One day I was scrolling my timeline and I saw a man tweet that “there aren’t any funny women in comedy because women aren’t generally funnier than men.” I could go in about where this sentiment comes from, but I rather not give anymore energy to the ignorati.
I found this odd because I grew up around funny women. My maternal grandmother is a native Jamaican and will fry you up like plantains with a smile on her face.
My big sister is one of the funniest people ever and I’m just waiting on her to get her own channel. One of my best friends Kris can easily get any dry room in laughter and tears by pointing out the smallest thing.
I know plenty of funny regular everyday Black women. But when I look on TV these women don’t get the shine they deserve.
That’s why when Issa Rae came along I was absolutely in love. Like many in her stangirl club, I found her series “Awkward Black Girl” on YouTube to be so relatable and on point.
Although “Awkward Black Girl” ended without us knowing what happened between her and Jay, “Insecure” has definitely filled that aching void. It is a long overdue illustration of one Black woman’s complexity.
Career, love and life in general can feel like a never ending gamble in your 20s and Rae made it so real folks have been arguing about the finale for more than a week now. Rae in particular is going to give alot of other young black funny women permission to spread their wings and tell their stories and I can’t wait to see it. Great job, girl!
That’s why for this first Creative Case Study, I wanted to highlight Issa’s journey.
Moving forward I will be highlighting creatives who are currently having great moments and dive into the key moments that defined their glow ups! We often see the outcome but we forget that everyone starts somewhere.
Here are 20 key moments that shaped Issa Rae. (Sourced from her New York Times magazine interview this past year.)
- Jo-Issa “Issa” Rae Diop grew up in Windsor Hills, Los Angeles, the area where many of the black TV shows and movies she loved watching such as “Love and Basketball,” “Boyz N the Hood,” and ‘‘Girlfriends” were shot. This inspires her.
- Family moves to Dakar, Senegal where they lived for two years. They eventually moved back to the states.
- Began taking acting serious as a drama student at King Drew High school.
- Enters Stanford University. There she produces her first play, an adapation of Spike Lee’s “School Daze.” This inspired her DIY grind.
- Senior year, she creates a mockumentary called “Dorm Diaries” featuring only Black students and posts them online. Black students on other IVY League campuses loved it and it began to spread. She realized she was on to something with her approach to telling black stories.
- Moves to New York City for a fellowship at the Public Theater.
(Photo Credit: YouTube)
- Equipment is stolen from her apartment including the footage of “Dorm Diaries” which she was going to pitch to MTV or BET. She falls into rough financial patch and depressed state.
- Networking in the film and entertainment industry New York City was a fish out of the water experience for Issa. One night she found herself journaling about what she was feeling and wrote “I’m awkward. And black.” She decided she wanted to create something around this feeling.
- “Awkward Black Girl” is released to the world and goes viral.
- Rae is approached by networks who want the idea but don’t want her to play the lead. She declines.
- Pitches show called “I Hate L.A. Dudes” to Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers, who sold the show to ABC. The show however never took off and plans fell through.
(Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images)
- Issa receives call from HBO’s VP of programming who asks her if she has any ideas. She pitches “Insecure.” Larry Wilmore is assigned to help her through the screen-writing process and so the real work begins.
- Works as Executive Producer of Black and Sexy TV’s “Roomieloverfriends” for several episodes.
- Insecure’s script is greenlighted. Rae then builds her Black dream team with industry veteran Prentice Penny and visual Queen Melina Matsoukas.
- Meanwhile Rae still shelled out content on her own platform as Co-Executive Producer of the series “First.”
(Photo Credit: Neilson Barnard, Getty Images)
- Releases memoir The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
- Appears on Essence magazine with Ava Duvernay, Shonda Rhimes, Debbie Allen and Mara Brock Akil.
- Insecure premiers on HBO GO in September finally!
- HBO renews Insecure for a second season this past November.
To be continued!
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