Issa Rae doesn’t make niche television. The 31-year-old, Los Angeles-based comedian makes funny, relatable, authentic television that flies in the face of Hollywood’s whiteness. Her YouTube webseries The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl blew up in 2011 precisely because it spoke to viewers who craved more authentic and meaningful representations of people of color. Awkward Black Girl’s protagonist J—played by Rae—wasn’t confined to the stereotypes non-white women on the screen often get sorted into. She was real. Rae was creating stories that were almost impossible to find on television.

The word-of-mouth success of Awkward Black Girl’s first season led to a second, which aired on Pharrell Williams’ i am OTHER YouTube channel. In 2012, the show won a Shorty Award, and Rae made her first appearance on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list (she made it again in 2014). Eventually, mainstream television caught on. In 2013, Rae and television superproducer Shonda Rhimes teamed up to develop a new project pointedly titled I Hate L.A. Dudes. It was set to be ShondaLand’s first comedy project, but ABC passed on the pilot, and the show was shelved. 

Four years after that disappointing setback, Rae’s work is finally coming to television. In 2015, HBO green-lit Insecure, a new series created by Rae and Larry Wilmore, former host of Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show. She wrote and stars in the new half-hour scripted series, which follows Issa, a black woman navigating her tumultuous personal and professional lives with the help of her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji) and freestyle rap. Melina Matsoukas—who has created music videos for stars like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Jay Z, and Lady Gaga—will direct, while Solange Knowles will serve as a music consultant for the show. 

Fans of Awkward Black Girl will recognize the bright, immersive world of Insecure (which premieres on HBO on Oct. 9). Rae is operating on an HBO budget now, but the intimate character work of her new show evokes the same specific and personal tone of her beloved web series. Like Awkward Black Girl, Insecure uses fantasy sequences and the performative and therapeutic aspects of rap to dig deep into its characters’ inner and outer selves. Awkward Black Girl’s Sujata Day also has a recurring role. Most strikingly, Insecure brings all of Awkward Black Girl’s candor about race, its authentic portrayals of black people, and its relatable storytelling to a major network saturated with whiteness and exclusive storytelling.  

Insecure certainly isn’t niche. It’s just something HBO has never had before. And Rae is ready for the world to see it.

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