Issa Rae Says She’s Taking Steps to Be ‘Independent’ after Several Black-Led TV Shows Were Canceled

  • PublishedJanuary 30, 2024

In a candid interview with Porter magazine, Issa Rae, the brilliant creator and star of the hit series Insecure, opened up about the troubling trends she’s observed in the entertainment industry. As she delves into her latest project, the movie “American Fiction,” Rae isn’t just addressing the hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness of white audiences consuming Black entertainment on the screen; she’s also shedding light on the alarming dynamics occurring behind the scenes in Hollywood.

The discussion started with Rae expressing concern about the increasing number of Black-led television shows being canceled and the corporate shake-ups happening, particularly on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) side. “You’re seeing so many Black shows get canceled, you’re seeing so many executives—especially on the DEI side—get canned,” Rae pointed out. “You’re seeing very clearly now that our stories are less of a priority.”

Rae’s frustration is understandable, given that her own series, “Rap Sh!t,” met an untimely demise at Max after just two seasons. Her pessimism about the industry’s future is palpable. “I am pessimistic because there’s no one holding anybody accountable—and I can, sure, but also at what cost? I can’t force you to make my stuff,” she explained. “It’s made me take more steps to try to be independent down the line if I have to.”

Despite these challenges, Rae’s passion for her work remains unshakeable. She is currently involved in writing multiple projects, including one for herself and another for production in collaboration with others. “I’ve been feeling so inspired and excited to get back at it,” she shared. “I’m embracing that challenge. The industry is in flux, so it’s really inspired me to focus and hone in on what stories I want to tell. I’ve been laser-focused on getting these projects up and running.”

One of the key themes explored in “American Fiction” is the issue of white audiences placing very specific narratives about Black people on a pedestal, often at the expense of more diverse representations of Blackness. Rae echoes this sentiment, stating, “I don’t think it’s a secret that many white audiences and critics tend to reward traumatizing depictions or their own biased perceptions of what Blackness is. It’s frustrating.”

Last year, Rae appeared in three major films— “American Fiction,” “Barbie,” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” Notably, all three projects received Academy Award nominations, further underscoring Rae’s talent and impact within the industry.

Issa Rae’s determination to push for more authentic and diverse storytelling in entertainment serves as a powerful reminder of the challenges that persist in an industry marked by systemic biases. Her commitment to being an independent force in the future exemplifies her resilience and determination to create content that truly represents the full spectrum of Black experiences. As she continues to inspire and uplift marginalized voices, Issa Rae remains a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.

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