Issa Rae: Hollywood is lazy to find different voices after BLM

“We were told there was no audience,” Rae said of the first start. “Hearing that felt like a slap in the face.”

Issa Rae is calling out to the film and television industry.

“I’ve realized there’s a laziness in the industry,” the Emmy winner told Vulture. “After George Floyd, I got so many emails from people who meant well but said, ‘Hey, I want to do better. Can you name some of the people you’ve worked with that you can recommend?’ And I said, ‘Bitch, go find her like I did! I found them! do the work! Watch her shorts!’”

The multi-hyphenated showrunner landed a five-year, $40 million deal with WarnerMedia last year, but Rae pondered the many obstacles when she started.

“In college I tried to get into the industry. I had a writing partner and we submitted scripts to Sundance. We became semifinalists,” said Rae. “We met all these executives in LA to try to sell a movie. And during that time we were told that there was no audience for the work we wanted to bring to screen. I thought, ‘Yeah, damn it! I know the audience! I know people and I wanted to see that.’”

The “Rap Sh!t” creator said, “It felt like a slap in the face to hear that knowing it wasn’t true as we were starving at the time.”

Rae began creating web series in 2007 with the “intent to get on TV, to get attention” and to get viewership credentials. “Even then, I was still getting the same thing trying to sell those TV shows,” Rae said of her web shows. “On ‘The Dorm Diaries,’ they said, ‘College shows don’t really work.’ With Fly Guys Present the “F” Word, it was a music-heavy show — there were rappers doing comedy — they said, “You gotta pick a track!” And I was like, ‘But ‘Flight of the Conchords’ exists! You don’t like her?’ And with Awkward Black Girl, I was like, “These other two shows were commercial. They had an urban version of ‘Flight of the Conchords,’ and they don’t want that.”

Now, with the “Insecure” creator-star reigning in the industry, Rae faces the assumption that when she’s “in a position of power…” it’s easier for you to take risks. And while that may be true, Rae clarified that she “takes chances with people from the start because I want to win and find people, and there’s something reassuring about knowing that people are just as hungry as you are.” ”

Part of that hunger also stems from Rae’s quest to prove there’s an audience for her work. As the TV landscape continues to change, ratings are becoming increasingly elusive for streamers.

“When I think about the different phases of television, the 90s are the ones I know the most. It was fueled by ratings, but at least the creators had a measure of how well their show was doing,” Rae said. “Well, I guess the data down the line doesn’t belong to you. It’s hoarded. Are reviews important or not? Do reviews matter now? Can I access it? Am I writing to him?”

Rae added, “There’s a lot of confusion about how well the creators are doing across the board. That’s why it comes as a surprise to creators that their shows are canceled or their shows are taken off the air because they don’t have the information. ”

Luckily, Rae remains true to himself: “I produce what I want to see on TV. I produce what interests me. I produce for creators who I think are talented.”

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Lindsay Lowe

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