Issa Rae Says She’s ‘Pessimistic’ About Future of Black-Led TV: ‘There’s No One Holding Anybody Accountable’

“Insecure” and “Rap Sh!t” creator Issa Rae feels continued pessimism about true inclusion in Hollywood, especially when it comes to the diversification of Black stories. In a cover story for fashion retailer Net-a-Porter, the multihyphenate creator shared that she doesn’t have much hope for the future of television when it comes to diverse representation.

“You’re seeing so many Black shows get canceled, you’re seeing so many executives – especially on the DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] side – get canned. You’re seeing very clearly now that our stories are less of a priority,” she said. “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. It’s made me take more steps to try to be independent down the line if I have to.”

Just weeks ago, Rae’s “Rap Sh!t” was not renewed for a third season by Max after the delayed premiere of Season 2 from August to November because of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

The actress and writer, whose web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” gained traction on the internet in 2011, added that Black stories in particular need more variety so that the experience of Blackness isn’t generalized or abbreviated.

“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,” Rae said as she talked about her latest role in “American Fiction” as author Sintara Golden. “If this were a movie just about that Black family, I don’t know that it would get praised as much as it has been. Those kinds of movies are hard to get made.”

She discussed how she relates to Jeffrey Wright’s character Monk in his frustration with her “American Fiction” character, an author whose “hood lit” bestselling novel, “We’s Lives In Da Ghetto,” perpetuates derogatory stereotypes.

“I found [the script] so relatable, so funny, so perfectly satirical. Because I’ve been Monk, and I remember in the ‘Awkward Black Girl’ days – and even prior to that – feeling so enraged about what wasn’t being made,” she said. “And being mad at who was in the spotlight at the time, because I was like, ‘I know we’re so much more than what’s being presented here.’ I recognize that hunger, of just wanting your work to be seen and attacking the wrong targets.”

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