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EBONY - September 2018


Issa Rae uses wit and self-reflection to tell stories of the Black experience, sisterhood and racial issues, and she makes it her business to empower a new generation of creatives

by Mel Hopkins
photography: Brian Bowen Smith
creative direction: Courtney Walter
photo production: Bianca Grey
styling: Shiona Turini
makeup: Joanna Simpkin
hair: Felicia Featherwood

Awkward. Insecure. Impulsive. These are some of the adjectives TV producer Issa Rae uses to self-describe, even though the 33-year-old’s impact on the television industry is clear: She’s the reigning impresario and vanguard of authentic Black voices.

It’s standing room only in the brightly lit church sanctuary. Sunlight streams through the stained glass windows, shining down on parishioners lucky enough to fill the pews. Yet in this context, "lucky" seems inappropriate. On the left is a poster of a young man. In the center, his open casket, white with a splash of color from the bouquet of flowers on top.

Bowed heads seem to send up prayers for yet another young Black life snuffed out before reaching the age of consent.

Painted above the chancel is the phrase "A Fellowship of Love." Positioned underneath is the gospel choir poised to offer comfort through song. A woman dressed in a black business blazer and T-shirt with white letters that spell out “Just-Us for Justice” is at the lectern. Mourners turn in the direction of the speaker.

"Violence. Brutality. It’s the same story, just a different name," the provocateur says. The provocateur is Rae. The scene is from the upcoming 20th Century Fox film The Hate U Give.

Read the exclusive story in the September 2018 issue of EBONY magazine.

Behind The Scenes with Issa Rae

Issa Rae behind-the-scenes during her EBONY cover shoot.


Click on images to enlarge
Issa Rae, Photographed by Brian Bowen Smith
Issa Rae, Photographed by Brian Bowen Smith
Issa Rae, Photographed by Brian Bowen Smith
Issa Rae, Photographed by Brian Bowensmith
Issa Rae, Photographed by Brian Bowen Smith
Issa Rae, Photographed by Brian Bowen Smith



What did the fall season’s hottest fashion shows, including Alexander Wang, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Dior and Prabal Gurung, have in common? Adesuwa Aighewi, the 5-foot-10 fashion model, glided through 18 shows and stole the spotlight with her waist-length locs, café-au-lait complexion and graceful moves.

In our Fashion issue, we showcase the current players of the fashion world. Our Beauty section includes expert advice from Tyron Machhausen, the Chanel makeup artist who’s been essential to Hollywood celebrities seeking his brand of glam; Gina Edwards, nail wiz extraordinaire; and Yusef, Rihanna’s hairstylist who has worked on the manes of Kerry Washington and Naomi Campbell.

And although African-Americans have made some significant strides in beauty and fashion, there was a time when inclusion was not commonplace on the catwalk. The goal of the Ebony Fashion Fair Show, which began in 1958, was to bring high fashion to the masses. My mother, Eunice W. Johnson, traveled to Paris and selected haute couture from the houses of Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior. The show also included Black models, designers, makeup artists, stylists and photographers.

Over the years, we’ve seen incredible talent emerge in the industry. From the Mississippi born designer Patrick Kelly, who peaked in the 1980s and became the first American member of the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter, to the elegant couture wedding gowns of Amsale Aberra, who died this year at age 64, to the influential urban clothing lines influenced by hip-hop culture and helmed by Russell Simmons, Kanye and Sean Combs, we’ve made a mark on the fashion world that will never be erased.

Another person making her mark in the entertainment world is our radiant cover girl Issa Rae, who is photographed wearing the season’s trendiest looks. Recently nominated for an Emmy for her HBO series Insecure, the creator of the web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is serious about empowering other women and people of color to break into the entertainment game.

Linda Johnson Rice

As you can see, creativity and style are in our blood. We hope you enjoy the issue.

Linda Johnson Rice

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Inside This Month's EBONY Magazine

10 Letters
13 CHAIRMAN's Letter
14 Making the Cover
16 Contributors
17 As seen on Ebony.com

18 Culture
Our Issues: Saving Our Daughters Founder Curtis Benjamin on Cyberbullying; A Conversation with Civil Rights Attorney Bryan Stevenson, the Man Behind the Legacy Museum; #Goals: Indie Director Nicole Franklin Uses Bitcoin to Help Finance Her Films

24 Fashion
Fall Fashions to Covet; Get the Look: Donald Glover

36 Beauty
Fall Beauty Essentials; Master Classes with Top Celebrity Hair, Makeup and Nail Pros; Grooming Diaries: Beyoncé’s Makeup Artist, Sir John, Offers Guys the Rundown on His Skin Care Regimen

46 Lifestyle
Bon Appétit: The Great Food Truck Roundup; Travel: Guadeloupe—Beautiful Beaches and Powerful Black History; Health & Wellness: Tracking the Latest Diet Trends; Fitness: Is Your Smartphone Making You Fat?; Love & Relationships: Pastor Cal on Making Marriage Work

Issa Rae has a recent Emmy nomination and a popular HBO series. So what’s next for this "woke" millennial who insists on shaking things up?

Derek Luke takes his role on 13 Reasons Why to heart and wants to raise awareness about mental health issues.

Domestic violence affects African-American women more than other groups, and race and class make it difficult to break free.

Our royals are here, andwe are happy to salute them.

74 Entertainment
Spotlight On: Director X; Fall TV Preview: Channeling the Big 5 Networks; Books: We Chat With Nelson Mandela’s Grandson About His New Memoir; Singer Bobby Brown on New Music and His BET Biopic

Pat Cleveland