Issa Rae was born Jo-Issa Rae Diop on January 12, 1985, in Los Angeles. Rae’s father is a Senegalese pediatrician and a neonatologist, and her mother, Delyna, was an African American Louisiana teacher. Her parents met while studying in France. The family moved around before settling in Windsor Hills. Rae’s father opened the Diop Family Care Medical Group.
The family grew nervous of increasing gang violence, and they decided to move back to Senegal in 1988. Issa’s father attempted to open a hospital in Dakar but was unsuccessful, and the family moved back to Windsor Hills.
Rae attended the King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science in South Los Angeles, which was largely black and Latino. It was here that she became interested in acting. The school was known for staging narratives that tackled race and race issues.
Issa Rae went on to study at Stanford University, majoring in African and African American Studies. Rae acted and directed outside of Stanford’s theatre program and staged her own project based on Spike Lee’s School Daze, which made Rae realize her interest and talent in writing and producing.
When YouTube came around, Issa and friends started posting raunchy, funny music videos of parody songs they wrote. Her senior year, Rae created a low-budget, mockumentary series titled Dorm Diaries, which began circulating her campus and became popular on campuses across the nation.
After graduating, Rae received a fellowship at the Public Theatre in New York. While preparing to pitch Dorm Diaries to networks, her apartment was burglarized, and Rae lost all her production equipment as well as her scripts and pitch reel. This left Rae extremely depressed, but one day she was hit with the idea for her web series Awkward Black Girl.
The series challenged the stereotypical entertainment version of a black woman. Instead of the powerful, sassy types often seen portrayed by black women on TV and film, Rae created a character primarily based on herself that was shyer, questioned her identity, and loved rap but couldn’t dance. The series went viral, and Rae and producers raised money for production on Kickstarter.
In 2013, Rae started collaborating with Larry Wilmore on her comedy series pilot, Insecure. Rae was set to star in the series, which would cover the awkward everyday experiences of modern African American women. The pilot was picked up by HBO in 2015 and has received rave reviews since its release. The show received 2017 and 2018 Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy and a 2019 Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The show was also honored at the 77th annual Peabody Awards. The show has now had four seasons on HBO, and we are awaiting information on a renewal for season five.
In 2015, Rae released her memoir, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which was a New York Times bestseller. Rae has also starred in a number of other projects, such as Little (2019), The Hate U Give (2018), BoJack Horseman (2018), #BlackAF (2020), and much more.
Issa Rae Relationships: Who Has She Dated?
Not much is known about Issa Rae’s love life. All we know is that she is engaged to Louise Diame, her longtime boyfriend. Diame is a Senegalese businessman, and Rae proudly showed off her engagement ring on the April 2019 cover of Essence.
In the News
Issa Rae has led quite a good life and stayed out of trouble. In 2012, she was featured in Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ entertainment list. In 2015, Rae raised $700,000 for the Sterling Family Trust, helping Sterling children pay for college.
Her career is taking off. Rae is currently working on a new HBO Max series title Rap Sh*t, the story of a female rap group trying to make it in the music industry.
Keep up with Issa Rae and more with The Shade Room!