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Issa Rae Says ‘It’s Frustrating’ to See ‘So Many Black Shows Get Canceled’: I May ‘Try to Be Independent Down the Line’

Issa Rae is speaking out on the lack of sustaining diversity onscreen.

The “Insecure” creator, who starred in Oscar-nominated films “Barbie” and “American Fiction” this year, told Net-a-Porter that watching TV executives cancel diverse series proves that stories from Black filmmakers are “less of a priority.”

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“You’re seeing so many Black shows get canceled, you’re seeing so many executives — especially on the DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] side — get canned,” Rae said. “You’re seeing very clearly now that our stories are less of a priority.”

She continued of the industry as a whole, “I am pessimistic, because there’s no one holding anybody accountable — and I can, sure, but also at what cost? I can’t force you to make my stuff. It’s made me take more steps to try to be independent down the line if I have to.”

Rae has an overall deal with WarnerMedia through 2026. Her Max series “Rap Sh!t” was recently canceled after two seasons. The Emmy winner reflected on her early career and the marketing behind series “Insecure” after her breakout viral web show “Awkward Black Girl” led to a relationship with HBO.

“When ‘Insecure’ came out, I was very clear. I was like, ‘This is not a story about all Black women. This is a very specific story,'” Rae said.

She added of connecting to her “American Fiction” character Sinatra, an author accused of being a “sell-out” for catering to racial stereotypes by Jeffrey Wright’s highbrow novelist Monk, saying, “I found [the ‘American Fiction’ script] so relatable, so funny, so perfectly satirical. Because I’ve been [Jeffrey Wright’s character] Monk, and I remember in the ‘Awkward Black Girl’ days — and even prior to that — feeling so enraged about what wasn’t being made, and being mad at who was in the spotlight at the time because I was like, ‘I know we’re so much more than what’s being presented here.’ I recognize that hunger, of just wanting your work to be seen and attacking the wrong targets.”

Rae continued, “I completely understand it and I agree with [Sintara’s] point that [Monk’s] ire should be directed towards the white audiences that put very specific work about Black people on this pedestal, as opposed to more diverse representations of Blackness. I don’t think it’s a secret that many white audiences and critics tend to reward traumatizing depictions, or their own biased perceptions of what Blackness is. It’s frustrating.”

Rae added of “American Fiction” as a whole, “If this were a movie just about that Black family, I don’t know that it would get praised as much as it has been. Those kinds of movies are hard to get made.”

Looking ahead, the filmmaker concluded, “I’ve had faith in the talent I have to captivate a very specific audience – and I think about that audience constantly. […] I’m writing a couple of different projects – one for myself and one to produce and create with others – and I’ve been feeling so inspired and excited to get back at it. The industry is in flux, so it’s really inspired me to focus and hone in on what stories I want to tell. I’ve been laser-focused on getting these projects up and running.”

In 2022, Rae called out the “lazinesss” in Hollywood of supporting diverse storytellers.

“I found that there has been a laziness in the industry,” Rae told Vulture at the time. “Post–George Floyd, I got so many emails from people who were well-intentioned but were like, ‘Hey, I want to do better. Can you tell me some of the people you’ve worked with who you recommend?’ And I was like, ‘Bitch, go find them like I did! I found them! Do the work! Watch their shorts!'”

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