Issa Rae, From Awkward Black Girl to Household Name

September 08, 2011

About a month ago, I was late-night tweeting and saw someone reference "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl." Baited by the catchy name, I followed the link to Episode 6 of Issa Rae's viral web series and was up for another hour and a half watching every single video on her Youtube channel, and literally laughing out loud. How had I not heard of Awkward Black Girl sooner? I tweeted a couple of friends. They already knew about it. I didn't know if I should be mad at them or just carry on surveying others until I found someone else who'd be equally as amused. I did the latter; but not before shooting an email to Issa about her brilliance and requesting an interview. She graciously obliged. And she's so normal {though she'll say awkward} ... No wonder I love her show.   

MVL: The content is so amazingly funny that I find myself relating and, at very same time,
wondering who on earth this happens to. Is your own personal awkwardness what inspired ABG or what?

Issa Rae: Thank you! Some of these moments have happened to me and some of these moments are just my own personal worst nightmares. A lot of these characters are just based on my own personal pet peeves. But J's inner-monologues are definitely based on some of my own thoughts.

MVL: Where else do you find inspiration for the sketches?

Issa Rae: I find inspiration by looking back to my middle school years. Those were the MOST awkward years of my life. I also think back to old jobs I've had, and annoying co-workers. I also just take from my day-to-day interactions with people. Every day brings a new awkward scenario that I just KNOW I have to put in an episode.

MVL: I think most of your fans are like me in that we linger around your site waiting for more and, as ABG fans have proven through the Kickstarter campaign you launched, we’re willing to pay for it. What’s in the works for you besides more from your web series?

Issa Rae: I'm so glad you're lingering around the site! As of now, I'm still working on my other web series, "Fly Guys present The 'F' Word." It's a satire/mockumentary about an L.A.-based hip-hop trio trying to make it in the music industry. We're in our sixth season. Otherwise, I have two feature films in the works with my writing partner, Tracy Oliver (who also produces ABG with me, as well). So, I'm really excited about that.

MVL: What has been the most exciting part of your experience since launching the Awkward Black Girl brand?

Issa Rae: Honestly, just the amazing feedback with people. I can't believe how much it resonates with so many people. Growing up, I've always found my family hilarious. We have a shared sense of humor that I thought was unique to just us, but putting it in the show has proven that so many people appreciate this sense of humor. And I love that. Also, the financial support from Kickstarter has been amazing. Viewers of the show didn't hesitate to support us and that's incredible.

MVL: Who would be your dream guest on an episode?

Issa Rae: Donald Glover. Hands down. I FINALLY got to meet him a couple of days ago and he is the coolest person ever. In life.

MVL: You have a day off –- as in no-work downtime. What do you do?

Issa Rae: Watch trashy reality TV and kick it with my friends!

MVL: Updating your wardrobe: Where do you shop?

Issa Rae: I love H&M. It always knows what I feel like wearing. I also have a new obsession with finding cool T-shirts online.

MVL:  If you had your choice “Hollywood” opp, what would it be?

Issa Rae: I'd love to be a Tina Fey-esque producer/director/writer. To be able to just freely create my own content and put it out there for people to love and laugh at.

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  1. Great interview!! You asked the right questions; ones that I'm sure all of us fans were wondering. Thanks for introducing me to this series, it cracks me up! She is effortlessly funny and equally beautiful, inside and out.


  2. I knew about ABG through Twitter as well. And I find it great how social media is really helping to push this show. The content is very raw and I was listening to one of their interviews I believe in the kickstarter clip, where she wanted to take it mainstream big screen, and my first thought was- awww man, it's going to change.

    So maybe she could do like Tyler Perry and have live plays, because as soon as some other hands get hold to her, the content won't be as raw and it will change.

    Wonderful Interview.

  3. If she goes on a network like Adult Swim {Cartoon Network after hours} or Comedy Central, she will fit right in without one change. The first thing I thought of when I saw the ABG was Reno 911. lol

  4. Oh my, I haven't seen this yet, but now that I think of it I recall a friend referencing her. I think I'm gonna go wander over to youtube now. :)


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