I couldn’t let the series finale of HBO’s Insecure air without sharing my two cents on what has been an impactful experience for me. If you followed this blog for a while, you know the show’s character Molly Carter (played by Yvonne Orji) was my girl. She embodied my journey as a successful professional Black woman from a two-parent household who struggled romantically and internalized her status as an unmarried woman. While this wasn’t a new storyline, it was wrapped in a sea of representation we haven’t seen in years (if ever). Insecure made a lot of us, from various walks of life, feel understood and appreciated, and this was only possible because one woman, Issa Rae, dared to live unapologetically. Today, she will be celebrated.
Here are 3 reasons we salute Issa Rae:
#1: For using what she had
When starting out, especially in business, it can be intimidating to think about everything you don’t have from a professional camera to a website. However, in the beginning, Issa started with what she did have. She found people around her and used YouTube as a free platform to showcase her own web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. I’ve heard Issa reference a quote in an interview where she said, “We have a tendency to try to network up, when we need to network across.” When we’re starting out, we don’t need Oprah, Tyler Perry, or Ava DuVernay to approve our work, and we don’t need to have the perfect website, flawless IG page, or top quality video. We need to use what we have, meaning the tools and people around us, to consistently present authentic, quality content.
Thank you, Issa, for reminding us we can only build an empire one brick at a time. It doesn’t have to be perfect in the beginning, but it does have to get started. We can give ourselves grace to grow overtime.
#2: For staying grounded in who she is
Within our community, there’s always been conversation about “what makes you Black.” If you spoke too properly, watched anime, listened to white music or had too much privilege you would easily be outcasted. What I appreciate about Issa as a person and character, is that she owns her individuality. She reminds us that Black people aren’t a monolith. Issa owned her awkwardness and Blackness, put them on display and didn’t lose sight of her roots as her success grew.
I recently saw an IG post where Issa stated she was happy she gained success in her early thirties because by that time she knew who she was and understood that who she presented was not all that she is. What isn’t seen on the other side of success and business is the need to be fully clear in who you are as a person. Without this, one can easily find their identity and value in ratings, accomplishments, likes, and other outside sources, all of which are fickle. Identity and self-worth can only come from within, and it takes groundedness to remain true to this as your popularity and influence grow.
#3: For putting other people on
Insecure presented Black people with a diverse range of talents, backgrounds, shades, sizes, and more. On the screen and in real life, Issa gave voice to those who felt outcast and opportunity to those who would likely be overlooked. In the special HBO documentary called Insecure: The End, we get a glimpse of how many people, from set drivers to actors, gained a shot because Issa and her team prioritized opening doors for other Black people.
Too often we are fed the idea that only select people can be successful. On the contrary, greatness exists in everyone and is often waiting to be pulled out. If nothing else, Issa and her Insecure journey prove we are all created with unique traits, talents, and abilities that, when fully understood and used properly, can be tapped into to make the world around you better. That is true success.
Thank you, Issa, for keeping it real, for being focused in your messaging, for walking in who you were created to be, and for truly rooting for everybody Black.