The Evolution Of Issa Rae

Issa Rae turned being an Awkward Black Girl into a culture reflecting series — here is her path to success.

Jo-Issa Rae Diop was a Los Angeles-born “halfrican” as she affectionately refers to the mixture of her mother’s Louisiana roots and her father’s Senegalese heritage. She felt that her Blackness isolated her from her white classmates in school, but that she wasn’t “Black enough” to satisfy her Black classmates. Her father wanted her to practice medicine, but she found herself being drawn to drama classes, which she says gave her an outlet to explore her blossoming interest in TV and film.

In 2006, the widespread success of her web series “Dorm Diaries” showed the world that she had talent, humor, and acting chops. She pursued an internship at the Public Theater in New York, and founded a nonprofit called the Black Film Academy. She planned to pitch “Dorm Diaries” to MTV but her apartment was tragically burglarized, causing her to have to move back to L.A.

She created “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" in 2011 on YouTube and garnered millions of followers. In 2013 she was approached by HBO to pitch some fresh ideas and ended up writing the pilot script for “Insecure” with Larry Wilmore. The hilarious, and sometimes dramatic, television series is a love letter to L.A. and helps highlight authentic life in the Inglewood neighborhood.

Her acting has earned her two Golden Globes nominations and a Primetime Emmy nod — and Insecure’s newest season will surely follow its predecessor seasons’ success.

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