Issa Rae On Her New Semiautobiographical HBO Comedy Insecure: “This Is Not The Quintessential Black Woman Experience”
Actress/comedian Issa Rae is already talking about the new show from her just-inked deal with HBO. The show will be called Insecure and Rae warns “I want to make this very clear. This is not the quintessential Black-woman experience. It’s a very specific experience,” she told Time magazine Rae, who rose to national fame through her popular web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and the accompanying memoir, created and stars in the new semiautobiographical HBO comedy.
So often Black creatives are expected to represent the whole Black American experience, but Rae says her new creation is “based in large part on conversations between Rae and her real-life friends.” Insecure premieres Oct. 9 and centers around Rae’s character, also called Issa. Issa, who has ”sharp wit” but is directionless when it comes to her career and her relationship with her boyfriend (played by Jay Ellis), works at a nonprofit for inner-city kids. On the job she is frustrated and tired of the way her white co-workers “treat her with a mix of condescension and curiosity.”
Riding on the interest of Awkward Black Girl, Rae became a media darling and landed a pilot I Hate L.A. Dudes, which she worked on with mega creator Shonda Rhimes for ABC. But in the end the pilot wasn’t picked up. “During that process, I was eager to please and kind of lost my own voice. I wasn’t cemented in my voice in the same way,” said Rae, who admitted to still feeling “insecure about my own place in Hollywood.”
Now she’s hoping Insecure will find an audience that will “understand its South L.A., hip hop-inflected milieu not often seen on TV.”
She added, “I didn’t think, ‘This is an issue plaguing the community that I want to address,’ any more than anybody else did. What’s refreshing about this time is that because there are so many other shows with creators of color, the onus isn’t just on us. That’s a great thing.”
Despite the rollercoaster ride that is Hollywood, Rae said she’s hanging on tight–and is not ready to go back to a traditional workplace. “I’m still, to a degree, scarred by the stuff I hated about working a 9-to-5. Any time I feel like getting lazy or procrastinating in my current situation, I always think back to that. B-tch, do you want to still be at that 9-to-5? And I act right.”