who shows up and makes in difference in his own small way,” said Davis. “Inner gems that speak a broader truth.”
Ebony LaDelle works in marketing at Simon & Schuster, specializing in the education & library space, as well as an advocate of literature of color. You can connect with her on Linkedin (http://www.linkedin.com/in/ebonyladelle).
Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy and definitely doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a special someone to realize that they aren’t cut out for the ordinary nine-to-five. And some people realize it early in.
In recent years, entrepreneurship has skyrocketed. Let’s meet some entrepreneurs under the age of 30, who have threw up the peace sign to the nine to five and are already making their marks in the business world.