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Inspiring Women: An Interview with Issa Rae of HBO’s ‘Insecure’

If season one of HBO’s Insecure got you addicted, just wait until the network releases season two with a total of ten episodes! Although no one has the exact release date for that as of yet, we do have a few details from our conversation with creator and star Issa Rae. I caught up with the Golden Globe nominated actress recently and I think you’re going to like what she had to say.

If you haven’t watched the original comedy series yet, let me give you a little background. There are a lot of elements that make this show a success, mainly: the writing, the actors, the characters, and the music. The story follows our main character also named Issa, who works at a non-profit benefiting middle school children of color. She seems to love her job but has lost her passion along the way. Throughout her journey, we meet her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji) who she spends a lot of time with. As well as a couple of love interests that spice up the storyline and not always in a good way.

“It shows a regular black girl experience,” Rae explained. “You don’t really get to see us in an unremarkable way. I think there are things that are very much unremarkable but still very relatable. That’s what, for me, makes the show kind of standout. I feel that people can watch and be like, ‘I know that girl’ or ‘I am that girl.’ Since the ‘90s, we haven’t really had varied characters in that same way.”

The storylines and characters are very true-to-life, and as Rae explains, that’s very intentional. She always wanted to make them relatable to anyone watching.

“It’s all happened to real-life people that I know,” Rae said about the situations on the show. “I think, even within the writer’s room, we constantly have conversations and tell stories about our friends. So it makes it easier to tap into who real people are. So literally, if you watch the show, most of what you see is from either my life or another writer’s life. Everybody has either a piece, or a chunk or a morsel of their stories in the show. And we did that intentionally to create a very human story.”

Another element that helps to tell Issa’s story in spectacular fashion is the music. The series composer is none other than Raphael Saadiq, whose name you know from his work with so many artists including Usher, Ed Sheeran, and Jill Scott (to name a few) and for his part in the popular ‘90s group Tony! Toni! Toné!.

“Raphael Saadiq is an amazing composer and I’ve always been a fan of his music,” she said. “He’s just so gracious. He always arrived early and was just ready to work. He was so friendly and just open. So it felt stupid to give him notes, just because he’s a musical genius. For me, I didn’t have the right vocabulary to respond when he’d ask what I was looking for. I’d respond, ‘something hot!’ So he’d  ask me for artist names that I like so I gave him that and he was able to perfectly give me the sound that I wanted for the show.”

When you listen to the soundtrack while watching the series, you’ll notice how the lyrics melt perfectly into the words and situations that are transpiring. Rae credits her musical team for getting it just right.

“That was thanks to our music supervisor and consultant Kier [Lehman] and Solange [Knowles]. We worked with them just to choose specific tracks to tell the story that we wanted to tell. Music was incredibly important to me in telling the story of the show.”

Now I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t watched yet but are sure to catch-up after reading this interview. So here’s a non-spoiler-y teaser for what we can expect from season two:

“We’re picking up where we left off. We’re still continuing to tap into real life but we love dealing in the grey area. A lot of the stories we tell, we don’t really want to make a big statement. I don’t feel like life is a statement. I feel like so many things happen and it’s most of you trying to figure out what to make of that and how to attribute that to how you’re going to grow and evolve as a person. Since this is very specific, a journey-driven show, know that we’re telling a very finite story.”

Insecure is currently available for digital download via iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.


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