Writer, actress, and Insecure co-creator Issa Rae is Complex's new cover star, and in her in-depth interview with Nadeska Alexis she spoke at length about the issues of race in the entertainment industry.
When Rae was asked about a comment she made regarding Hollywood's diversity and progress being tied to racist, old executives dying off, the star didn’t mince words in her response.
“I'm happy to report that we're making progress. People are dying,” she said in joke-y and serious manner. “Roger Ailes just died. He needed to go. it's great. As time goes on… unfortunately we won't be able to take advantage of it like the younger generation, but it's happening and I feel like there are people in positions of power who wouldn't have had an opportunity in the past that have opportunities now and who have, a firm vision and are intent on hiring the people who haven't been hired in the past. I'm very optimistic on that. People die every day, so it's great.”
Issa Rae's words may rub some the wrong way, but there's truth in what she's saying. Racial issues in the entertainment industry have been well-publicized these last few years, most notably with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in the movie industry. Television, by comparison, has offered a more diverse crowd of nominees at the Emmys, but make no mistake: there’s still progress to be made—especially at all levels of the creative process, including the executive levels, where money is allocated and shows get greenlit or canceled.
In that respect, Rae highlights the importance of having individuals like Prentice Penny and Melina Matsoukas involved in the day-to-day creation of Insecure. While you wouldn’t describe them as TV veterans, their vision certainly helped shape the show. According to Rae, not everyone gets that opportunity in 2017.
“That's the biggest catch-22 of the situation of just trying to work in Hollywood, trying to hire younger writers, trying to hire people who aren't in the union and who aren't experienced," she said. "They'll never get those opportunities if they don't get a chance, and some people get a chance and blow it. OK, but at least they got one.”
Watch our full video cover story with Issa Rae here. Season 2 of Insecure premieres on HBO this Sunday, July 23.