I’m still in shock that HBO’s Insecure has come to an end. It truly feels like the end of an era. And much like the show’s main characters, my friends and I have changed so much since the first episode aired. I think that’s why I connect with the series. It told our stories in such a clear, funny, yet beautiful way that seemed familiar to real-life problems, relationships, and friendships. But, the other obvious reason we rallied behind the show is clearly the mastermind herself, Issa Rae.
As a creative, her story motivates me so much. She defied the Hollywood rules and created her own path to achieve her dream. From the viral web series Awkward Black Girl to a five-year deal with Warner Media, her journey continues to inspire me. Still, it’s not just her story that resonates. It’s also her attitude and personality.
Whenever I see her interviews (and I’ve watched many) or watch her on the red carpet, I get the feeling she is completely being herself. And that self is a talented, awkward, and successful businesswoman who seems to pour herself into her art and helping others. January 12, Rae’s birthday, feels like a good time to focus on her, so let’s take a few moments to celebrate Issa by reflecting on 10 of her most inspirational quotes.
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There’s no code-switching over here! This meme moment will live in our heads forever. When an interviewer asked Issa Rae who she was supporting, she nonchalantly stated that she was “betting on Black.” And her delivery was everything we didn’t know we needed.
On Possibilities: "I don't like being limited. This is my worst nightmare. I want to be able to flex other muscles and see what else I can do."
This Issa Rae quote serves as a reminder not to tie myself into one skill or trait, it’s OK to grow and change paths.
On Authenticity: "Embrace who you are now. Embrace what makes you different. If people don't like you for who you are then those people aren't meant to be in your life."
Don’t feel like you have to fit into a mold. Celebrate yourself and those who see you for who you are.
Basically, I love this one because it’s an ode to Black girl magic and how we continue to be great no matter how much turmoil is thrown at us.
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Often it’s easy to diminish our goals yet magnify our problems. You know what I mean: “I got that little promotion” or “I did OK on my exam,” when you actually aced it! We should be comfortable celebrating our accomplishments and need to be careful not to minimize them.
Issa Rae On Taking Up Space: "It take confidence. It takes a sense of knowing what you want to say... but sometimes, as women in the workplace, you really have to speak up for yourself and not expect to be rewarded automatically."
With this one Rae simply reminds us not to fade into the background and be comfortable using our voice.
On Initiative: "Tell the story that you've been brewing in your head for years. Even if there hasn't been something, something that you're passionate about or something that you're curious about. You've just got to start it."
It’s so easy to put off goals and projects, especially when you’re passionate about them. But, this quote reminds me not to let fear make decisions for me.
On Speaking Up: "Never dilute your voice. I'm here for a reason and I have something to say, and that's why they [HBO] called me."
Being confident in yourself can get you far, and I think it feels better in the end when you remain true to who you are.
On Perseverance: "Stop finding ways you can't do something. Then you're not going to do it. Find the way that you can and then go for it."
Just go for it. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to start it. Nothing is ever perfect but it can’t be improved until it exists.
On Diversity of Black Women: "I'm a proud Black woman who likes swimming, owns an electric car and loves 'Downtown Abbey.' That's me. And just by being me, I'm Black."
Because, it’s a perfect reminder that we’re never a monolith.
Featured image by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for American Express