If there’s one thing Issa Rae demands of her hit HBO comedy, Insecure, it’s authenticity. From the inclusive crew behind the scenes to choosing to shoot the majority of the series in South Los Angeles and Inglewood, the result feels less like a TV show and more like life. “We’re just drawing from real experiences,” Rae, the show’s co-creator, told ESSENCE in the September Fashion Issue, on newsstands August 24. “This season has felt like we’re really on the pulse of what’s happening now.” Though the episodes always spark intense Twitter debates, Rae says she doesn’t troll the platform for material.
“I don’t mind any social media to create the show,” she added. “I really just want it to feel as authentic and as true as possible.” Another reality check for Rae: Having a diverse and inclusive set. For the last three years, she and co-executive producer and show runner Prentice Penny have hired women in key roles, including writer-and-actor Natasha Rothwell, who play’s Issa’s scene-stealing friend Kelli; producer Amy Aniobi; and costume designer Shiona Turini. Before joining Insecure as a producer, Aniobi wrote for HBO’s Silicon Valley and developed her own web series, Lisa and Amy Are Black. But she says working on Insecure means the most. “I literally almost cried because I was counting the women and I was like, there are so many women on this set,” she says.

Lisa Rose/HBO

The show even has a mandate to cultivate an unapologetically Black style for the characters. “One thing that’s really important is making sure we include Black designers,” says newly minted costume designer Turini. “Issa, Molly, and the rest of the characters already have a really defined sense of style, but we had this fun challenge to elevate it, change it, and twist it as the plot thickets with certain aspects of their roles.” That said, Rothwell has a warning for fans about season three, premiering Sunday: “Y’all ain’t ready.”


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