• Actress Issa Rae attends Marie Claire's Third Annual Image Makers Awards on January 11, 2018, in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. (Tara Ziemba) (Supplied)Source: Supplied
"There is something to that, too, of just realizing your worth. Also, seeing how little these white people care about asking for more than they’re worth in many cases. You can’t be polite, or tiptoe, or be modest about those things."
By
SBS staff writers

20 Aug 2020 - 2:18 PM  UPDATED 20 Aug 2020 - 2:18 PM

Insecure star Issa Rae has spoken out about telling Black stories, television diversity and leaning in to valuing herself at work in a candid interview with The Hollywood Reporter. 

Rae said she was blown away by the eight Emmy nominations for the HBO show in which she plays a young Standford graduate navigating love and life toggling between living in a working class black neighbourhood and the microaggressions of wider Los Angeles city. 

Rae says the show, which completed its fourth season, worked because it had a mainly black cast and crew with minimal interference from white executives who usually make up television networks. Asked whether the experience would be different if executive rooms reflected the way the world really is, she admitted she'd like to see more diversity in television management. 

"A hundred percent. There’s no question that some of the input that we would get would be different (if executives were diverse). Can HBO improve in terms of their hiring practices? A thousand percent. They’ve got to do it," she told the interviewer.

The actress said an important turning point for her was learning to develop a sense of value and self-worth around her creative contribution, and her most fervent hope was to create a legacy and pipeline for other Black creatives.  

"There is something to that, too, of just realising your worth. Also, seeing how little these white people care about asking for more than they’re worth in many cases. You can’t be polite, or tiptoe, or be modest about those things. You’re seeing these nine-, 10-figure deals out there. I have a great team that also is not afraid to ask for beyond my worth. I have an amazing Black lawyer who is constantly being like, "No, I’m going to get you better." Or, "No, I’m going to make sure. I heard that so-and-so made this, you’re about to make this."

Rae who stars, writes and executive produces Insecure also opened up about making art in the era of #blacklivesmatter, saying that as an artist she was interested in how racism impacts everyday life and relationships. 

"We’re not an after-school special. That’s not how we live life. I don’t wake up like, "Today’s about to be about Black Lives Matter." When you experience racism or sexism, your life doesn’t stop, but it may affect how you talk to your partner that night when you get home or prevent you from doing something else. Those are the moments that I’m more interested in.

Michaela Coel and how creative women of colour are changing the game
"Instead of standing here, wishing for the good ol’ glory days... I’m going to try to be my best; to be transparent; and to play whatever part I can, to help fix this house."