Before joining the team at YouTube Nation, I spent a year working for a relatively small magazine dedicated to covering the digital media space. It was your typical underpaid, understaffed, right-out-of-college job, and the only thing that made up for the lack of resources and health insurance was the opportunity it gave me to interview many incredible people changing the YouTube landscape.
Chief among them, and to this day one of my favorite interviews of all time, Issa Rae.
issarae is a writer, director, actress, and producer best known for her web series The Misadventures of Awkward Blackgirl. Since starting her YouTube channel in 2007, Rae has moved through her career with the goal of creating relatable content that realistically represents and entertains women and communities of color. Since wrapping up The Misadventures of Awkward Blackgirl, which won a Shorty Award for best web series in 2012, Rae has found herself more comfortable behind the camera, producing popular series such as First, RoomieLoverFriend, The F Word, Ratchet Theatre, and The Choir. For a look at all these series and more, check out the playlist below.
Since starting her own production company, Rae has given upcoming creators the space and built in audience to produce their own web series that she later airs on her channel. Her work on YouTube gained her a coveted spot on Forbes 30 Most Influential People Under 30 list and the opportunity to work alongside Pharrell Williams, Shonda Rhimes, and Larry Wilmore. Now, alongside fellow award winning producer Deniese Davis, Rae is launching Color Creative TV, an initiative working to create more opportunities for women and minority TV writers to showcase their pilots in the oversaturated, cookie cutter Hollywood industry. Rae and Davis have partnered with Urban World Film Fest for the premiere of Color Creative TV which will include the unveiling of three new comedy pilots written by three different writers.
As a long time fan of Rae, what I find so astounding about her is her ability not only to create entertaining content that breaks Hollywood stereotypes surrounding race and gender, but also her passion for supporting and nurturing creators following in her footsteps. The YouTube ecosystem would not be what it is today without the groundbreaking work of Issa Rae and, yet, I believe this is only the beginning.
So Issa Rae, thank you for inspiring us all to dream a little bigger and achieve all those things people said were impossible. You’re a class act my friend.
Carly Lanning is a YouTube Nation curator and, yesterday, got to dress up as a dinosaur at work. It was the best day ever.