Issa Rae Calls Out Hollywood Executives Over Cancellation of Several Black-Led Shows

BY Dora Abena Dzaka February 7, 2024 8:07 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Instagram @americanblackfilmfestival

Actress, writer, and producer, Issa Rae, is calling out Hollywood for what she sees as a retreat from pledges to increase diversity and representation in the film industry.

Issa Rae is getting ready for a change after Warner Bros. canceled her MAX show Rap Sh!t in January after just two seasons. In a recent interview, the creator of Insecure discussed the cancellation of multiple Black-led television programs.

According to the 39-year-old actress, executives are no longer giving Black television shows priority. WarnerMedia also canceled Rae’s reality show, Sweet Life: Los Angeles, in December 2022 after two seasons. The show followed young Black creatives as they lived and thrived in Los Angeles.

Other Black-led shows on other networks that were recently canceled include The Wonder Years, A Black Lady Sketch Show, Grand Crew, All Rise, and South Side.

“It’s already happening. You’re seeing so many Black shows get canceled, you’re seeing so many executives – especially on the DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] side – get canned. You’re seeing very clearly now that our stories are less of a priority,” Rae noted.

In a separate interview with Time Magazine, Issa Rae pointed out that Hollywood hasn’t lived up to its 2020 pledge to produce more Black content. The Little actress claims Hollywood is afraid despite the industry’s pledge to boost diversity and representation in entertainment.

“I’ve never seen Hollywood this scared and clueless, and at the mercy of Wall Street,” she said, adding that executives are looking for safe “universal” stories. “There is a bitterness of just like, who suffers from you guys pulling back? People of color always do.”

“I’m sorry, but there aren’t a lot of smart executives anymore,” she continued. “And a lot of them have aged out and are holding on to their positions and refusing to let young blood get in.”

Issa Rae says that she may return to being independent following HBO’s cancellation of her popular show Rap Sh!t.

Rae started her career in college by creating Dorm Diaries (YouTube videos with a camcorder). The Stanford alumna raised money to launch a web series titled The Mis-Adventures of An Awkward Black Girl, and after that, she signed a contract with HBO to develop Insecure, a comedy that followed best friends Issa and Molly as they navigated relationships and life goals in Los Angeles. Between 2016 and 2021, the series received numerous Emmy Award and Golden Globe nominations.

After that, Rae starred in several movies, such as Little, The Lovebirds, and The Photograph, which she also executive produced. Three of Rae’s recent movies have received Academy Award nominations: American Fiction, which earned a nomination for Best Picture and a Best Actor nomination for lead actor Jeffrey Wright, as well as Barbie and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

The multihyphenate creator combined her film, television, and digital entertainment production company into Hoorae Media in 2020. In June of last year, Rae added a brand marketing division to her production company. 

Currently, the gifted writer and actress is working on two new HBO projects.