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‘I Started Actively Resisting’: Issa Rae Says She Was Told to Include a White Character in Her Shows to Move ‘to the Next Level

Issa Rae’s Emmy Award-winning hit show “Insecure” has accumulated a large fan base for several reasons, including its subject matter, cinematography and, not to mention, a highly talented cast of Black actors. 

However, during a recent interview with Mic, the “Photograph” star revealed that she was once told to put white characters in her shows if she wanted to gain success and “then white people will care about it.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 25: Issa Rae attends The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opening Gala at The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on September 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The 36-year-old followed the advice of a fellow colleague, which led to the addition of the white character, White Jay, on her online series “Awkward Black Girl.” In the first season, Jay played Rae’s off-and-on love interest on the show. 

“From the jump in creating the show, it was put in my mind that you had to have a white character to be a bridge, and for people to care, for it to get awards, for it to be considered worthy of the television canon,” Rae explained. 

“She was just like, ‘Girl, if you want this shit to set off to the next level, you got to put a white character in there, then white people will care about it, then NPR is going to write about your shit, and it’ll blow up,’ ” Rae went on. 

The “Little” star said from there on that kind of philosophy stuck with her. However, it soon created an issue for members of the creative team, who seemingly constantly had to worry if the white character in “Insecure”, who was Freida at time, a co-worker at the not-for-profit Rae’s character worked for, had enough screen time. 

Soon after, Rae made the decision to rebel, telling the outlet, “And I was like, ‘F-ck no! This is not a show about Freida!’ ” She added, “That was when I started actively resisting.” 

Her character ultimately quit her job and Rae said, “and we got rid of the We Got Y’all storyline. I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, our show is just about Black characters now in the most refreshing way.’ ”

Rae says she no longer has to deal with those kinds of issues, thanks to her longtime partnership with HBO, home of “Insecure.” “They would always kind of just let us do us, and trusted us in the best way, and for that, I’m spoiled,” she added. 

Rae is now gearing up for her fifth and final season of her hit series “Insecure,” set to premiere on Sunday, Oct. 24 on HBO and HBO Max. 

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