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‘Insecure’ Star Continues To Be Rae of Light for Audiences

Issa Rae Portrait
Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP/REX/Sh

There are some who say Issa Rae videos should come with a warning label: Her work, particularly her groundbreaking YouTube web series “Awkward Black Girl” and award-winning HBO TV series “Insecure,” can be a little addictive.

Maybe it’s because we’re all a little awkward, we’re all a little insecure and so we can relate.
Or maybe it’s just because they’re so funny, so honest, so real.

Rae, who is being inducted into Variety’s Home Entertainment Hall of Fame, is a true viral Internet sensation-goes-Hollywood success story. She nimbly navigates the supposed divide between new media and old and dabbles in all sorts of tangents, including a talk show with creatives, behind-the-scenes mini-docs, and a curated collection of short films “from creators of color.” Upcoming projects include “Sweet Life,” a coming-of-age tale of teens growing up in Windsor Hills (an affluent, predominately African-American community in Los Angeles) and “Him or Her,” centered around a black man’s bisexual dating life, both for HBO.

The one commonality: Rae, born in L.A. to a doctor and a schoolteacher, likes to focus on African-American life, people and experiences as they really are, not how Hollywood would like them to be. As she told a newspaper in 2015, “I’ve always had an issue with the [assumption] that people of color, and black people especially, aren’t relatable. I know we are.”

Given the success of her web series, her YouTube channel (“Issa Rae Presents: Bringing You Quality Content of Color,” with more than 400,000 subscribers), her HBO series and just about everything else she touches, it’s hard to argue with that.