This past weekend, multimedia mogul and actress Issa Rae took over Chocolate City with her joint collaboration with the esteemed Kennedy Center. Through a series of curated events, Rae's music label Raedio, creator management company Color Creative, media production company Hoorae and a host of sponsors cultivated an engaging display of Black excellence and innovation at the cultural institution.
Hoorae, which is an homage to Issa's aunt and a play on her own name, is the umbrella under which her other creative entities co-exist.
After an initial conversation via LinkedIn with Simone Eccleston, the Director of Hip Hop Culture and Contemporary Music at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the collaboration began to formulate in a short period of time.
"We've always aspired to be creator friendly across companies. In film and TV, we pride ourselves on discovering talent and also giving people we are fans of a platform to perform on a bigger scale, that's been from behind the camera to in front of it. Turning assistants into show runners and giving actors their first big break. Even on the music side. I love that about us. I love that we are able to prioritize that in a Hollywood culture built on remakes, banking the biggest stars and being convinced that only certain people and titles will sell," Rae shared with EBONY.
In addition to this exciting weekend, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Center's inception.
Kicking off the weekend was Pieces, an immersive and intimate musical set that featured R&B artist Mereba. The event was in partnership with Spotify's Frequency, an initiative that aims to celebrate Black art, entertainment, creativity, culture, and community across the Spotify platform and beyond.
"I am over the moon to be partnering with Issa and Raedio for this event," said Mereba. "Storytelling is a really important part of my artistry and I love the way Pieces incorporates that into the performance. I'm excited to have the chance to go deeper and offer inspiration to my community through my music and my truths."
Also celebrating their 50th year was Nike, who teamed up with Hoorae and nonprofit Beyond the Ball to commemorate the occasion with two events— a scholarship competition for Howard University students and a workout experience for the community.
Attendees of the takeover were able to witness Short Film Sunday: Saturday Edition which highlighted two short films called If These Locs Could Talk and Undertow. Fans also screened upcoming projects that can be expected from Rae and her subsidiary companies. Other events included the Find Your People Party, a sit down dialogue about finding one's respective creative community; a preview of popular podcast The Read's debut comedy album hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle, and A Sip with Issa Rae in which she spoke with multifaceted entertainer Keke Palmer.
Given the success of the weekend, Rae and her Hoorae team hope to bring the event back bigger and better next year.