Ever since Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl premiered on YouTube in 2011—well before Insecure landed on HBO and became a huge hit in 2016—Issa Rae has been showcasing a different kind of Black women on screen.
Now, she wants to change the way darker-skinned women are portrayed specifically.
In a recent interview with Teen Vogue, Rae said darker-skinned Black women in Hollywood are still relegated to stereotypical roles far too often.
“Dark-skinned women still portray a certain archetype and I want to change that,” she told Teen Vogue at Insecure Fest. “They’re either super strong, emotionless, robotic — or hyper-sexual, and you don’t get the in-between very much.”
On Insecure, Rae is already widening the opportunities for nuanced, complicated roles for darker-skinned Black women, allowing them to showcase a range of human experiences and emotions from being in love and killing it at work, to making mistakes. On Insecure, there’s no one way to be a Black woman, and that’s one reason fans love the show so much.
Yvonne Orji, who plays Molly on the popular HBO series, agrees with Rae’s mission to broaden the scope of how darker-skinned women are seen.
“I want the portrayal of dark-skinned women to evolve in such a way that you see us as multifaceted,” she told Teen Vogue. “We are more than just the sassy friend or the maid. We’re so dynamic. We can be the leads.”
While Hollywood still has a long way to go before darker-skin actors are cast at similar rates and in similar roles as their lighter-skinned counterparts, with projects like Black Panther and Insecure enjoying massive success, it’s clear audiences are hungry for more.