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

February 18, 2015  |  

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.

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