WATCH: Issa Rae Shares Her Early Career Journey with Khadi Don

Issa Rae recently sat down with actress and comedian Khadi Don to share her story as a successful young creator with a captive audience.

In the beginning of career Rae said it started with her “wanting to a write and tell stories. For me being on Youtube was just super accessible. Being on Youtube it felt like there was no gatekeeper, nobody to tell me yes or no.” Recognizing the rising popularity of social media among her peers, Rae utilized Youtube and Facebook to their fullest, using social media as a tool to share her content with others.

“I just thought, It would so dope if I could create a mockumentary or soap about what it’s about to be a student at Standford,” said Rae. It took three online series for Rae’s career to take off, with “Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl” launching her career.

In discussing the early stages of her career, Rae made it clear that success doesn’t come easy and that in her profession, persistence is a virtue.

It didn’t happen overnight.  At one point Rae wasn’t working and was doing editing and videography odd jobs. She was also working hard on her first two online series.

There were other steps. “I got an opportunity to work with Shondaland at ABC, and I thought it was going to be my big break and it wasn’t because I just wasn’t ready for it,” she said. “When the ABC door shut HBO called. Then it took three years for the series to be made, so it took some time.”

When asked about the importance and fear of putting yourself out there as a creator, Rae recalls her first social media “content”­ – a drunk, phone-recorded freestyle with her friend called “F*ck You B*tch.” It got 150,000 views. It’s on private now, but Issa Rae has been hesitant for putting herself out for out for public consumption. Rae admits there was a time when she used to take to heart every comment and criticism she came across. “Even when [Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl] was well received, for Insecure it was a completely different story, you’re known for one thing and people kind of want you to stick to that. I didn’t want to do the same thing over and over again so I was scared about how people would receive it.”

As far as the future of her of career, Rae is excited about with writing producing and shooting future film projects. But there is one specific thing she wants. “I just want to have a studio! Just a chance to be able to create, and to finance and to have the ownership of my own content and empower other people to do the same.”

Take a look a look at the 49 minute video below for more of Rae’s funny, informative and inspirational interview with Don.



About The Author

The HBR Media Team is a collective group of black women filmmakers, writers, and studio/network executives who are passionate about bringing visibility to women of African descent working in film and television.

Related Posts