‘Insecure’ Creator Issa Rae on How the Hit Show Came to Be

issa-rae-insecureIssa Rae is quickly becoming a household name in Black Hollywood. The 31-year-old actress and writer is the creator and star of Insecure, a show about a character named Issa (loosely based on herself) who is “not black enough for the black people and not white enough for the white people.”

The TV series is an evolution of her web series,The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, that focuses on a type of Black woman who is rarely portrayed entertainment- the one that doesn’t quite fit in. “I knew I was black, obviously, but the ‘awkward’ part really just defined me in a sense,” Rae told NPR during an interview. “That felt like an identity that I had not seen reflected in television or film before, or at least in a very long time.”

Now that the series has made it to air, it’s become a hit- but the journey that took it from Internet to HBO was a rough one. See how Issa said the evolution that almost didn’t happen, happened:

I was actively producing another Web series about … my brother’s music group trying to make it in LA, and it was the first time that I had started to take Web producing seriously. … And I realized, Man, it’s just not doing the numbers that I want. I feel like they’re so talented and it’s really good. What is the issue?

Each episode was seven minutes, and that could’ve been part of our problem during that time. So by the time I did Awkward Black Girl, I was like, I’m going to learn from all of the mistakes from my other two Web series. …

Our second season of Awkward Black Girl was produced by Pharrell Williams, via his I Am Other company, and that got press and we got reviewed in The New York Times for our second season opening. And that got the attention of ABC and [Shonda Rhimes’ production company] ShondaLand, and I got an opportunity to develop a pilot with them, a completely different pilot called I Hate L.A. Dudes. And ABC ended up passing on that project and I was devastated. I was like, Man, I blew my one shot. And then HBO called me and said, “Hey, we heard that you’re free. … Do you have any ideas to pitch for us?” I pitched them the idea that ultimately became Insecure.

Insecure airs Sundays at 10:30pm on HBO (and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you’re seriously missing out!). If you don’t have HBO, Issa’s got you covered with another way for you to be able to watch.

Photo Credit: Issa Rae/Instagram