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Issa Rae June 2021 Vanity Fair Cover Story

Source: Adrienne Raquel / Vanity Fair

Not that you want to, but could you imagine the Awkward Black Girl series without Issa Rae? In a new interview for Vanity Fair, Issa Rae touched on the time a TV executive recommended Lauren London to play the lead role in the cable version of Awkward Black Girl instead of Rae, who had created the beloved series on Youtube — proving Black women, especially dark skinned Black women, are dispensable even to their own narratives.

Issa continued to reveal, her mention of Lauren in the anecdote of her book, where she referred to her as “Lil Wayne’s baby’s mama” hurt the Without Remorse actress’ feelings. “One of my biggest regrets, naming her,” she says. “She took offense to that.”

It would be the late Nipsey Hussle, who would encourage a conversation between the two at Diddy’s birthday party two years after the incident, that would lead to both women reconciling.

“He was like, ‘You should just talk to her. Let me set it up,’ ” she told writer Yohana Desta. “It actually sparked an amazing two-hour conversation. We had so much in common. She was like, ‘People don’t understand, I’m an awkward Black girl.’ In the same way that I was upset about the limited portrayal of Black women, she was like, ‘People do the same thing to me.’ I completely get that.”

Issa’s revelation is an unfortunate reminder of the colorism epidemic in Hollywood. While London may very well be an awkward Black girl, she is the archetype for acceptable Black beauty because of her skin color and features. The fact Rae could be written out her own show as it transitioned to TV is problematic.

Because so many doors were closed in her face, Issa will lead HBO’s “Project Greenlight,” which will “focus on talented female filmmakers who are given the chance to direct a feature film,” according to Variety.

The glory in creating more opportunities for Black filmmakers to get their projects funded and green lit is seeing diversity on screen so that there are no replacements, like the TV exec suggested, there’s room for the spectrum of Black faces we need to see to feel fully represented. Shout out to Issa for doing the work and being the change.

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