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Issa Rae Says She Wants to Change the Way Dark-Skinned Women Are Portrayed

Issa Rae
Actress Issa Rae poses at the 2016 EBONY Power 100 Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

As the star and creator of the HBO series, Insecure, Issa Rae has done her part by creating a platform that shares nuanced Black stories and supports Black fashion designers. The actor wants to take things further by helping to change the archetyped way in which dark-skinned women are portrayed on TV and film, she told Teen Vogue.

On July 22, the network celebrated the upcoming third season of the comedy series with the Insecure Fest at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. During the event, Rae spoke about colorism and how she has given a platform to darker women in a time where fairer skin is still dominating lead roles.

“Dark-skinned women still portray a certain archetype and I want to change that,” she said. “They’re either super strong, emotionless, robotic — or hyper-sexual, and you don’t get the in-between very much.”  Rae and Yvonne Orji, who plays Molly, Issa’s best friend on the show, are both dark-skinned and of African descent. Their stories are as layered, complex and centered on the series.

“I want the portrayal of dark-skinned women to evolve in such a way that you see us as multi-faceted,” Orji says. “We are more than just the sassy friend or the maid. We’re so dynamic. We can be the leads.”

Natasha Rothwell, who plays Kelli on the series, chimed in on how the Rae presents Black women in an unstereotyped way. “My character brings a lot of the comedy to the show, but she’s not a caricature,” she said. “She’s grounded, she’s thoughtful, she has feelings and emotions that she wants to express in supporting her friends. And you’ll see more of that this season.”

Season Three of Insecure returns to HBO on Aug. 12 at 10:30 p.m. ET.



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