New York Film Academy Graduate Challenging Stereotypes with Popular New Webseries

September 12, 2011

Issa RaeNYFA Graduate Issa Rae is the creator and star of the youtube series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”

New York Film Academy graduate Issa Rae grew tired of watching stereotypes of people of color on the screen and decided to create her own vision of reality with webseries The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. The web-based show follows J, played by Rae, and her mishaps and successes in work and love. Since the debut was posted in February, the first episode has garnered more than 240,000 hits, with subsequent episodes receiving more than 100,000 hits and 1,000 viewer comments. In addition, nearly 17,000 people are dedicated to the show’s Facebook page. Rae is now packaging the series as a half-hour comedy show for cable.

Susan Fales-Hill, who produced and wrote for the long-running NBC sitcom “A Different World,” called Rae’s work fresh, incisive, and non-stereotypical. Says Fales-Hill, “She is showing an educated, African-American woman leading an integrated life and a professional woman with friends of many different nationalities and backgrounds, and just trying to make her way.”


Issa Rae Editing At TableRae edits at her kitchen table

Says Rae on the production, “I knew if I didn’t shoot it myself it was never going to get done.” Rae began by recruiting friend Andrew Allan James to co-star as her annoying co-worker and admirer. By episode four, actor Tracy Oliver came onboard as a producer and helped pull together a full crew, boosting episode length from 4 minutes to up to 12 minutes. Around episode six, Rae launched an online fundraising campaign for the show and raised $4,000 in the first day. She now has more than $56,000 raised from nearly 2,000 donors.


Issa Rae SmilingRae’s tenacity has paid off – NYFA Grad Rae has since signed with United Talent Agency and 3 Arts Entertainment. In addition to creating her own opportunities, she has created a voice for minorities that are often stereotyped by the media. Rae explains, “I think it sends a message to mainstream media that we don’t have to have these white male and female leads for everybody to relate to them. It’s sort of unfair to think that, so I hope that this show influences future casting decisions just based off what we’ve been able to do so far. “