Issa Rae | How did this Senegalese-American actress become so famous?


By Bre Williams | Cheat Sheet

Senegalese-America Issa Rae has taken Hollywood by storm over the past few years. After receiving much success with her HBO series Insecure, Issa Rae has become one of Hollywood’s most sought after producer, writer, director and actor.

With all of the success Rae has received, many are probably wondering how she got her start?


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She started out on YouTube

Like many other stars of today, Issa Rae got her start on Youtube producing, directing, and starring in her own web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.

The series followed a woman who must navigate the struggles of day-to-day awkwardness she constantly comes across.

Issa Rae “The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl” | YouTube

The series only had a few episodes and was just something Issa Rae used to express her creativity and something she did whenever she had a little free time.

Since it’s release in 2011, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl quickly became a fan favorite making the series instantly go viral.

Without knowing how much of an overnight sensation this series would turn into, Issa Rae and her co-producer Tracy Oliver realized they had created something special and decided to raise money in order to keep the series going.



Through Kickstarter, they were able to raise more than $50,000 and went on to release the remainer of season one on Rae’s YouTube channel.

In 2013, Issa Rae partnered with Pharrell Williams and premiered season two of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl on his YouTube channel, IamOTHER.

With all of the success Rae was receiving from her web series, she began creating other projects that starred and shined positive lights on people of color.

“Insecure” was her breakout series

Later that year, Issa Rae began working on a comedy series that would focus around the awkward experiences of a contemporary African-American woman.


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The show would be called, Insecure, and after working alongside writer and producer, Larry Wilmore, the show was eventually picked up by HBO.

In 2016, HBO ran the first season of Insecure and the series received critical acclaim for its relatable and hilarious concepts.

Rae has been open about her journey to landing her deal with HBO and even revealed how she was sure her series would get picked up eventually.

“In my eager-to-please, “this is my only chance” mindset, I wasn’t as firm as I should have been [in developing the story]. I wanted to tell a story about dating in L.A. I like to be raw, I like to curse, I like the N-word, I like portraying sex, and I like portraying the discomfort of stuff. I think that’s not really fit for network television. And because I wasn’t secure in the story, it was easy for me to flip-flop [on what I wanted]. And that’s not how you tell a story. When ABC ended up passing on the project, I was devastated, but I understood why. It was on me at the end of the day.”

Issa Rae on Insecure | HBO

She contined, “I thought that was my last chance. But then Casey Bloys and Amy Gravitt from HBO called the next month, and they were like, “Hey, we heard you’re free now. Do you have any other ideas that you want to explore?”

Since the premiere of Insecure, Issa Rae has received two Golden Globe Nominations for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy as well as a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.


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Not only is Issa Rae a writer, producer, director, and web series creator, but she is also one of Hollywood’s most sought after actresses.

Along with starring in her own creations, Issa Rae has acted in many other television shows and movies.

Her most notable roles have been April Ofrah in the 2018 film The Hate U Give and April in the 2019 film Little.

She started her own mentorship program

When it comes to creating original content, Issa Rae is a woman who knows what she is doing.

Since the beginning of her career, Issa Rae has been considered a game changer and is a magnet for undiscovered talent.

In 2018, Rae signed a deal with Columbia Pictures to promote emerging, diverse writers.


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Issa Rae’s productions company, ColorCreative, will partner with Colombia Pictures as a mentorship program.

The program will select participants to work with Rae and the studio to develop and write features based on their original ideas.

Issa Rae wants to help those with creative ideas to get a chance to showcase their talents.

Working with Bryan Smiley and Columbia Pictures to further the mission ColorCreative set out to achieve four years ago in creating access for underrepresented writers, has been a dream come true,” said Rae.

“All of the projects we are working on are fresh and promising and we can’t wait to continue the work. We hope to set a precedent and inspire the industry at large to invest in undiscovered talent, original IP, and fresh stories and perspectives.”   

Read from source Cheatsheet

This article was published on February 17, 2019

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