It’s been a magical few years for Hollywood’s newest melanated goddess Issa Rae. From breaking out with her critically acclaimed, highly rated and repeatedly nominated HBO series Insecure to raking up a host of other in-developement television and film projects, she is the on the lips on practically everyone in Hollywood—and she doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. In the latest issue of GQ, Rae gets candid about her success and channels some of our favorite ‘90s sitcom characters along the way.
We here at HB have written about our love for Issa Rae’s ground-breaking series Insecure and our love for black ‘90s sitcoms, so imagine our delight when the two were combined in a new exclusive interview with Rae for GQ. From the very start of her career, specifically the 2011 debut of her popular YouTube series Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae has expressed her love for black pop culture, especially as it relates to ‘90s TV and film. If you pay close attention, you can hear and see the references on Insecure or read some of her interviews throughout the last few years and she makes her deep affection known.
But for as much as Rae embraces black ‘90s nostalgia and her rising star in Hollywood, she is still afraid for the other shoe to drop. In one of the most telling excerpts from the in-depth interview, she expresses her fear of failure in today’s public landscape.
[On the possibility of her show failing]: “This could be the worst season we’ve ever had. And then what? Then people are all of a sudden like, ‘Oh, okay.’ Then the calls stop. It’s like stand-up comedy: In order to eventually succeed, you have to bomb. That’s what every comedian says—that’s when the fear goes away. And I feel like I’m still fearful because I haven’t publicly bombed yet, in terms of my career. Yeah, Insecure is successful now, but where’s my bomb coming? Where are my Will Smith bombs coming? Where, where is that happening?”
“He went through a period when he was depressed, when three or four of his movies in a row weren’t number one at the box office. So, for him that was terrible. And now he’s talking about, ‘You gotta fail, you gotta fail.’” She pauses. “And I don’t want to make Instagram speeches about failing. I don’t.”
Perhaps her fear of failing is due to her own self-described shyness and real-life awkwardness, but it’s refreshing to see someone at the top of their game struggle with uncertainty the way many of us have throughout our lives, particularly when you enter the age of adulting.
Fortunately, not all of the GQ profile focused on Rae’s insecurities (ha!) in fact she also opened up about how her love of black ‘90s sitcoms and their eventual disappearance led her to be determined to create her own—and she definitely has. “The takeaway was ‘Agh, black people are so dope. Where are they at on TV right now? Now I want my own version,” she said.
To celebrate all of the great black sitcoms that came before her, Rae literally transformed herself into Moesha Mitchell from Moesha, Will Smith from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Steve Urkel from Family Matters and Dwayne Wayne from A Different World.
As for what fans can expect from season three of Insecure, Rae is tight-lipped, and details have been scarce, but if it’s as jaw-dropping and exhilarating as the previous two seasons, viewers are in for a definite summer treat when the show returns to HBO on Sunday, August 12th.
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