Debut Author Snapshot: Issa Rae

Posted by Goodreads on February 3, 2015

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A self-made media star, writer and actress Issa Rae first conquered YouTube with her Kickstarted web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, and now she's taking on Hollywood. Poised to become a household name, Rae has a new half-hour comedy, Insecure, in development at HBO and has just launched a brand-new web series, The Legend of Human Black Guy. She's not only focusing on her own work. Rae is also the CEO of ColorCreative, which aims to change the television landscape by developing and producing shows by women and minority writers.

Her debut memoir with a familiar name, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, tells cringe-worthy, poignant, and always hilarious stories from her childhood—from preteen cyber sexing to her first kiss and beyond—alongside candid commentary on big-ticket topics like race, identity, and diversity in media.

Rae shares her two favorite episodes of Awkward Black Girl, where it all began.

Goodreads: You have a lot going on! Congrats on going from a scrappy Kickstarter for Awkward Black Girl to just a few years later launching ColorCreative. What projects are you most focused on now?

Issa Rae: Thank you! Right now I'm focused on getting the word out about my book, the second round of ColorCreative.TV (we're focusing on dramas right now), and building out my web platform to include more of the series that we're not seeing on television. I'm just focused on writing, creating, and helping other dope people to create, basically.

GR: These essays don't shy away from very personal topics. Do you have certain personal boundaries that you won't cross or is it all fair game?

IR: Yeah, definitely. The personal stuff about my family was really hard to share, and I had to make sure that certain members of my family were OK with it. I still didn't put it alllll out there, because they're not writing the book; I am. So I tried to limit it to stuff that affects me. Even in my personal life I didn't want to just load the book with stuff that would make people go, "TMI." These are specific stories meant to shed light on what makes me so awkward and socially uncomfortable.

GR: Writing or performing comedy takes a lot of bravery, and race-related comedy even more so. For you, why is comedy such an important part of the dialogue on race?

IR: I think comedy helps to soften the blow, honestly. You can call someone a racist with a serious tone, and they'll be offended almost immediately. But if you suggest it jokingly, they may laugh and they may not, but it will definitely linger with them. They may even ask, "Wait, am I?" Comedy makes people more open-minded in general.

GR: What's it like to transition between screenwriting and essay writing?

IR: It was SO hard! That was one of the hardest parts. Screenwriting is so character- and dialogue-heavy, and while you still spend time describing and narrating, nobody really gets to see that part. Screenwriting is really all about who your characters are and how you tell the story. Essay writing is so focused on how you write the story that it can be intimidating. I kept wondering how my 11th grade AP English teacher would grade me.

GR: Any advice for aspiring low-budget filmmakers and writers?

IR: Definitely. Write within a reasonable budget, for sure. Get as many resources as you can for free, and choose people to work with who believe in your vision and are willing to work as hard as you are.

GR: What's next for you as a writer?

IR: More writing. I'm working on a film, another series, and will continue to write for the web as much as I can. I want to write in all the mediums that allow me to express myself. Except poetry. I will never like poetry.

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by JW (new)

JW Very Humorously and brilliantly performed.

message 2: by Justine (new)

Justine Monikue I can't wait to read the book! I've already pre-ordered it for my Kindle. :-)

message 3: by Diana (last edited Feb 06, 2015 01:26AM) (new)

Diana Nortey I so want to work with this lady if I ever get the chance.. ABG was and will always be my fave web series to date!

message 4: by Amara (new)

Amara She's so awesome. Definitely a role model for younger writers, like myself. I can't wait for this book!!

message 5: by Marlene (new)

Marlene Mcpherson Issa Rae book is one that seemed to be one of inspiration. It is great to laugh at oneself and this says that the author is at peace with the dynamics of life. Hence this book will be one of positive dialogues.
Congratulations with this book!

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