Issa Rae opens up about the lack of diversity and inclusion in the film and TV industry and why she feels there’s a false promise of representation.
Rae, 35, sat down with Cultured Magazine for a photoshoot and an in-depth interview about her current projects and her thoughts on the inclusion of people of color within the film and television industry. Rae is one of the most outspoken figures in the culture, never holding back from saying exactly how she feels. One recent example was when the actor-writer announced this year’s Oscar nominations with #JohnCho. This year, like many others, only featured men nominated in the director categories, to which Rae responded, saying, “Congratulations to those men.” Another moment was when she boldly said she is “rooting for everybody Black,” while being interviewed at the 2017 Emmys.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
“I’m always thinking about the fact that as a performer and someone on screen, I have a very limited window. As a woman, as a Black person, there’s only so long that people are going to want to see me. If I’m lucky, I can have a Denzel career or a Phylicia Rashad career or Debbie Allen-type career, but that’s not always the case,” she said to the publication. Rae also opened up about how her hit HBO series, “Insecure,” was once a passion project that turned into a homework assignment.
“It started to feel like a job. It’s very different from the first season when nobody has any expectations, and from Season 2, when people are anticipating it innocently,” she said. “And these are expectations in terms of the audience, in terms of execs, things like that. That played a huge role in the anxiety surrounding it.”
Like all Black artists, the need for a platform and free space is dire, and typically studios and productions hire Black artists with a quota in mind. “Oh, did y’all hire me to be your Blackface? Are you awarding me, because you want to say that you’re thinking about Black women?” she wondered. “I have seen the narrative that I want to make content for white people. Any suggestion that I’d be pleased that I have any kind of white acceptance—and that that is what’s necessary to succeed—irks me,” she said.
Rae has a variety of projects in the works. She’s currently co-starring alongside #LaKeithStanfield in the highly anticipated film #ThePhotograph and season 4 of Insecure is set to premiere sometime this year.