Issa Rae: Who Hollywood Needs

Issa Rae, photo by NY Mag

Issa Rae, photo by NY Mag

Whether you watch the show Insecure or not, you probably have heard about Issa Rae by now. With the arrival of the hollywood award season, Rae has been nominated for notable accolades for her show that she is the creator, writer, producer, and star of, including the Critics Choice Award, the NAACP Image Award, and the Golden Globe. As television shows increase in diversity, so do the portrayals of minorities. With her show Insecure, Rae has shown a different aspect of a black woman: insecurity. While Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating from the shows Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder respectively are portrayed as dynamic characters, they are the dominant, powerful women in their workplace with the messy personal lives. They are still shown as women who somewhat have a grip on their lives as seen in their career lives. They are women who can fix and climb out of situations as seen with Pope’s catchphrase: it’s handled. Pope and Keating are fierce and dominant characters that women aspire to be. But Insecure shows an everyday woman, Issa, that is more relatable than the aspirational Pope and Keating. In Insecure, you see a woman approaching thirty who doesn’t have a handle on life, who is trying to decide what to do in her career path, her love life, and who battles doubt and insecurity on a daily. With the somewhat effortless perfection that powerful female characters on television often have, it is refreshing to see a show like Insecure that shows a woman that has nothing figured out.

Before Insecure came about, Rae had created a popular YouTube web series called Awkward Black Girl. Rae had created the show because she felt there weren’t shows with characters she could relate to. She said: “I felt like my voice was missing, and the voices of other people that I really respect and admire and want to see in the mainstream are missing "I've always had an issue with the [assumption] that people of color,, and Black people especially, aren't relatable. I know we are."  With Awkward Black Girl and Insecure, Rae has certainly created characters that have the relatability factor. Rae shows how awkward, ridiculous, dubious, and clueless a black woman can be, and by doing so, she is humanizing black women. With the stereotypes and objectification that black women often face in the media, Rae created a show that was needed for black women now more than ever. As she continues to become more mainstream, hopefully more people will see the truth in what is she is conveying: black women are humans who are relatable and who are not a part of the false narratives and stereotypes that the media has depicted of them for so long.

by Maram Elnagheeb

Maram Elnagheeb