Issa Rae on Supporting Small Businesses and Practicing Self-Care: 'I Allow Myself to Chill and Not Feel Guilty'

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BET Awards 2021 - Arrivals
BET Awards 2021 - Arrivals

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Issa Rae is all about lending a helping hand wherever she can.

The Insecure star, writer, producer and co-creator has built an amazing platform for herself. But what's most important to her is using it to help others succeed as well.

Rae reteamed with American Express as it brought back its Business Class LIVE conference on Wednesday. The 10th annual all-day event, held at the Javits Center in New York City, aims to inspire and support the endeavors of small business owners and leaders.

RELATED: Issa Rae Becomes the First Person to Receive a Key to the City of Inglewood: 'Always Put on for My City'

The free event had in-person panels, workshops and networking — but it also featured a special keynote fireside chat with Rae, which is something she's excited to partake in.

"I just love that AmEx supports small businesses in this way," the actress says. "They've continued to support me and my businesses. Especially in this economic climate, it's so essential to support families."

Rae adds: "A platform like this means everything."

Issa Rae
Issa Rae

Monica Schipper/Getty Images for American Express

The Emmy nominee's interest stems from her genuine love of seeing others get ahead.

"I always approach things as a fan," she explains. "And it comes from a place of just like, I want to see this succeed. It's like hearing a song for the first time and being like, 'Oh, my God. I just can't wait to bump this,' or 'I can't wait to tell everybody about this artist.'"

"That's my approach to literally anything I'm a fan of, businesses included," she continues. "If you eat at a restaurant you like or try a lip gloss that you love, you want to tell your friends like, 'This brand is it.' So in my way, I don't think that I'm putting anybody on. It is more like, I'm just being an evangelist for something that I genuinely love."

Authenticity is key. "I'll never do anything for a check. I will never do anything that I don't believe in. I'll never support anything I don't believe in and sometimes that check can be tempting, but just kind of leading with who I am and what I genuinely love has taken me this far so I won't stray from that," she adds.

Issa Rae
Issa Rae

Monica Schipper/Getty Images for American Express

Rae also speaks from experience as small business owner herself. She co-owns the hair care line Sienna Naturals with Hannah Diop. The company offers clean, vegan hair care products for textured hair.

RELATED: Issa Rae Curates Holiday Bazaar Supporting Black Businesses: 'Ours Have Been Most Affected by the Pandemic'

As for what's next for Sienna Naturals, Rae says: "We're actually trying to expand."

"Right now, we're just really trying to find other partners who believe in the brand. But I'm so proud of where it is, where it's gotten thus far and I still actively use these products every single day."

Despite Rae's busy schedule, the star has learned to prioritize me-time. "I have been having so much fun this year specifically because I intended to," she explains.

"After Insecure ended, literally the night of the finale, I got on a plane and took that whole month off," she reveals. "Since then, I've just been really, really making sure that I have my weekends to allow myself to just chill and do nothing and not feel guilty about it," she adds.

"That matters, you know. Sometimes I would have seven days a week of just work and that can get exhausting, and that's been an essential part of my self-care process. Like, I can take a day off and be lazy."