Finally, HBO’s Insecure is coming back this Sunday, April 12 on Crave in Canada and HBO. The wait is over and the timing couldn’t be better – even when we aren’t stuck inside the show is a treat and a gift. Ahead of the premiere, Issa Rae was profiled in a wonderful Teen Vogue piece by Gerrick Kennedy with gorgeous photography by Ys Tsai. The article gives a rundown of Issa’s successful AF career, background, and context of her work along with Issa’s personal insights.
I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since Insecure season 3 aired, and Issa even addressed how the painful (for us) one year hiatus was necessary for the quality of the show, explaining that the show had collapsed under the weight of expectations.
“Insecure takes nine months out of my life. I'm pulling from life experience, and if you're not living, then what are you really making? It's a dream to be able to make this show, but I want to make sure that the show is also good,” she tells me. “We needed a pause. Coming back, we just felt so fresh and excited to be there, and it showed. It felt like fun again.”
This is so real, and starkly different from the often disingenuous and profit-minded models some creators live by. But being authentic is something Issa does naturally, it’s why so many of us are in love with her. She knows how to be real without trying too hard, and has the uncanny ability to laugh at herself and others.
Insecure is a direct continuation of Issa’s iconic tw season YouTube series The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, where J, like Issa in Insecure, navigates her ordinary yet hilarious life. ABG (which also starred and was produced by Tracy Oliver, writer of Girls Trip, Barbershop: The Next Cut, Survivor’s Remorse and more) also contains a problematic workplace led by a culturally inappropriate boss, J’s messy love life, and most notably a past iteration of Issa’s rap bitch. In Insecure, like in ABG, rap bitch narrates Issa’s grievances and innermost thoughts into the mirror. The show is even holding a rap bitch contest for viewers right now. Rap has been such an organic aspect of Insecure, the much coveted soundtrack to the show is always available on iTunes. Issa’s passion for music is also clear in one of her most recent career moves, creating a record label called Raedio with Atlantic Records.
Issa is the kind of trailblazer that clearly takes seriously her responsibility to create space for Black creatives, and her work naturally accomplishes this. During the Insecure hiatus, she co-produced (and appeared in) HBO hit A Black Lady Sketch Show. She’s been acting in quite a few movies recently, but one that sticks out for me was The Photograph, directed by Stella Meghie, released earlier this year. Stella also directed one of my favourite Insecure episodes, season 3’s “Fresh Like.".
Issa tells Teen Vogue:
“I just want to try different things [and] keep getting better … because I’ve never considered myself an actress,” she says of her nascent film career. “I always considered myself a writer-producer — and an actress for fun. I want to make sure that with each project I’m taking on, I’m bringing something to the table and not just showing up as me. A lot of people don't get this opportunity, so I don't want to take it for granted.”
And Issa still doesn’t care about people’s loud criticism that Insecure doesn’t correctly depict their Black experience – because it’s HER Black experience:
“If I felt restricted by audience reaction, then I couldn’t make the show. We tune all that sh-t out because we just want to tell the best story,” she says. “I don't feel obligated to tell certain stories because of our audience, and I don't feel restricted from telling certain stories because of our audience. It's my story. Who's going to tell me what to say?”
As a Black creative myself, nothing is more inspiring than the reality of us not being a monolith.
On the show, she didn’t offer any spoilers but did reveal that season 4 will be Insecure’s season of growth, following season 3 that was about building, explaining:
“[This season is] just about asking the question: Are people in your life for a reason or a season?”
This is totally delightful for me, as season 3 developed the characters in a way that made them accountable for their actions and mistakes. Issa finally left her dead-end job and was interviewing at an organization that was aligned with her passion. She goes back and forth about actually realising her dream project, a block party. Nathan appears out of nowhere (or seemingly depression) to un-ghost her. This almost didn’t happen because judgmental Molly intercepted his flowers to Issa, causing Issa to finally call her out for her negativity, something Molly’s therapist has been hinting at since the first session. Molly is starting to change, and like she did with Jared last season, apologizes to Andrew (Asian bae) for sabotaging their potential relationship. Andrew seems less tired of her than Jared (and me) so I’m hoping he’s back this season. Lawrence, like Molly earlier in season 3, learns his parent’s relationship was complicated and had baggage, and like Molly, begins to loosen his controlling ways around dating.
Sunday can’t come soon enough. #ExcitedAF
For more in Issa Rae in Teen Vogue, click here.
Attached - Issa at an event in LA at the end of February.