Issa Rae on HBO’s ‘Insecure’: ‘Started From YouTube, Now We Here’

Mannie Holmes

“Started from YouTube, now we here!” Issa Rae boasted Thursday night in Los Angeles. A woman of many jokes, Rae had the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center auditorium filled with laughter at the premiere of her HBO series “Insecure.”

The writer, creator, and star of the comedy was praised at the screening by her family and friends — many of whom star in the show alongside her. “They’re all just so dear to me and a lot of the reason [why] I’m here,” said Rae, who’s behind the “Awkward Black Girl” web series, looking around on the pink carpet. “Everyone is super talented and so hungry for it.”

Even Casey Bloys, HBO’s president of programming, credited the former web star for bringing her vision and fresh talent to the network.

“We always knew that Issa was special, but this show confirms that Issa is a star,” Bloys said before introducing the comedy. “I think we all know how hard it is in this business to break through and for a show where three people broke through creatively, I think it’s really special and I hope they stick around to make many seasons of the show,” he said about showrunner Prentice Penny, director Melina Matsoukas and Rae.

The series follows a millennial’s journey through life in south Los Angeles as she balances dating, being the only African American in her workplace, and building confidence, alongside her best friend (played by Yvonne Orji).

“There are universal things that we talk about, everyone’s had a job that they loathe and try to navigate those waters,” Orji said. “Everyone has had a job where they’ve been the only black person, woman, man, [you] name it. Everyone’s been single thinking that it’s never going to happen for me.”

Penny says the show is relatable, despite Issa’s distinct voice on the modern-day African American woman’s experience living in South L.A.

“You can get caught up about what they tell you is going to sell or not going to sell and you can forget to just be honest to you and to tell honest and truthful stories — that was always paramount for us in the writer’s room,” he said. “Hopefully that will continue to translate.”

“Insecure” premieres Sunday on HBO.

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