Jo-Issa Rae Diop most notably appeared on the scene through her YouTube series Awkward Black Girl, which started in 2011. More recently, Issa Rae has taken the internet and television world by storm through her HBO show, Insecure. Rae was born January 12, 1985, and raised in California by her parents, a pediatric doctor and a teacher. For a short time her family relocated to Senegal, her father’s place of birth, before returning to live in the US. In sixth grade, she transferred to a mostly African American school where she struggled to fit in because classmates told her she “acted white.” In high school she began performing onstage, and later graduated from Stanford with a degree in African American Studies. Throughout her college career, Rae began making movies and plays. After college, Rae was debating whether to go to law school, but her passion for writing and acting won out. This led to the creation and success of Awkward Black Girl. In 2011, Rae ran a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $50,000 to fund the first season of the show. On her campaign video, she explained how Hollywood stereotypes black women as not being relatable.
Through her work, Rae has introduced the world to an image of black girls and women rarely seen: an “awkward” black girl. Issa Rae has been able to channel her experiences into a narrative that connects to so many black girls across the globe. She speaks to every black girl that has ever been called weird or strange—for all the girls that never fit the mold. The talented performer’s latest endeavor is the HBO series Insecure, which aired its first episode on October 9, 2016, and has been a wondrous expansion on the “awkward” black girl motif. We are introduced to dynamics of friendship, love, insecurity, and relationships in a way that has never been explored in the past involving young black adults. Insecure has received rave reviews across the board.
In November, HBO renewed the show’s contract for a second season. Even President Obama recently told Rae she was doing “a great job” after the cast visited the White House Christmas Party a few weeks ago. Rae is nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Comedy or Musical for her role in Insecure. Issa Rae currently has over a quarter-million subscribers to her YouTube channel. Be sure to catch her other work on Youtube: Ratchet Piece Theater, The “F” Word, Roomieloverfriends, The Fly Guys, and The Choir. Check out more of Rae’s short films at her website, IssaRae.com.