Issa Rae is calling out prejudice in the entertainment industry.
The Insecure creator and star was profiled by Porter to discuss her new movie American Fiction, which takes aim at the hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness of white audiences consuming Black entertainment. Rae observed alarming trends occurring behind the scenes in Hollywood that reflect the dynamics in the movie. “You’re seeing so many Black shows get canceled, you’re seeing so many executives — especially on the DEI side — get canned,” Rae said. “You’re seeing very clearly now that our stories are less of a priority.”
Rae doesn’t have a particularly hopeful view of the future of the industry, in part because her series Rap Sh!t was canceled at Max after two seasons. “I am pessimistic, because there’s no one holding anybody accountable — and I can, sure, but also at what cost? I can’t force you to make my stuff,” she said. “It’s made me take more steps to try to be independent down the line if I have to.”
However, that’s not affecting Rae’s enthusiasm for her work. “I’m writing a couple of different projects — one for myself and one to produce and create with others — and I’ve been feeling so inspired and excited to get back at it,” she explained. “I’m embracing that challenge. The industry is in flux, so it’s really inspired me to focus and hone in on what stories I want to tell. I’ve been laser-focused on getting these projects up and running.”
Rae said that she ultimately agrees with her character Sintara’s assertion that “ire should be directed towards the white audiences that put very specific work about Black people on this pedestal, as opposed to more diverse representations of Blackness. I don’t think it’s a secret that many white audiences and critics tend to reward traumatizing depictions, or their own biased perceptions of what Blackness is. It’s frustrating.”
Rae was in three movies last year — American Fiction, Barbie, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. All three of these projects were nominated for Academy Awards last week.
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