From YouTube to the New York Times best-seller list and now the big screen, Issa Rae is the first black woman to be the lead on an HBO show. Insecure, created and executive produced by Rae, made its long-awaited debut on Friday, October 9th.
The 31 year-old Los Angeles based comedian created and starred in a web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, that began in 2011 and drew in over 700,000 viewers. In 2012, the web series received the Shorty Award for Best Web Show.
Since then, Rae has started a production company and released a New York Times best-selling memoir, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, that was published in 2015. Issa’s web content has garnered more than 25 million views and over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube.
In addition to making the Forbes 30 under 30 list twice, she has worked on content with Pharrell Williams, Ava DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes and Tracey Edmonds.
Insecure, created by Rae and Larry Wilmore, is a comedy series that explores the female black experience in a way that has never been done before. Black women in television are often portrayed as confident, strong and flawless.
“I want to make this very clear. This is not the quintessential black-woman experience, it’s a very specific type of experience” says Rae in an interview with Time Magazine.
Rae’s character, also named Issa, is every thing but that. Issa is a funny, awkward black woman, who is navigating a mediocre job at a youth nonprofit and trying to find her way in an unsatisfying relationship with longtime boyfriend Lawrence (Jay Ellis). Molly (Yvonne Orji), Issa’s best friend, is an incredibly successful lawyer who struggles with finding the right guy and is constantly searching for external ways to fix her life.
Black female friendship is one of the central themes in Insecure. These two best friends must face their own realities as they attempt to navigate different worlds and deal with an endless series uncomfortable experiences. Issa expressed the importance of representation for black female friendships.
“It’s so important to show that black women do have friends” Rae tells Vanity Fair. “We’re not all just fighting and punching each other and cursing each other out and ending up on the Shade Room together”.
Aside from the relatable themes in Insecure, Rae makes it clear that she is not trying to tell every black woman’s story. But instead her goal is to tell a good, close-ended story that has not been told before.
Insecure airs on Sundays at 10:30pm ET. If you want to know more about Issa Rae and Insecure, visit http://www.issarae.com/