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The Rise of Issa Rae: Why The Awkward Black Girl Became A Cover Girl

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HBO, Issa Rae, black actress, hbo insecure

If we traveled back in time, not even that far, to the year 2011, a little-known show on YouTube called Awkward Black Girl started gaining steam. Soon views were through the roof. If we had told the writer, creator, and star Issa Rae, in those first moments of internet popularity, that she would one day be the face of a global beauty brand, she probably would have told us to quit lying.

HBO, Issa Rae, black actress, hbo insecure


Six years later, it’s an impressive reality.

HBO, Issa Rae, black actress, hbo insecure


Issa Rae has had one hell of a year, and she’s showing zero signs of slowing down. Just two days after the second season of her wildly popular and critically acclaimed HBO show “Insecure” aired its finale, she took to Instagram to reveal that she will be the new face of Cover Girl.

Chocolate girls getting major beauty campaigns is already practically unheard of. Add to that the fact Issa’s impressive and unique rise; it’s enough to inspire belief in anyone about the power of persistence, self-belief, and humor.

To go from the awkward, unsure, and clumsy black girl who says the wrong things, doesn’t always react appropriately and doesn’t find girls who look like her, who act like her, represented on television at all; to the girl who shines as a creative force and hilarious storyteller, the one that equates the randomness and intensity of fame to what it feels like to be popular in high school, is remarkable. A rare dichotomy. Issa is a type all her own, and that’s what makes her rise so deeply satisfying.

HBO, Issa Rae, black actress, hbo insecure

Issa Rae Twitter

She is brown, and she is weird, and she is smart, and damn it, she’s also gorgeous and desirable. She deserves to navigate this world feeling as if she belongs in it. Much like the character she plays, who is closely aligned with specific parts of her personality, who we witness go through things Issa’s actually dealt with in her own life- she deserves to be seen and praised and lauded.

The funny, odd black girl does exist. She isn’t a unicorn. She deserves to be a fully realized, multi-faceted human being. She deserves to feel pretty. She often is pretty. One does not preclude the other. Issa Rae has done a tremendous job of staying true to who she is while her shining light gradually illuminated around her. Her flawless skin, deep eyes, and gorgeous smile deserve this ad campaign and every other success she’ll enjoy because she’s remained normal and curious and interesting.