Issa Rae is in Cannes this week and yesterday spoke on a panel at the Cannes Lion festival, a marketing and advertising convention. Issa challenged the ad industry to promote diversity in their work and on their teams by confronting their biases and by also following up and holding people to task on their commitments to inclusion. She also shared how she lives up to her own recommendation:
“For me it’s about making the changes on my end. Now I have the mandate of making sure my sets are 60% diverse, and that comes from realising my own power. I can say no to a job if the crew is all white, which happens all the time. How is this still happening, and how do you want me to be your spokesperson for diversity when the people behind are not diverse?
Issa has built on her own success to create space and opportunities for other storytellers through her production company Hoorae Media. Issa and Hoorae’s next big release is the series Rap Sh!t on HBO Max, starring Aida Osman and KaMillion about two estranged high school friends who reunite to become a rap group. A trailer for the show came out last week:
Set your calendars NOW for the premiere of our newest show #RapShit starring @shutupaida &Â @itsKaMillionÂ hittingÂ @HBOMax on July 21st!Â— HOORAE (@HOORAEMedia) June 13, 2022
ðŸŽ¶Â Walk With A Walk ðŸŽ¶Â AÂ #CampRaedio exclusive fromÂ @TheRaedio! pic.twitter.com/iJ9lUr8UZv
Remember how dominant Insecure was on social media, especially Twitter, during its five seasons? Same will happen with Rap Sh!t, no doubt. To go back to representation though and how Issa is using her platform to find new talent, here’s how she explained her approach to making the show:
“It’s set in Miami, so it’s important to have locals behind the scenes, including writers. For people to be immersed in the story, it has to be authentic.”
But while Issa is one of the executive producers on Rap Sh!t and also writes on the show, she’s not the showrunner. The showrunner is Syreeta Singleton, who was in the writers’ room on Insecure and who now herself has a development deal with HBO. This is what Issa means when she says that:
“Making a pipeline — having people rise in the industry. We don’t get promoted often, and seeing those people give opportunities to others, I’m most proud of that.”
She built a pipeline… in less than a decade! So for all those industry executives who talk about how it takes time, coming up with bullsh-t excuses about the process of finding talent, Issa just told them about themselves – that they either didn’t try hard enough or didn’t want to try hard enough. And that’s where I’ll end on, Issa’s comments about effort and who puts in the effort:
“We task diverse people to spread the word about diversity, when we know what it is already. My challenge is: hold people to task. Make sure these conversations are being had across the board.”
Right. We already know that Issa Rae and other BIPOC leaders are doing the work and we always want to talk to them about doing the work. But why are they being asked more often about it? Every time that Issa Rae is asked about diversity, Greta Gerwig should be asked the same. And Chuck Lorre. And Jesse Armstrong. Are their sets 60% diverse? If they are, great – are they sharing that with their peers? And if not… is that something they’re working towards? And how?
Before Cannes, Issa was in Miami at the American Black Film Festival promoting Rap Sh!t:
I LOVE the black and white jumpsuit she wears in this video.
Rap Sh!t. July 21!
Yours in gossip,