-By Soraya Joseph
Issa Rae is 50% homegirl, 50% Hollywood and 100% #BlackGirlMagic goals. The actress, writer and director of the hit HBO show Insecure is definitely living the life right now. At only 32-years-young, Issa is the face and brains behind one of the hottest scripted shows of 2016, and it’s already been renewed for a new season. On top of that, she has received tons of praise from many of her celebrity peers, all the while remaining humble.
But Issa was no overnight success. As a matter of fact, Insecure is loosely based off Issa’s award-winning web series from 2011, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl (ABG). At the time, the low-budget production consisted mostly of Issa’s close friends as the cast, with Issa herself playing an anti-social introvert named J, who dealt with everything from race issues, to hating her job, to being caught up in a love triangle. Oh, and she constantly rapped too. Sound familiar?
So it was refreshing to see that 5 years later when Issa got promoted from Youtube to HBO that, she’s the same ol’ chick.
Check out five ways Issa remained the same since her fame:
1. She went to Hollywood, and took the homies with her.
Fans of Awkward Black Girl may have noticed a few familiar faces in Insecure. Some of Issa’s original cast-mates, which she once admitted worked for free while filming ABG, also star in Insecure. Ironically enough, actors Tristen Winger and Sujata Day play polar opposites of their Awkward roles in the new HBO show. Tristen now plays Issa’s gangsta neighbor, Thug Yoda, in Insecure, but once played, Baby Voice Darius, in ABG. While Sujata, who once starred as Issa’s right-hand chick, Molly, now playing her mean girl coworker Sarah. Despite the change in role play, it’s cool to see the old crew together. After all, ain’t no fun if the homies can’t get none.
2. She still dresses like an around the way girl.
Whether on your TV screen as Issa Dee or on these streets everyday as Issa Rae, the Southern California girl is all for a casual slay. According to her stylist, Ayanna James, Issa’s style is “extremely basic,” with her go-to look of rocking Chuck Taylor sneakers with everything. “On the show and when I’m dressing her in regular life, I try not to overdo it because that’s not her… I want people to understand who she is. [She is] not just the character on the show.”
3. She still rocks her natural hair on the show.
Issa is so “fro” real! On The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa’s character kicks off the series premiere by executing a big chop after a bad breakup. The casual low cut soon became part of Issa’s signature look on television and in real life. In Insecure, she keeps her natural ’do for most of the show (with the exception of a nice braided style from time to time). It’s refreshing for ABG turned Insecure fans to see that she’s the same ol’ Issa Dee.
4. She is still a fan of her celebrity faves, even though they’re her peers now.
Before she was a fan-favorite herself, Issa was a fan like the rest of us. To this day, Issa will hop on Twitter to congratulate her fellow celebs on all their wins. From Tracee Ellis Ross and Taraji P. Henson, to Ava DuVernay and Denzel Washington, Issa will take selfies and cheer them on like a true Day 1.
5. She’s still “woke,” but now she’s doing something about it
Issa may have graduated from Internet fame to cable TV, but that doesn’t mean she forgot the power of the same internet that made her famous. Last year, Issa, who has never shied away from addressing race issues, hopped on Twitter asking followers to donate to her #AltonSterlingFamily scholarship fund. The crowdfunding was in honor of the late, slain, Alton Sterling. In just 24 hours, Issa’s charitable efforts helped raise over $400,000, and by day five, closed out at a little over $700,000. All funds went to the Alton’s family. Amazing!
See why we love her?
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