The Emmy-nominated star and creator of the award-winning HBO series, Insecure, Issa Rae is ready to school you.
Using her signature do-it-yourself ethos, humor, and powerful voice, the 36-year-old is offering writers and creators of all types the motivation and tools they’ll need on their journey by way of MasterClass. From business, culinary arts, photography, writing, performance, and more, the online platform offers an array of classes that make it possible for anyone to learn from the best.
In Rae’s MasterClass, “Teaching Outside The Line,” the Stanford alum shares how she has navigated Hollywood while Black and “inspires you to reach your creative dreams and never take no for an answer.”
“I wrote a web series called The Misadventures Of An Awkward Black Girl and also wrote a T.V. show called Insecure. And the only difference between those two is money,” she says in a teaser video for her class. “I’m going to share with you all of my struggles and show you step-by-step how I made the transition from the Internet to television and film.”
My @MasterClass is here! In it, I talk about building characters, finding your voice, and how to build and grow with other creative people. I hope you’ll join me!https://t.co/PsFqZaUMCw pic.twitter.com/fNRWKNgYRl
— Issa Rae (@IssaRae) January 12, 2021
For her students, Rae lays out the blueprint on how she wrote her pilot using four categories: Character Set Up, Conflict, Setting Up Your Series and Why Today, which she considers the dreaded network question.
“In this class, I will teach you how to collaborate with other people, how to build characters, how to structure a pilot and how to get your stories out there,” she says.
The Los Angeles native says she believes in writing what you know and tapping into what’s around you and build from that.
“You have to know where you want to start,” she advised, “I wrote the phrase ‘I’m awkward and Black’ and I was like Ah-Ha! That’s what I’ve been this whole time.”
Although she’s basking in acclaim now, Rae admitted that she faced push back when she tried to get her original idea across.
“When I pitched Awkward Black Girl to a network exec, he suggested a celebrity actress who wasn’t considered awkward at all,” she recalled. “It was upsetting and clear to me that he didn’t get it at all. And I had to be comfortable walking away from that.”
Insecure debuted on HBO in 2016. Most recently in 2020, the series received eight Primetime Emmy Award nominations for its fourth season, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series. For her performance on the series, Rae has received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy, in addition to two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (in 2018 and 2020). On January 13, HBO announced that the fifth season will be the final season.
“Issa has turned insecurity into an iconic form of comedy,” said Amy Gravitt, executive vice president of HBO Programming. “The show is as incisive as it is heartfelt, and it has resonated strongly with its audience because of the deeply personal work that Issa, Prentice, Melina, the cast and the writers have put into it. This talented team has conceived a brilliant final season for ‘Insecure’ and we look forward to having many more stories to tell with this singular group of collaborators.”
Trusting her gut and being authentic are what got her to where she is today and, now, The Hate You Give actress uses her own experience to guide aspiring creatives in doing the same.
“If you know the story you want to tell, if you know your characters like the back of your hand, no one can take that away from you,” she implored. “There’s an audience for you. Narrow down the one idea you want to pursue right now and do it.”
MasterClass, with over 65 classes on a wide array of topics, is available to stream at just $180 for an annual subscription. Other celebrity-instructed Masterclasses include Martin Scorsese (Filmmaking), Serena Williams (Tennis), Natalie Portman (Acting), RuPaul (Self-Expression and Authenticity), Kelly Wearstler (Interior Design), Gordon Ramsay (Cooking) and more.