Ebony magazine and HBO stopped by Howard University’s Armour J. Blackburn Digital Auditorium for an advanced screening of the upcoming episodes of the HBO series Insecure. In a discussion, creator and star Issa Rae and moderator, Howard alumna Tia Brown talked about the HBCU tour and more. The half-hour comedy series entails the friendship of two black women and their challenges and experiences as they encounter a variety of social and racial issues in Los Angeles.
The episodes engaged Howard students and alumni through the infusion of hip-hop, love, friendship, colloquial language, and relatable contemporary black experiences. Insecure is debuting at a time where new series and movies directed by and about African Americans are abruptly appearing with FX’s Atlanta, Netflix’s Marvel’s Luke Cage and Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, which have all generated positive reviews according to Rotten Tomatoes.
“I wanted to show a much broader range of who we are. I wanted to tap into my own experiences…”
Through the discussion with Brown and Rae, the audience was able to receive an in-depth glimpse of Insecure and Rae’s journey towards the new series. Rae also explained how the program outlines the archetype society has defined for black girls. “I wanted to show a much broader range of who we are,” said Rae. “I wanted to tap into my own experiences. My core is this socially uncomfortable introverted person and I did not get to see that depicted anywhere for black people. White people get to be everything.”
Rae explained that her journey towards Insecure was anything but simple, and “I had to stop making excuses and make the show happen. I kept on giving reasons why I could not do it, but as soon as I got out of my own way, I started making it” said Rae. “There were a lot of discouraging days but I remembered hating every minute of my 9-to-5 job, so I could not imagine doing anything else.”
The show delves into racial issues and the breakdown of it which surprised the audience in regards to how blunt Rae was able to showcase her character’s experience. Rae clarified that comedy is the best way for people to become more receptive to the social issues affecting the African American community. HBO “also wanted to know more of the experiences that affect us and I felt completely free to tell it without it being watered down,” noted Rae.
Rae’s focus on the reality of a young black woman also goes in hand with the naming of the series. “I never felt secure in my own blackness and I wanted my character to reflect that,” she said. “I was always conscious that I did not belong and had the nature of feeling out of place in addition to never feeling stable in a relationship.”
The Howard audience was appreciative of Rae’s debut with their cheers, applause, and laughter throughout the screening and discussion.
Rae’s advice to students starting their own journey was accepted with gratitude and sincerity.