The Adventures of Issa Rae Monday 27 June, 2011

The first time I was introduced to “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl,” Kathryn sent me a link with a note saying: Watch this! You WILL Laugh! I clicked and watched episode 1 of “Awkward Black Girl” and was instantly hooked. I laughed, watched it again, and then emailed it to everyone I knew with […]

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The first time I was introduced to “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl,” Kathryn sent me a link with a note saying: Watch this! You WILL Laugh! I clicked and watched episode 1 of “Awkward Black Girl” and was instantly hooked. I laughed, watched it again, and then emailed it to everyone I knew with the same note: You WILL laugh. Issa Rae‘s comedy has that affect on people. You laugh and want to share. Her humor and brilliant writing allows us to see ourselves in many of her characters. We were pleased to talk with Issa Rae about her comedy series “Awkward Black Girl,” upcoming projects and new partnership with UTA and 3 ARTS Entertainment, the folks that manage Tina Fey and other inspiring funny people like Issa.

From one awkward black girl to another, thank you for creating “The Mis-adventures of Awkward Black Girl.” I laughed out loud, shared the videos with friends and watched them all over again! Congratulations on all of the success you’ve had with the web series. What made you want to create it from, what we’d call, the awkward black girl’s point of view?

First off, thank you so much for watching and spreading the word! I really appreciate the support and it’s great to see so many fellow awkward girls, and awkward people in general, responding to it. Creating this series from the awkward black girl’s point of view was important to me because that voice just isn’t represented in anything I see on TV or film right now. I wanted to see a character that I personally identified with on screen and so, “J” was born.

Clearly, a lot of hard work and love for what you do goes into the series. Can you walk us through the process of creating a show from concept to YouTube?

I’m very impulsive. So, if I have an idea that I’m passionate about, I won’t stop thinking about it until I do it. With Fly Guys, I was in class, thought of the concept, text messaged them and they were down. Then it was just a matter of writing the story outline and shooting it.

With ABG, it was a little different because I thought of the concept two years ago, but I wanted it to be animated. I’m not an animator, so it wasn’t easy for me to just do it. After coming to the realization that animation was out of my budget, I just decided to be in it myself. If I didn’t put myself in it, I knew I wouldn’t get it done. All this to say that my process is essentially, “If I have the resources to do it myself, I will do it myself … RIGHT NOW.” That’s not always the best thing to do, but I’m very adamant about timing.

Is there anything that you wouldn’t joke about? Is there such thing as going too far in comedy?

There are a lot of things I won’t joke about. There are some things I feel are in poor taste – like disabled or handicap jokes. Anything where people can’t help or properly defend themselves. I will push the bar, but I feel like I know where to stop.

What filmmakers make you laugh? Who do you think is under-rated and deserves more attention?

Filmmakers who make me laugh? Judd Apatow, Wes Anderson, Christopher Guest … I used to think Donald Glover was underrated, but I’m happy to see that the world is catching on to him. If it’s not already obvious to you, I LOVE him and think he’s incredibly talented. I also think Tracie Thoms is incredibly underrated. She’s hilarious and should be a household name.

You are more than a triple threat as a director/writer/editor/and actress. What’s your big vision for your career? And, is there anything new around the corner you want to share with us?

I want to be the Black Tina Fey and the Female Donald Glover. They both have written for awesome shows, written and produced their own features and act in television shows. I would love to do that. In the long term, I want to be able to produce/fund my own content–in film, television and the web–and help to find other unique, minority voices to share the screen.

I’m very happy to say that I’m now being represented by UTA and 3 ARTS Entertainment. They manage some of my comedy heroes like, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Donald Glover (third reference?), Judd Apatow, Aziz Ansari. The list goes on and on … So I’m VERY excited to see where this goes.

How can our readers keep in touch in a non-stalking way along your journey?

I’m going to start blogging more soon, so readers can catch up with me at http://issarae.com.

And, I just want to thank EVERYONE who has been posting, sharing, word-of-mouthing my work – whether “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” “Fly Guys present The ‘F’ Word” or even, “Dorm Diaries.” I have a lot more projects in store, including films, and I hope people stay tuned!

Finally, what does living unchained mean to you?

To me, living unchained means refusing to accept barriers. It means not making excuses, not holding back, and living life to the fullest extent. Living unchained means being alive.

 Written by Miriam Moore and Kathryn Buford

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