It’s hard to keep up with Issa Rae. One minute she’s exploring the nuances of the latest trap beat lyrics on Ratchet Piece Theatre, the next minute she’s launching a new YouTube series and smiling with Oprah on Instagram. A woman of many talents is too simplistic a term. An awkward woman of many talents? A bit better, but still, not quite inclusive of everything the writer-producer-director embodies.
Rae’s willingness to share her quirky side continues to be refreshing in an industry where authenticity can sometimes get buried. With the launch of her web series Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl in 2011, Rae reminded viewers that it’s okay to not always have a punch line that will land, to be outlandish and out of place. She reminded us that it’s okay to just be ourselves. Rae will give another glimpse into her life with her new memoir, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which will be released February 10. ESSENCE.com chatted with Rae about becoming an author and what she’s working on next.
ESSENCE.com: What inspired you to write a memoir?
I was inspired to write a collection of essays after reading Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Then I was approached with doing something similar, and read Tina Fey’s book, Sarah Silverman’s book, Chelsea Handler’s, and was like, ‘Ok, maybe I got this.’ Then I read Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake, and I was like, ‘Nope I can’t do this. But thank goodness for Stephen King’s On Writing, to make me feel like I could again.
What is one of the most awkward experiences you’ve had?
The most awkward experience I’ve ever head was definitely a family affair. And that was walking in late to the wrong funeral, sitting down, and then realizing five minutes later that we had to get back up and leave. Nothing has beat that yet. Some of the death stares we got (no pun intended) still haunt my soul.
What does a day in the life of Issa Rae look like?
It’s never the same. Some days, I wake up, knowing I get to write and create all day. Other days are filled with meetings, or shooting. I try to alternate between creative days and business days. All of that is entirely messed up, of course when I have to travel.
Is “ABG” coming back? What other projects do you have in the works?
ABG will come back when it’s good. Right now, I’d rather focus on other projects. I’m working on Insecure, my show with HBO. I’m working on my talk show with ASPIRE, “Exhale.” I’m writing a movie and working on my new independent pilot initiative, ColorCreative.TV. I’m also promoting my book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.
You recently posted a photo with Oprah. Can you share what project you might be working on with her?
I can’t share too much, but there was interest in one of my projects, and about working together on a larger front. Whether that happens or not, I’m just happy that I got a picture, and am now validated in the eyes of all of my aunties, GLOBALLY.
What advice do you have for fellow awkward Black girls?
Embrace it. Don’t deny it! When you try to deny that you’re awkward, things get worse. Just understand who you are and make it work for you.
Can you bust a freestyle about your memoir?
Unh! I wrote a book
Unh! Take a look
You might liiiiike iiiit
Don’t fiiiiiiight iiiiit
It’s in stores
Put it on your credit cord
Then buy it for a friend
Or with your granny’s Depends.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl will be released February 10.