Insecure’s Issa Rae on Giving People Opportunities They Wouldn’t Normally Have

Issa Rae explains how she’s using her hit HBO show to open doors for new artists

Ishani Nath
Issa Rae on wearing a burgundy sweater and smiling at the camera in HBO's Insecure Season 3

(Photo: Bell Media)

If you’re ever in need of a little inspo for how to use your work to change the world, look no further than Issa Rae.

The YouTube star turned powerhouse creator of HBO’s Insecure—which recently won a freaking Peabody Award—is an absolute star, not only for the LOL-worthy storylines she puts on screen, but also for the opportunities she creates for people behind the scenes.

“I think Insecure is groundbreaking in that sense of just giving people opportunities that they wouldn’t normally have,” Rae said at a recent American Express Canada event in Toronto, citing a contest she held to give musicians the chance to get their music on the Insecure Season 3 soundtrack. She continued on to explain that she actively works to use Insecure as a platform to uplift unknown musicians, actors and directors: “That is so important to me and that’s something that I stay true to in my own life.”

At a time when more than 85% of writers’ rooms are white, the fact that Insecure‘s own room is nearly all women of colour is a huge step forward. “The outrageous level of exclusion in writers’ rooms has real-life consequences for Black people, people of colour and women,” Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color Of Change—the organization that conducted the study on diversity in writer’s rooms during the 2016-2017 television season, said in a statement. “While shows like Queen Sugar and Insecure boast diverse writers’ rooms and stand out as powerful examples of progress, the industry as a whole is failing.”

But it’s women like Rae that are helping change the face of entertainment, slowly yet surely.

Issa Rae saying "I'm rooting for everyone Black"

(Credit: GIPHY)

In her recent Vogue cover story, her Royal Highness Beyoncé reiterated the importance of creating opportunities for artists who have previously been overlooked by a mostly white industry—like 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell, who shot Beyoncé’s Vogue cover, becoming the mag’s first ever Black photographer (!). “It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists. There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter,” Beyoncé said.

And that’s exactly what Rae is doing as well.

According to Rae, the theme of HBO’s Insecure Season 3 is “you should know better, so do better.” In HBO’s sneak peek at the upcoming season, which premieres on August 12, Rae is referring to her character Issa Dee, who at the end of season 2, has temporarily moved in with her on-again, off-again boy-toy Daniel and is somewhat, for lack of a better term, insecure about her single status. But clearly, the idea of “doing better” seems to be something that extends far beyond the show’s storylines—it’s something that Rae embodies in how she works.

That does it. New life motto: What Would Issa Do?

With files from Meaghan Wray 

Related: 

Issa Rae Gets Real About Black Girl Magic in the Beauty Industry
Here’s How the Woman Behind the Camera on Insecure Properly Lights Its Black Actors
Toronto Black Film Festival’s Fabienne Colas: “We Need Diversity”

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