All Articles Tagged "issa rae"

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

Instagram/ WENN

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


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 site:

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, 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/

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

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


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.

Andrea Lewis Premieres Webseries Tribute To Black Women, “Black Actress”

November 8th, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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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!

Issa Rae Is Writing A Book And Working On A New HBO Pilot!

November 6th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Issa Rae

Source: Facebook

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.

Issa Rae Set To Produce Andrea Lewis’s New Web Series ‘Black Actress’

November 1st, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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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.