Loading...
How to Succeed on YouTube

Issa Rae and Awkward Black Girl Fill a (Tiny) Niche

Comments (0)

By

Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 3:11 PM
click to enlarge Issa Rae - W.B. FONTENOT
  • W.B. Fontenot
  • Issa Rae

Check out our entire YouTube issue here.

In front of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at the Grove, someone is scraping lightweight plastic chairs across the pavement instead of picking them up, and the sound is akin to fingernails being dragged down a chalkboard. Issa Rae, the 27-year-old writer, director and star of the web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, continues to talk as if nothing is happening.

The scene feels plucked out of ABG, as the show's fans affectionately call it. Spurred by the absence of characters in TV and film like her -- normal, slightly nerdy black girls dealing passive-aggressively with awkward situations -- Rae created a series about J., a 20-something who works at a call center for a weight-loss pill company. One of the funnier first-season episodes revolves around J.'s first date with a white dude who (cringe) takes her to a soul food restaurant and spoken-word night.

ABG began its run on YouTube in February. Broke midway through, Rae and her production partner, Tracy Oliver, launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the second half of the season. Their goal was $30,000. By their deadline, they'd received almost double that.

Episode one of season two of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which premiered June 14 on its new home, Pharrell Williams' I Am Other YouTube channel.

A happy side effect of that campaign was a healthy boost to the show's profile. Pharrell Williams, musician and member of production duo The Neptunes, cherry-picked ABG for his I Am Other YouTube channel (devoted to "thinkers, outcasts and innovators"), and its second season premiered on June 14.

"It's refreshing when people of all races say they don't see an awkward black girl, they just relate to who she is," Rae says.

Rae, the daughter of an African-American mother and a Senegalese father, grew up in Los Angeles, Potomac, Md., and Senegal. In her last year at Stanford, she filmed a web series about her group of friends. She'd also written a script, Naima, that was a semifinalist at Sundance, but being 19 and "cocky," she balked at the notes she was given and instead took solace in the web.

Up next: Rae's vicious commenters

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • Cowabunga! 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    The COWABUNGA! - 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tribute show opened Friday night at Iam8bit. Guests donned their beloved turtle graphic tees, onesies and a couple April O'Neils were there to report on all the mean, green, fighting machine action. Artist included Jude Buffum, Tony Mora, Nan Lawson, leesasaur, Jim Rucc, Mitch Ansara, Guin Thompson, Stratman, Gabe Swarr, Joseph Harmon, Alex Solis, Allison Hoffman, Jose Emroca Flores, Jack Teagle and more. All photos by Shannon Cottrell.
  • 21st Annual Classic Cars "Cruise Night" in Glendale
    On Saturday, spectators of all ages were out in multitudes on a beautiful summer night in Glendale to celebrate the 21st annual Cruise Night. Brand Boulevard, one of the main streets through downtown Glendale, was closed to traffic and lined with over 250 classic, pre-1979 cars. There was plenty of food to be had and many of the businesses on Brand stayed open late for the festivities The evening ended with fireworks and a 50th anniversary concert from The Kingsmen, who performed their ultimate party hit, "Louie, Louie." All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • Moonlight Rollerway Jubilee and Skate Party!
    Ambassador of Americana Charles Phoenix and Dominic's Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale hosted a jubilee featuring skating stars and world champions performing in a variety of costumed musical acts. The best part? An post-show all-skate party! All photos by Star Foreman.