‘Awkward Black Girl’s’ Issa Rae speaks at University of Chicago

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Professor Jacqueline Stewart and Issa Rae – Photo By Eddy “Precise” Lamarre

Issa Rae premiered her hit web series “Awkward Black Girl” in 2011 and has since become a sensation. Her fans came out to hear more about her story and witness the conversation she would have with Jacqueline Stewart, University of Chicago professor of cinema and media studies.

Rae was extremely open and transparent when she discussed her life in middle school and her childhood. She talked about her parents picking up and moving from Los Angeles to Senegal with her family and how it felt being the token American in her classes. Her classmates would look to her for anything having to do with western life. The reason they moved to Senegal from LA was because her parents were concerned about her brother being immersed in the gang culture. Once that concern subsided, they returned to the United States. Rae also touched on her difficulty in embracing who she was as a teen because she felt as though she had to act a certain way in different circles.


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Issa Rae – Photo By Eddy “Precise” Lamarre

“Awkward Black Girl” was a culmination of her work; she produced “Dorm Diaries” while she was studying at Stanford University and was able to generate a following with the help of her friends. Her series “Awkward Black Girl” generated much acclaim and launched her into the world of mainstream television where Shonda Rimes took notice and had a few meetings with her. Those meetings turned into Rae pitching a show titled “I Hate L.A. Dudes.”

Rae touched on her experience with the networks and how she watched her initial vision turn into something that she did not recognize at the end. Rolling out asked Rae how she feels television executives view Black people.  “In my experience, they don’t see us. It’s very bizarre. Some are prejudiced, some of them are not. They are generally not checking for us. There are not very many executives of color and our voices are not necessarily heard.” she said.


After the discussion, Rae took some time to sign books and meet her fans. Be on the lookout for her project coming from HBO in the near future.

Take a look at the gallery below.

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