Just a decade ago, Issa Rae was beginning to take her filmmaking and insatiable hunger for dynamic Black storytelling more seriously with the launch of her comedy web series, Awkward Black Girl. In 2021, Rae has accomplished many of her lifelong aspirations and these sentiments were shown in the vision board she created for herself 7 years ago.
“In 2013, the vision board I created was treated more like a time capsule, where I put it away and recently unpacked it, which ended up feeling way more affirming for myself and my career,” Rae tells ESSENCE.
Issa Rae’s vision board is a mere physical manifestation and testament to how far she has come as she alternates between her many professional hats as an actress, writer, and television & film producer. Recently, the renaissance woman publicly announced the ending of her critically-acclaimed HBO series, Insecure. Similar to ABG, the series has provided a safe space for Black women to feel vulnerably seen and heard, while playing out the most intimate—yet hilariously candid—scenes that showcase the intricacies within Black love and friendship. In between her filming schedule for the dramedy’s 5th and final season, she reflects: “I am so grateful to play a small part in reflecting Black people’s experiences on screen in a (hopefully) beautiful way.”
The Inglewood native continuously pays tribute to her upbringing through the various Black-owned locations where Insecure takes place; most of the filming locations are common places Rae visited growing up in the area. Now, the multi-hyphenate has taken on another venture outside of the writing room by partnering with Sienna Natural’s founder, Hannah Diop, to collaborate on an extensive textured haircare line that is meant to open up the hair conversation between Black women alike and make haircare less intimidating and more inclusive.
“The foundation of Sienna Naturals is taking care of you. For me, I want to be able to help Black women feel represented and most importantly, their hair be left healthier,” Issa Rae proudly states. “My hair is so closely aligned with who I am; it is part of my identity and part of my insecurity and I want to bring products to the market that will help others learn how to maintain their hair.”
In 2021, both Black History Month and Women’s History Month have been celebrated and acknowledged with appreciation on a more widespread level, namely in response to the unjust police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as a multitude of other social issues fueled by white supremacy that reached a boiling point in 2020. For her part in contributing to the fight for economic equality, Issa Rae is urging Americans to shift consumer culture by seeking out Black-owned product alternatives through supporting Black entrepreneurs.
“We have built this country and we don’t see the benefits of that at all,” says Rae. “For Black economic prosperity and generational finances, it is important to consider Black-owned businesses, not just by word-of-mouth but through benefiting off of dollars from people of all colors.”
Issa Rae curated a shopping guide for ESSENCE of her favorite 10 businesses that are either Black-owned or Black-founded.