Last Friday, University Union held a Q&A with Insecure’s Issa Rae, conducted by Emmy Award Winning host, Zuri Hall. To begin the night, we conducted an interview with E! News’ Zuri Hall. She spoke about the difficulty in conducting a story and turning it into something that the audience could care about in the matter of 20 seconds. She said that as a young black woman, she has not had to push herself into airtime. She credited E! with trusting her and spoke about being worthy “of the one spot they are going to give to a person of color”. Seeing how outlets of expression and creating video content are two things that are prominent on this campus, I asked Zuri what advice she would give to students on the campus of Syracuse University. This is what she said: “Start now. I regret that I didn’t dive in as quickly as you guys have. Now that everyone can create content, you have to do it. It doesn’t matter that there are a million voices in the conversation. Put yours in it and develop your perspective. You have to figure out how what you say or how you say it, is different from everyone else. If they love the way you tell them the news, that’s why they watch. That’s how you stand out. Now on campus, you can find out what works. By the time you get out f the university, you’ll be prepared to pitch and sell your own voice at the channels and networks.”
Zuri then continued to speak about how she got into journalism by claiming that simply put, she just likes to talk. Growing up in theater, her mom and dad wanted her to have a plan B. She wanted to do something that allowed her to talk to large audiences and spread messages. Before the show began, she did explain that it is rather hard to feel like her voice is being heard in a big conversation. She left us by saying that “you have to keep pushing and trust that what you’re doing, you’re doing for the right reason, even when other sources may be telling you something else.”
Over the years, Issa’s ability to connect with others and exemplify raw emotions and reactions has allowed for her to gain over 23 million views and over 200,000 subscribers on Youtube. As eager students sat in anticipation, all aspects of curiosity were suddenly filled in just over an hours’ worth of time. She began speaking about The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and the lessons she was taught while producing the show. That lead her into speaking about how she used to promote her show, saying she got access to the college listserv and was able to gain an audience from sending her content out among a large group of people. One of the most valuable lessons she learned was how to be comfortable being broke. She quickly transitioned into speaking about getting an offer from HBO to have her show picked up, and how that made her realize that when creating, you may not always have the resources or outlets for expansion that you may immediately desire. Being broke challenges us as youth to find other ways to find what you really want and need. She also explained how she felt like signing with HBO felt like her one shot not to mess up so at first, she felt a lot of pressure.
Issa also spoke about keeping her heart throughout the process of making Insecure. In order for the show to be successful, she had to make sure that she stayed true to what she really wanted to create versus what they, as overseeing producers, wanted her to make. All in all, she explained how she was happy that she got to highlight L.A. with Insecure. She said it challenged her to tell a story in advance and gave her creative freedom seeing how she wasn’t limited with budgeting. Zuri then challenged Issa to speak about growing up and the complexities of her childhood. Issa spoke how she was a thirsty middle schooler who would chat with people and send fake pics online to make more friends because in person, she did not have many real friends. Lastly, she followed up by speaking upon Drake, the inability to go days without eating popcorn, and wearing Chuck’s on dates. As weird as it may sound, she was exactly who fans expected her to be; personable and amiable.