Issa Rae Just Had Roles In Barbie And American Fiction. Even She Says She’s Been ‘Impacted’ By The Hollywood Slowdown

Representation should always be something Hollywood strives for. But the most important part of providing that is giving creators the space to tell their own stories, instead of trying to do it for them. That’s why events like the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) are essential because while it creates a space to amplify Black stories. And it was during this year’s event that Barbie and American Fiction star Issa Rae shared her experiences. She also got honest about how she, like so many others, has been “impacted” by the industry’s recent slowdown.

This year’s ABFF took place this past weekend, June 12-16, in Miami, and the festival offered the opportunity for Black filmmakers to talk openly about the current challenges they are facing in the film industry. Some may be surprised to hear that despite her her roles in some of the most lauded films of the past year, Issa Rae has experienced a career lull. She’s also specifically seen the effects through her own media production company, Hoorae Media. Of course, Hollywood has yet to pick up the pace following the SAG-AFTRA and Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) strikes  that took place last summer. As the Insecure co-creator recently told The Los Angeles Times, it’s a delicate balance between what the industry wants to see and the stories creatives want to tell:

It’s impacted me in the sense that you have to be more cognizant about how they’re thinking things will sell. They’re trying to create projects that have the most broad appeal and since we’re a very adaptable company, we’re putting ourselves in that mind-set. I also have to consider: What do I want to make? And who do I want to collaborate with to make that possible? It’s just a constant game. It’s hard, it’s challenging, but we’ll make it through.

These are some keen thoughts from the acclaimed actress, writer and producer. And her advice for other filmmakers also struggling with the slowdown? Utilize new media outlets, like TikTok and Instagram Reels, to showcase your work if no one will take you on. The tools to get projects noticed are right at our fingertips these days, especially with viral sharing culture more prominent than ever. And this is coming from someone who succeeded in launching a web series back in 2011 called Awkward Black Girl, so you know these aren’t just empty words of advice.

Issa Rae has long been a leader for Black female representation in Hollywood, mostly within the realm of comedy. But she has demonstrated her range countless times with projects like Netflix’s rom-com The Lovebirds, to the acclaimed adaptation of Angie Thomas’s bestseller The Hate U Give and a personal favorite, Drake’s “Nice For What” music video (it’s such a fun video staring some of the industry’s best badass women). While it’s a shame that she’s seen a slowdown in her career as of late, one would think that with her abilities and reputation, she’ll be booked and busy again soon.

I also can’t think of anyone better to facilitate discussion on the current state of diversity and representation in Hollywood as the director of this year’s ABFF. The actress has show that she’s incredibly down-to-earth, funny, hard-working and unafraid to speak up when she feels industry professionals and the media are lacking. We could use more people that are honest about the industry, in my humble opinion. So whatever Issa Rae creates or speaks on next, you know I’m ready to give her my attention. 

While you wait to see what she does next, you can check out her performance in Barbie by streaming the film with a Max subscription. Also, Prime Video subscribers can see her work in American Fiction.

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