In an interview with Essence about fame, insecurity, weight and learning to accept her “otherness,” Issa Rae is showing that she’s still fierce after three complete seasons of her hit HBO show Insecure and is ready to tackle new projects
In the interview Rae, 34, comes across as anything but insecure. But she showed her skill at turning negativity thrown her way to her advantage.
She recounted a story to the magazine for its April cover story about reading a backhanded compliment directed at her on Twitter that gave her an epiphany. She said it all went down while she was in New Orleans filming the romantic comedy, The Lovebirds.
“In my mind I’m just like, I’ve got to lose weight. I’ve been wanting to lose weight all these years, and I’ve been basically pussyfooting. I really need to step it up. The TV show gave me an excuse. You start to become more cognizant of your appearance,” Issa Rae dished to Essence. “But I realized the response to that changed recently. Because I was looking through tweets maybe a couple of months ago, and these girls were shading me but backhand-complimenting me about how wack I was. And one of the tweets was, ‘And that stupid b*tch! If I looked like her, then I would never feel insecure.’ And I was like, What?!”
Since getting her start in the viral web series, The Mis-Adventures of an Awkward Black Girl, she has since gone on to become one of the new faces of CoverGirl. She also has an upcoming movie (Little) hitting theaters on April 12, where she plays the hilarious guardian of a miniature CEO.
She tells Essence that this year she’s focusing on the version of herself from years past that didn’t get the love that she’s getting today.
“At the core of it, Issa is still who she always was,” says Prentice Penny, showrunner for Insecure told Essence. “And in terms of the imagery of a chocolate sister with natural hair being unapologetic about her look, unapologetic about the clothes she wears, unapologetic about her sexuality, I think that is still not the norm.”
Using that as motivation, Rae took her real-life relationship rejections and funneled them into comedy gold on her web series and in her acting on HBO and the big screen.
“When you don’t have much to do or you don’t have plans on Friday night, you’re making up a character who does,” Rae told Essence. “That was an outlet for me. I fantasized all the time about having a different life. And that manifested in creating characters and worlds and scenarios. I’ve definitely let my imagination run free.”