Jo-Issa Rae Diop, known professionally as Issa Rae, was born on January 12, 1985. She is a talented and well-known actress, writer, and producer of the popular web series “Awkward Black Child.” Rae and Tracy Oliver successfully released the first few episodes of “Awkward Black Child” on Rae’s YouTube channel and gained wide recognition, which led to well-deserved media coverage. After the release of two seasons of “Awkward Black Child,” Rae produced her next successful series, “Insecure,” which was released on H.B.O. Today, she is an award-winning actress and producer, a New York Times best-selling author, and the founder of the Raedio record label and Hoorae Media production company. There’s much to celebrate with this ambitious and creative star!
Jo-Issa Rae Diop
January 12, 1985
Jo-Issa Rae Diop, professionally known as Issa Rae, is a well-known actress, writer, and producer, born on January 12, 1985, in Los Angeles, California. During her early childhood years, Rae, her four siblings, and her parents stayed in Dakar, Senegal until they later moved to Potomac, Maryland, where they spent several years. When Rae was in the sixth grade, her family made another move to View-Park Windsor Hills in Los Angeles. There, she attended King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science and also started practicing acting.
After completing high school, Rae attended Stanford University and graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in African and African-American Studies. During college, she let her creative juices flow as she wrote and directed plays, made music videos, and even created a mock reality series called “Dorm Diaries,” just for fun. At university, she also met and became friends with Tracy Oliver, who later helped produce and star in her hit web series “Awkward Black Girl.” Following her college graduation, she received a fellowship at The Public Theater in New York City, and she and Oliver started classes together at the New York Film Academy. In 2011, Rae successfully produced and released her very first web series, “Awkward Black Girl,” on her YouTube channel, where she also acts as the main character.
Her series gained recognition and went viral due to word of mouth through several blogs and social media posts. Thrilled by the success of the first few episodes of their series, Rae and Oliver raised money through Kickstarter to fund the making of the rest of season one, which they released and continued to stream on Rae’s YouTube channel. For the making of season two, she partnered with Pharrell Williams and released the new season on his YouTube channel, “iamOTHER” in 2012. The year 2013 awarded “Awkward Black Girl” with a ‘Shorty’ award for ‘Best Web Show.’ Motivated by the success of her first series, Rae wasted no time and began working with comedian producer, writer, and actor, Larry Wilmore, on a new comedy series called “Insecure.” By the year 2016, “Insecure” was successfully released on H.B.O. During this time, in 2015, she also released her very first book, a memoir called “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” which became a “New York Times” best-seller!
In 2017, which was the same year season two of “Insecure” was released, the H.B.O. series was listed by the American Film Institute as one of the ‘Top 10 Television Programs of the Year.’ In 2018, her performance in “Insecure” nominated her two ‘Golden Globe Awards’ for ‘Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy,’ and she received a ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ nomination for ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.’ The latest season of “Insecure,” season five, was released in 2021. Besides acting and producing meaningful and entertaining series, Rae has ventured into business and entrepreneurship and successfully co-founded her own record label called Raedio in 2019. In 2020, Rae starred in two movies as the lead actress, “The Photograph,” directed by Stella Meghie, and “The Lovebirds,” directed by Michael Showalter, and in the same year, launched her own media production company, Hoorae Media.
Rae successfully produces and releases her very first web series, “Awkward Black Girl,” on her YouTube channel.
Rae partners with Williams and releases season two of “Awkward Black Girl” on his YouTube channel, “iamOTHER.”
Her series “Awkward Black Girl” wins a Shorty award for ‘Best Web Show.’
Rae releases her very first book, a memoir called “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” which becomes a “New York Times” best-seller!
She receives two Golden Globe Awards for ‘Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy’ and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.’
Rae launches her own media production company called Hoorae Media.
Why We Love Issa Rae
She supports black people on her platform
Through her stories, she brings attention to police violence against African-Americans and common stereotypes about black people. Rae revealed that “Awkward Black Girl” was inspired by how she felt about Hollywood stereotypes of African-American women, stating that it was limiting and couldn’t relate to them. Besides “Awkward Black Girl” and “Insecure,” she has various other shows that focus on African-American experiences.
She’s an advocate for equality
Rae works with various organizations such as A.C.L.U. and Black Lives Matter. Her stories often include themes of equality and social justice.
She’s super creative
Rae’s creativity shines through her stories, and even through the names of her companies, Raedio and Hoorae, both have her second name embedded in them!
5 Surprising Facts
She was torn between law and business
There was a point in Rae’s life, before the release of “Awkward Black Girl,” when she was torn between whether she should pursue a business degree or a law degree.
Her voice was used by Google Assistant
For two years, Rae’s voice was added as an additional voice on Google Assistant where users could activate her voice by simply saying, “Okay Google, talk like Issa.”
She’s named after her grandmothers and aunt
Rae’s full name, Jo-Issa, is a combination of her two grandmothers’ names, Joyce and Isseu, and her middle name, Rae, is after her aunt.
She has frequent yacht parties
It’s reported that for three years straight, Rae has been hosting yacht parties where the rules are “to drink, dance, and not fall off the boat!”
She used to be heavier
Rae revealed that after seeing herself for the first time on television, she started eating healthier to work on losing weight.
Issa Rae FAQs
How many languages does Issa Rae speak?
Besides English, Rae speaks Wolof (the national language of Senegal) and French.
Is Issa Rae Senegalese?
Rae was born to a Senegalese father and an American mother.
What is new with Issa Rae?
Rae is partnering up with “The Daily Show’s” Jaboukie Young-White to write and produce a comedy-drama series.
Issa Rae’s birthday dates