The Rise of Entertainment’s Self-Made Leading Lady Issa Rae
Issa mogul. This girl is on fire! Cue Alicia Keys’ 2012 banger, “Girl on Fire.” At only thirty-four years old, Issa Rae is doing it, baby! Starting out on YouTube with a web show called Awkward Black Girl, the TV/film tycoon gained further attention for creating, co-writing and even starring in the breakout HBO series, Insecure.
Born to a pediatrician for a father and a teacher for a mother, nobody could tell Rae’s parents what type of stardom their daughter was destined for. Named Jo-Issa Rae Diop, on January 12, 1985, Rae spent a small portion of her childhood in Dakar, Senegal, where her father is originally from. The family also had ties to Inglewood, California, which is where her father’s medical practice was located, and, as a child, Rae lived in Potomac, Maryland for a while.
During her stay on the east coast, Rae recalls that color wasn’t an issue and certain things weren’t considered “things that Black people don’t do.” After moving to the praised View Park-Windsor Hills community in Los Angeles, she attended King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, and from there, her acting career blossomed.
In 2007, Rae graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in African and African-American studies. Though she began acting in high school, it was in college when she hit YouTube with her online comedy, Awkward Black Girl, which eventually took off in 2011. The series soon went viral and gained tons of mainstream media coverage. In 2013, Awkward Black Girl won a Shorty Award for Best Web Show. She later wrote a book, titled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which coincided with the theme of the internet phenomenon. Insecure, her next popular endeavor, was picked up by HBO in 2015 and premiered the following year. To date, the show has had a total of three successful seasons. Season four is set for fall 2020.
Rae starred alongside Amandla Stenberg in 2018’s The Hate U Give as attorney April Ofrah. Subsequently, she went on to work alongside Regina Hall in Little, portraying the role of Hall’s character’s assistant, April. That in itself was completely comedic and added to her already growing repertoire.
What’s next for Issa Rae? Well, as far as film goes, she’s appearing in A Black Lady Sketch Show and an upcoming romantic comedy called The Lovebirds that focuses on a couple on the verge of breaking up but somehow becomes involved in a murder mystery. Additionally, she and LaKeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Get Out) will also play each other’s love interest in the Valentine’s Day debut, The Photograph.
It was recently announced that Issa Rae would also be a new voice for Google Assistant, and she’s opening her own record label, Raedio. Talk about working it! Yasssssss girl, yassssss! You better work it, honey, and don’t let anybody stop your shine.
Pull out all that Black Girl Magic and sprinkle it everywhere that you can because you are on fire. In a world where they are constantly saying that WE can’t, you are giving hope to the young, Black girl at home dreaming of breaking out in Hollywood. You are a motivation for all young women of color. To take a page out of President Obama’s campaign, Issa Rae is telling us all that Yes We Can! Salute!
Keep up with Issa Rae on social media!
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