Issa Rae on Black stories being “less of a priority” across TV, why she was drawn to ‘American Fiction’

ABC/Heidi Gutman

Issa Rae is opening up about how Black stories are disappearing across television.

In an interview with Net-a-Porter, the writer and American Fiction actress shared her observations about how fewer Black stories are being greenlit.

“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,” she said. “You’re seeing very clearly now that our stories are less of a priority.”

Rae said, “I am pessimistic, because there’s no one holding anybody accountable – and I can, sure, but also at what cost? I can’t force you to make my stuff.”

The lack of support has prompted her to “take more steps to try to be independent down the line if I have to.”

Rae says one of the reasons why she was drawn to American Fiction — where she plays Sintara Golden, an author whose bestselling novel seemingly panders to Black stereotypes — was because it spoke to her own experience as a writer and actress in the industry.

“I found [the script] so relatable, so funny, so perfectly satirical,” she said. “Because I’ve been [the main character] Monk, and I remember in the Awkward Black Girl days – and even prior to that – feeling so enraged about what wasn’t being made, and being mad at who was in the spotlight at the time because I was like, ‘I know we’re so much more than what’s being presented here.'”

Rae also says she’s inspired to write more stories she wants told and she’s “been laser-focused on getting these projects up and running.”

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