Issa Rae was told to include a white character in TV shows


Clearly one of Issa Rae’s colleagues was feeling a little “Insecure.”

Rae, 36, revealed Thursday that a former co-worker once told her to always include a white character in her TV shows if she wanted them to “blow up” and become popular.

The actress — who is best known for co-creating and starring in HBO’s “Insecure” — told Mic that she had the candid conversation with the colleague a decade ago, just as she began working on her YouTube series “Awkward Black Girl.”

“From the jump in creating the show, it was put in my mind that you had to have a white character to be a bridge, and for people to care, for it to get awards, for it to be considered worthy of the television canon,” she said.

According to Rae, the colleague stated: “Girl, if you want this s–t to set off to the next level, you got to put a white character in there, then white people will care about it, then NPR is going to write about your s–t and it’ll blow up.”

Rae said she heeded the advice and added a white character to the cast of “Awkward Black Girl” before it was released in 2011.

Sure enough, the series became a bonafide hit and set Rae on the road to national stardom.

The actress repeated the move when she co-created “Insecure” in 2016, bringing white actress Lisa Joyce on board to play the character of Freida.

Rae brought in white actress Lisa Joyce to play the character of Freida on "Insecure"
Rae brought in white actress Lisa Joyce to play the character of Freida on “Insecure”
Anne Marie Fox/HBO

Joyce played a co-worker of the show’s main character, Issa, but was written out of the series at the end of Season 3 when Issa quit her job.

Rae told Mic that she then “started actively resisting” the temptation to include another white character in the show.

“I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, our show is just about black characters now in the most refreshing way.””

Meanwhile, “Insecure” is set to return for its fifth and final season on Oct. 24, with Rae recently announcing the news on Instagram.

“[Showrunner] Prentice Penny and I are so grateful that HBO believed in our show from the beginning and kept faith in us to see our vision through the end. We always planned to tell this story through five seasons, but we couldn’t have made it this far without the tremendous support of our audience,” Rae told Deadline in an interview early this year.

“I feel blessed beyond measure to bring our characters’ stories to an end, on-screen at least.”





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