I used to feel guilty when my new dreams overshadowed my old ones. I felt like I should have just been grateful for where I was and OK with staying there in the long run because it was something I've always dreamed of doing. But at some point, I realized that I was settling. Going into work for what was once my dream job felt robotic and automatic years down the line.
It's easy to settle into what's comfortable, especially when you're good at it, so you don't have to face the fear of trying something new… again. It takes so much energy to accomplish one dream, we often even don't have the capacity to even think about what to do next. Actress, director, and unashamed awkward Black girl Issa Rae serves as a perfect reminder to never settle, no matter how great and glamorous something looks on paper. If you have a new dream, go for it; whether you accomplished your old one or not. Life changes and so do we. Many of us have learned that our dreams and aspirations change too.
I would think that Issa Rae would be happy to ride her mega-hit HBO's Insecure till the wheels fell off. It was a huge step after the web series Awkward Black Girl took over the internet. From the outside looking in, she's set for life.
But while Insecure is heading into its fourth season, seeing Issa in a new light for projects like romantic drama The Photographand rom-com Love Birds, caused me to realize that she has so much more to offer. She's putting her money where her mouth is as co-owner of an Inglewood coffee shop and is even operating a music imprint with Raedio. She also has her own production company, Issa Rae Presents – things that might not have happened if she stayed comfortable with only doing Insecure.
As she stays booked and busy, she said during an interview with Cultured magazine that Insecure "started to feel like a job."
"It's very different from the first season, when nobody has any expectations, and from Season 2, when people are anticipating it innocently. And these are expectations in terms of the audience, in terms of execs, things like that. That played a huge role in the anxiety surrounding it."
"I didn't come into this being like, 'Yo, I want to make TV shows, so that means I'm going to be a boss and I'm going to be managing 15 people.' If I'm not successful, then they gotta figure out their next move. They have to believe in what I do, and my shit has to be on point."
Issa said the reality of longevity in Hollywood plays a factor in branching out to so many other projects she's passionate about.
"I'm always thinking about the fact that as a performer and someone on screen, I have a very limited window. As a woman, as a Black person, there's only so long that people are going to want to see me. If I'm lucky, I can have a Denzel career or a Phylicia Rashad career or Debbie Allen-type career, but that's not always the case."
Even with the reality of the entertainment industry in mind, Issa said she's still not here for being "the Black girl" as she takes on more diverse projects.
"Oh, did y'all hire me to be your Black face? Are you awarding me, because you want to say that you're thinking about Black women?"
At the same, she's also not a fan of accusations that she's making material to please her non-minority audience.
"I have seen the narrative that I want to make content for white people. Any suggestion that I'd be pleased that I have any kind of white acceptance—and that that is what's necessary to succeed—irks me."
I feel like if Issa can get out of her comfort zone to prevent herself from settling, then so can we; in any area of our lives. It's OK to be ambitious and want more for ourselves, always striving for something better. How else would we grow?
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