Issa Rae’s Insecure is a beloved series amongst Black millenials due to its precise depiction of our trials and tribulations. Having a cast that looks like us is something that was crucial for Rae, but in her earlier days executives made her feel like that wasn’t an ingredient for the recipe for success.
Insecure didn’t always have an all-Black cast and neither did her first series, Awkward Black Girl. This was because someone persuaded Rae to believe that white people had to be casted in order for it to be a hit.
“From the jump in creating the show, it was put in my mind that you had to have a white character to be a bridge, and for people to care, for it to get awards, for it to be considered worthy of the television canon,” she told Mic.
Rae said that the person said: “Girl, if you want this s*** to set off to the next level, you got to put a white character in there, then white people will care about it, then NPR is going to write about your s***and it’ll blow up. And then it literally happened.”
She took the advice and added love interest “White Jay” and Frieda. But when Frieda’s character, played by Lisa Joyce, was becoming more of a mainstay and bigger talks about her character began amongst the creative team, Rae pumped the brakes.
“And I was like, F*** no! This is not a show about Freida!” Rae said. “That was when I started actively resisting. When Issa quit work and we got rid of the We Got Y’all storyline, I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, our show is just about Black characters now in the most refreshing way.’”
Now Insecure is about to embark on their farewell fifth season with the all-Black cast that she envisioned and she wants the same for other creators who have the same vision.
“I want to be able to circumvent all that bulls*** when an executive’s telling you, ‘This won’t sell,’ or, ‘If this is a Black story about a family, it has to have trauma,’” she added. “I hope that not having to think of an audience that isn’t us — and being okay with that— is passed on. I want people to know we are enough.”