Issa Rae Issa Rae

VIBE Gets To Know The Creator Of YouTube's Hit "Awkward Black Girl"

It’s easy to see why the Internets has fallen in love with Issa Rae’s popular web series, The Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. The protagonist is human, flawed and devoid of trite stereotypes typical of Black female characters. She is the type of woman who can rock to Lil Jon or Luke but also Kings of Leon. Her boss is annoying, her co-workers are bizarre and all she really wants is to find love and be happy. It’s a simple concept yet brilliantly constructed as the show’s writing inspires laughs without trying too hard, and reminds even the coolest person that there is a little gawky behavior in all of us.

VIBE caught up with series creator Issa Rae, and found out that she isn’t as awkward as her show’s heroine. The Stanford University, UCLA and New York Film Academy graduate grew up in Senegal, Maryland and LA with a family who encouraged writing and art from an early age. Siting Christopher Jess, Wes Anderson, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Tina Fey as influences, Issa Rae is hopeful that her series, which now has over one million YouTube views, will see the light of cable TV. Get familiar. --Starrene Rhett

People are buzzing about the series quite a bit so you must be coming TV soon, right?

Yeah, word is getting around fast. I have representation, like an agent or manager, and that team is working to try to get it on TV. As we speak, I’m writing to make it a 30-minute show and see who will take it. But I can’t reveal too much about that yet.

Ideally, what network would you want this to come on?

I definitely want a cable network to pick it up because I’m partial to cursing [laughs]. I don’t want to have to tone a lot of things down so any cable network would be great for me.

Do you write everything yourself?

Up until episode five I was writing everything myself, but with episode six I had two co-writers on there and they did an amazing job. I’m really open to other people’s ideas. It’s cool to see people write in my vision and write for this character. That’s something that’s never happened before so I’m really open to that.

Where do you see ‘Awkward Black Girl’ fitting into the TV landscape?

I definitely feel like everybody has these awkward moments so that in itself is universal. And I think that just because the show is titled Awkward Black Girl and it is a predominately Black cast doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to relate to these people. We’re all human beings. We all essentially go through the same things when it comes down to it, so I don’t I think that should limit who watches it. The show and the concept should be mainstream but I don’t know that Hollywood is ready to accept an entire Black cast or a predominately multicultural cast as mainstream and that’s where my problem is. That’s why I feel like it’s poppin’ on YouTube, but I’m not completely sure how it will end up TV or if people will respond to it the same way. So that’s part of the problem. I don’t know if it will stay on the Internet where it can spread through word of mouth or go on TV where I might be limited to a certain audience because people are afraid to watch [an all Black cast].

You mentioned that you’re working on getting it on TV but have you gotten any cool celebrity cosigns?

Tracie Thoms hit me up about it and that was cool. Kim Coles hit me up about it too. There’s a couple of celebrities who have seen it and contacted me about it; Erika Alexander from Living Single, that was cool. But as far as producer or writers, not yet, but I would love that. I have heard that it’s circulating around the industry, though.

Your humor works because it’s just universally funny. There’s no preachy messages or pretense and it doesn’t wreak of trying too hard, which tends to be an issue with so-called “Black” comedy. It’s like, Tyler Perry is one extreme and then the Spike Lee is another extreme. But you still leave out a whole group of people who might be Black but not all about being beat in the head with overused epithets of our culture. Why do you think those people get left out?

I completely agree with you. I don’t know exactly why that is the case. There’s a catch 22. That’s the content that comes out, and a lot of Black people are like ‘this is a movie for Black people starring Black people and we have to support it ‘cause if we don’t we’re not gonna get another movie.’ But at the same time, supporting that kind of humor, they’re gonna keep on releasing that same type of humor.So I think that by supporting it, we’re kind of accepting it and it’s not gonna go anywhere if we don’t produce other kinds of content or humor. That humor is just so tired. I hate to say it but I hate Black humor. I feel like a Klan member saying it but it’s just not funny.

I’m with you on that! But what would you like to accomplish in your career as a writer and director...

 

(Continue reading the exclusive interview at VIBE...)

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Kelly Rowland Says Her Highly-Anticipated Project Is "Definitely Coming"

Six years ago, Kelly Rowland released her fourth studio album titled Talk a Good Game. The project boasted hit singles like "Kisses Down Low" and the transparent "Dirty Laundry." Now, the Houston native is preparing to release a project that'll surely satisfy fans' patient earbuds.

In an interview with Billboard, Rowland shared her hopes for putting out a new body of work and the pressure that she's encountered since she's been in the studio. "This is by far the longest, most pressure-filled process ever, only because I know what it's supposed to be and I have been so hard on myself. I know it," she said. "And it's the first time I've said it out loud. I've been extremely hard on myself. But it's definitely coming, and I'm more so excited about this project than anything else."

The news follows the recent release of Rowland's "Kelly" track, which was met with critical acclaim in November 2018. In addition to preparing the release of new music, the "Motivation" singer discussed fans' wish for a Destiny's Child reunion. The rumors have been fueled by social media photographs of Rowland with either Beyonce or Michelle or all three, especially during Beyonce's past Coachella performance. But Rowland assures readers that it's not what they think.

"It's so funny. I guess every time people see us together, they just see music but I see sisterhood, and that's what we are and that's what me, her, Michelle [Williams] and Solange and I are. People see us all together, they immediately think music. I'm like, no. Just family." As Rowland previously mentioned Solange, she hopes to one day work with her again.

"I'm a huge fan," she said. "I love her writing and how detailed and particular she is. I always wanted to figure out how the heck she has so many different layers of harmonies when she is constructing these vocals, and it's so complex but simple. It's genius. It's the genius in her genius mind that she has in there." One of the last times the pair collaborated was on Rowland's "Simply Deep" track off her debut solo album of the same name. Solange also penned a few songs off the same project. Fast forward to 2016, and Rowland's vocals were featured on Solange's iconic A Seat at the Table.

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Teyana Taylor To Pay Homage To Ballroom Culture In "WTP" Video

Teyana Taylor aims to keep her hot streak of innovative videos coming thanks to this recent announcement. Taking to Instagram on Wednesday (Jan. 9), the "Gonna Love Me" singer will show adoration to ballroom culture in the visual for "WTP."

Directed by Gregory "Beef" Jones, The Aunties Inc., and Taylor herself, the Harlemite takes viewers on her journey to the expression-filled space where she hopes to rack up 10s across the board from a group of judges. The premise of the video also seems to follow a mockumentary format airing on a fictional network named FEMTV. Alongside Taylor, other men and women get ready to display their talents and confidence on the ballroom floor.

"WTP" is featured on the mother-of-one's sophomore album, K.T.S.E., which was released in June 2018. While the rollout's controversy didn't entirely muddle the excitement behind the project's debut, Taylor said she was sold on the idea that her album would be treated as the biggest out of G.O.O.D. Music's string of releases last year.

"I didn't know ahead of time that there wouldn't be any singles or visuals. But I knew that it was going to be the five-album thing," she said during a HOT 97 interview. "[Kanye] wanted [my album] to be last, he wanted mine to be the biggest. That's the way they sauced it up. I was sold."

The video will debut on Jan. 19. Check out the teaser below.

 

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👀 1.19.19 👀 #WTP Directed by @teyanataylor & @ogbeefjones @theauntiesinc 🙏🏾🙌🏾🙏🏾 The wait is ALMOST over. 😏 @museumofsex

A post shared by Jimmy Neutch- Shumpert (@teyanataylor) on Jan 8, 2019 at 6:32pm PST

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Trina Braxton’s Ex-Husband, Gabe Solis, Dies After Battle With Cancer

Gabe Solis, the ex-husband of Trina Braxton, lost his battle with cancer, Thursday (Dec. 20),  TMZ reports. He was 43.

Solis passed away at his home in Texas, surrounded by friends and family, according to the outlet. No official details have been released about his passing.

Solis had reportedly been keeping his cancer battle private. His death came as a shock to his loved ones. On Friday (Dec. 21), Braxton seemingly mourned the loss of her ex-husband with a cryptic Instagram meme reading, “I need a hug..E bottle of wine.”

The former couple tied the knot in 2003, and appeared together on previous seasons of WEtv’s Braxton Family Values. Despite finalizing their divorce in 2015, Braxton and Solis confronted lingering issues from their marriage during an episode of Iyanla: Fix My Life, earlier in the year.

Braxton has since moved on to a new relationship, but remained friends with Solis.

 

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A post shared by Trina Braxton (@trinabraxton1) on Dec 21, 2018 at 9:49am PST

READ MORE: Phaedra Parks To Join 'Braxton Family Values' Cast

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