The HOORAE Media multi-hyphenate joins artists like Will Smith, Viola Davis, and Lady Gaga for this honor by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations.
Issa Rae is known for her memorable contributions to the culture, but more specifically for Black women through projects like Awkward Black Girl, Rap Sh!t and HBO’s hit show Insecure. For her major impact on film and television, she received the 2023 Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year award at the annual Cultural Rhythms Festival by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations and the Office for the Arts.
Rae is known for her visual conversations about Blackness through elements of comedy and drama. “A lot of my inspiration for [‘The Mis-Adventures of Awkward] Black Girl’ came from that 12-year-old’s experience of adjusting and being around Black people again and understanding my Blackness and having my blackness placed up in a microscope and examining that and finding the humor,” Rae said.
The Lovebirds actress now joins a roster of honorees including Lady Gaga, Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis and Will Smith. Rae attended the festival to participate in an all-Black women directors discussion with Kyla Golding, Tiffany Onyeiwu and Hayat Hassan, who make up the festival’s first all-Black directing trio.
The award-winning creative allowed them to pick her brain on making a successful stride in the entertainment business, being a creative and embracing community.
“I think about how so much of my journey has been a result of the people that I met in school,” Rae said. “I didn’t realize leaving there that this was the last forced community at the end. Everyone’s excited to escape and get out and then go into adulthood, just become who you’re supposed to be, but the people around you that you meet here are so important. These are your collaborators.”
Rae has been on a winning streak since launching her media company HOORAE in 2020, as she continues to create platforms for upcoming writers, directors and producers. Through the recognition, it continues to highlight the impact she’s made on entertainment regarding diversity, equity and access for hungry newcomers in the industry.
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