“I’m awkward and Black.”

Photo credit: IMDb


It only takes one upload on YouTube to birth a star, and on February 3, 2011, Issa Rae’s, better known as “Awkward Black Girl” and star of the hit show “Insecure,” success was born.

With her first episode, “Awkward Black Girl: The Stop Sign,” Rae introduced herself to the audience as “J” and walked us through the awkward antics that she had to go through daily.

Her monthly videos quickly became longer as her fan base grew; her 3 to 5-minute shorts becoming 10 to 15-minute skits.

“It is alarming to be told by black and white people that you didn’t fit the definition of their blackness,” Rae stated during BET’s “Black Girls Rock Highlight: Issa Rae Turns Awkward Black Girl to Black Girl Who Rocks.”

“For me, it meant kind of pushing my own identity to the side to try and fit in.  I didn’t start embracing my awkwardness, honestly, till after college,” Rae continued.

Rae’s popularity soared when HBO NOW premiered “Insecure,” a show created by both Rae and Larry Wilmore.

The show featured Rae as Issa Dee with her friend Molly Carter, played by Yvonne Orji.  According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), the storyline follows the “awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman.”

The show was a major success and has recently been renewed for a third season.

“The HBO door opened and I got an opportunity to tell a very specific story about two black female friends.  To have this show be so well-received and for people to identify with these characters, it feels like such a blessing and so rewarding,” said Rae.

Rae’s 15 minutes of fame did not end there. According to Celebrity Insider’s “Issa Rae: The New Face of Cover Girl,”  Rae has been selected to be an ambassador for Cover Girl.

Serene Hughes, writer of the article, explained why this nomination is well-deserved.

“This is so crucial and essential for a number of reasons, one of which is that awkwardness is rarely celebrated and appreciated.  It’s also a huge deal because she’s breaking the mold of what many perceive a black woman to do and be.”

Hughes continued to glorify Rae, “Her beauty is showcased in an authentic and not often celebrated way that is refreshing and necessary.”

Rae’s comments on the news matched Hughes’s excitement as well.

“Becoming a Cover Girl means a lot because the brand recognizes just how important it is for people to embrace their individuality and express themselves in unique and diverse ways.  This has been a major part of my personal journey, and a message that I want to share with others.”

Tia Bolden, a Savannah State alumna and a Graduate Resident Director at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU), and Nadia Felder, a fourth year Public Relations student at FAMU, were both introduced to Rae through “Insecure”.

Just like Rae, Bolden feels she portrays traits of an awkward black girl.

“I am awkward, but I relate to Issa in the way that I speak to myself through situations and expect the most from myself.”

Felder does not consider herself awkward, but there are antics that she does relate to with Issa’s character in “Insecure.”

“I’m the farthest thing from awkward…Venting to my alter ego in a dirty bathroom mirror is how I relate to Issa, because nobody knows a woman’s thoughts better than herself.  Even if the world doesn’t understand me, I know the woman in my reflection will. Issa Rae, awkward or not, is a genuine representation of most young black women today.”

“Insecure” has opened door ways for new shows that feature black characters who fit society’s definition of “awkward.” Issa Rae has put awkward black girls on the societal map, showing that black girls do not need to meet the standard definition of black womanhood.

Through Rae’s portrayals of diverse characters with her shows she has exposed to society that anyone can find comfort in who they are, even awkward black girls.

“To any young black girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in, I say find the people that fit you because no one is like you and that’s what makes you most valuable.”