‘Insecure’ Creator, Star Issa Rae on How Hannibal Buress Gave Her That First Big Break

TCA 2016: Executive producers of new HBO comedy discuss diversity, nudity and making history

Diversity was the big topic of discussion at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour panel for HBO’s new comedy “Insecure” on Saturday.

Issa Rae, the creator and star of the show, was told that she just may be the first black woman to accomplish that duel success. (It was later recanted; she’s actually the second, after Wanda Sykes‘ “Wanda at Large” 13 years ago.)

Rae was asked about how she found her agents and managers in a system that’s famous for its lack of diversity.

“I came from the Internet,” she said. “People who were watching and sharing, bringing attention to it. I remember during [the] third or fourth episode of our series ‘Awkward Black Girl,’ I got a tweet from Hannibal Buress. He said, ‘Hey, I really like your stuff. My manager manages Donald Glover and other people. Do you want me to put you in touch?’ And I was like ‘Yes!’ At the same time, I had a friend from school who was watching the series, who was in the mailroom at UTA, who later helped introduce me to agents. It was about creating the content, creating the work, building that audience.”

The panel also discussed how “Insecure” might help the tense race relations going down in the real world.

“It’s helpful in that when you watch it, the most basic thing is that black people are human, black people go through the same things as everyone else,” Rae said. “There’s always a narrative that’s against us in a way. With this show, it’s an opportunity to take our minds off of things but also realize at the end of the day, we’re all the same.”