Issa Rae kicks off Black History Month

Issa Rae

Golden Globe nominee Issa Rae is the creator of HBO’s “Insecure.” (Photo: Vibhu S. Rangavasan)

“There’s not one singular ‘black’ story,” Issa Rae told a crowded Illinois Room in Student Center East Feb. 1 during UIC’s Black History Month kick-off event.

Rae, a 2017 Golden Globe nominee, creator of HBO’s “Insecure,” and best-selling author, spoke about her values and point of view as a black woman in television. Val Warner, co-host of “Windy City Live,” interviewed Rae during the event.

“We deserve to be reflected on screen,” she said. “We haven’t been in a long time.”

Rae stressed the importance of black people creating their own representations in media.

“We exist without white people,” she said about the lack of black TV shows.

“Insecure” is based on Rae’s YouTube series, “Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl.” She recalled when her web series was first picked up to be a TV show.

“There was a white guy in charge of the meeting saying, ‘The show is about an awkward black girl. I get it,’ and I was just like, ‘No… you don’t!’” she said as the crowd erupted with laughter.

No stranger to television writing, Rae has been in the business for about a decade, including a time she dubbed “the reality era.”

“I was tired of seeing the same black women on TV,” Rae said. “Of course these women exist, but there was this lack of balance.”

She also touched on the significance of this moment in history.

“Art as social change is as important as ever,” she said. “We’ve [black people] been working; we’re just now being noticed.”

Rae compared TV now to the ’90s.

“We haven’t seen the experience of black people just being black without the implications of ‘the [black] struggle’ and race since then,” she said.

UIC student Frederique Desrosiers said she could relate to Rae.

“I’m insecure about being labeled an angry black girl, arrogant or too outspoken,” she said.

“Seeing someone so successful and introverted is inspiring…now I know I can [be successful].”

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