GET TO KNOW….: Issa Rae, Awkward Black Girl

by Keya Maeesha

It started out as a curiosity. And no, not one of those fly by night kind of things where you think of it for one second and then like magic, the thought is gone. No..not this one. It was more of a curiosity that turned into an interest, which led to what many of us know as ‘The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” (ABG). Stemmed from the creative genius of the Stanford University graduate, Issa Rae decided that she was going to take this interest of hers and turn it into something– Something that folks can enjoy and relate to, as well as being ridiculously funny. She started with “Dorm Diaries”, which she created during her final year at Stanford. Once it hit YouTube and other college campuses got wind of it, it was a pretty good look into Issa’s future. Next step would be to create something that hit closer to home, that shared a piece of herself with the audience.   Pulled from her some of her real life experiences during her internship at the New York Film Academy, Issa knew exactly how to shed light on some of the silly moments that surround being “awkward”.  What is more awkward than, well, being awkward? Being awkward and black. This is how ABG was brainstormed.

If you have ever had a conversation with Issa, you know that she is a little bit of what you see in her character “J”. She’s shy (sometimes..emphasis on sometimes), has a silly sense of humor, very intelligent, great smile, just an overall amazing person. What you may not see is her candor or her extreme faith in her audience and herself. Issa is a champion. Some of you may remember her Kickstarter campaign where she and her team were able (through the help of her loyal fans) to raise over $50,000 in just 30 days. The contributions from her fans were enough to support the continued production of ABG ,as well as other projects, buy new equipment, and create the stories that we all share and love daily through her creativity.  Through this effort, and the support of viewers, ABG won the prestigious Shorty Award for Outstanding Web Series. Of course, with much reward, comes much “hate” (I don’t like that word at all but it fits!). Nevertheless, Issa and the ABG crew have been able to press forward and do what they do best–make people laugh.

I had the pleasure of sitting with this beatiful gem during her time in NYC. She was wrapping up her college tour at Columbia University, speaking with students about ABG and what the plans are for the next season. So over some really good, I mean GOOD, cupcakes and coffee at Billy’s Bakery in Chelsea, we talked…and laughed…and talked…and laughed.

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Issa Rae is a powerful young lady. I’m not just saying that because she’s another black woman making it in America. For her, and for those of us who truly adore her work, there is an understanding this is more than just race. She represents all of us. She’s a successful, under 30, young person who turned her curiosity into an enterprise. Congratulations to Issa Rae and the ABG team on all of their success. She’s  is definitely one you should get to know.