Why Issa Rae is Bae

insecure

Regular AF!

She created an entire show on the everyday experience of an average black woman in ‘The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl’!! Need I say more?

Most of the time, black women are portrayed as mad, angry, gold-digging, uneducated, pillars whose role is solely to hold the family together at all costs even ones own sanity, strong, hardworking and survivors. That’s not to discredit these elements that do feature in some black woman. But at last someone portrays us as women who go through everyday life questioning things and navigating life’s awkward moments.

Issa is a Senegalese-American who lived in Dakar, Senegal for a few years with her family. She understands the complexities of being too black and too ‘white’ in different environments that often lead to a feeling of isolation especially when growing up and as you move from one place to another.

Her trajectory is also inspiring. She is a Stanford graduate who was trying to figure out what to do with her life when she began her YouTube series whilst her peers were doctoring and lawyering their way up the corporate ladder.

She did what she enjoyed, had fun with it and created a strong following that led her to have her very own HBO show ‘Insecure’ that was released in 2016 to some rave reviews. Along with my favourite director, Melina Matsoukas, and other incredible team members, they are sharing our stories as black people in a humorous, real and relatable way that doesn’t get portrayed.

Issa is Bae because:

  • She is smart
  • She is important
  • She is gorgeous (yes to that glowing, chocolate skin)
  • She is hilarious
  • She persevered against all odds
  • She is creating opportunities for other marginalised creators
  • She is relatable
  • She got Solange to be the music consultant for her show
  • She likes to make up raps in front of the mirror (YASSSS!! *dusts off my Lil’ Ru mic*)
  • She celebrated the show with a Brooklyn block party

Peep the trailer below and see what I’m talmbout! I can’t wait to watch the whole season!

Why Are You Rejecting Me?

I never chose to be made

Or tell father to abandon ship

I never chose to be created

No gun in holster at my hip

Planted in your womb for lack of choice

To you I am nothingness. Null. Void.

Where else was I to grow?

In pursuit to be perfect me

A million others I had to fight

Just to be conceived

Now your blood boils

Survival has become toil

You pump me into obesity with wrong

Malnourish me with no right

You have rejected me

I tried hard to reach full term

But full term feels an eternity

When you’ve never belonged

Why have you rejected me?

I do but I don’t understand

Where shall I go and how will I survive

If you won’t lend a helping hand?

So I will fight, must fight to get to light

And will raise myself like no other

I may be premature, but I’ll be alright

‘Til I find a new home to call mother

Sister Solange Slays

And those three words are so fitting for her.

Sister
Infamous for being the younger sister to megastar Beyoncé, Solange once lived in the shadow of her sister’s relentless talent and ambition. She was formerly a back-up dancer for Destiny’s Child and when she decided to pursue her Solo (pun intended) career, fell pregnant, got married and moved to a new town. Isolated and alone she divorced her husband and started all over.

Photo cred: Pop Sugar

Photo cred: Pop Sugar

Photo cred: Huffington Post

Photo cred: Huffington Post

Solange
An individual and an anomaly, there really is no other Solange. A unique individual, Solange moves to the beat of her own drum, treading on uncharted territory and opening doors for other young, black people. Her style and vision is unparalleled. A constant inspiration to many. Her own 2014 wedding to director husband, Alan Ferguson, had us all in our feels and shifted the way we envision weddings and wedding hairstyles at that.

Photo credit: New York Post

Photo credit: New York Post

Slays
2016 is the year I think the world finally stared Solange’s talent in the face with her number one album ‘A Seat At The Table’. Yes, she had been referred to as the ‘it’ girl when it came to her fashion and style. But I don’t think folks took her very seriously. But look at God! His delay is never a denial. This album placed her and Beyoncé in the elite group of siblings with number one albums on the Billboard 200, all in the same year. A great feat that was seemingly long overdue, but right on time.

This year she turned the big 3.0. – a pivotal age for most and she managed to do the most as she entered into this new chapter. She did so with so much style on a birthday trip with friends and family to White Sands, New Mexico with an  Instagram feed that left us all with deep-seeded FOMO as she frolicked with her friends in matching AWAVEAWAKE frocks against a stunning white backdrop. Just one of the many ways Solo sets trends and raises the bar.

Photo credit: Instagram

Photo credit: Instagram

Photo credit: @saintrecords Instagram

Photo credit: @saintrecords Instagram

A Seat At The Table

Photo credit: Pitchfork

Photo credit: Pitchfork

“I’m weary of the ways of the world.”

The opening line on track two of her album sums up the tone of the album. This is not a pop-licked project for folks to dance to and forget their woes.

In actual fact, quite the contrary. This album forces you to think about your woes as a black person in the world, specifically in America.

She resigns, questions, struggles, fights, stands tall, defies and cries unapologetically on this project with so much finesse and beauty. This record, though tackling real and painful issues, does so without portraying the stereotype of an ‘angry black woman’. No. Solange strikes an incredible balance of making her voice heard whilst practising great restraint over an angelic backdrop as her melodious voice flitters and floats in exquisitely delicate harmonies.

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That is why this project is so special. It took four years to come to life (one of her songs and a fave of mine, ‘Cranes in the Sky’, was actually written 8 years ago).

Her story epitomises what it means to stay true to yourself and your vision whilst patiently pursuing your purpose. She has managed to forge her own path so beautifully and rise above in spite of all adversity.

One of my greatest inspirations. Slay on Solo Slayah!

The King Behind Queen of Katwe

Photo credit: Walt Disney Company

Former finance professional, Tendo Nagenda is one of the key players who brought Disney’s ‘Queen of Katwe’ to life and in such a beautiful way.

I have always had a strong fascination with the people behind the scenes that are instrumental to creating works of art that we enjoy today. For me, it’s about the minds behind the brilliant concepts and ideas that the world loves, and the kind of qualities these masterminds possess in order to accomplish what the world is truly inspired by. That is my inspiration.

About Tendo

Born to first-generation immigrants, Tendo is the first son of an Ugandan father and Belizean mother. He was raised for a while in Los Angeles and at age 12, spent two years living in Kampala, Uganda where he got exposed to his African roots.

Professionally, he obtained a degree in economics and politics which led to him becoming a finance consultant at Deloitte & Touche. He then chose to pursue a different career path altogether.

Tendo Nagenda: A Career Trajectory Many Africans Can Relate To

In reading his story, a lot elements resonated deeply with me. Having been raised across different countries and travelled to several regions myself, I too have developed a strong love and desire for my continent. Here are a number of reasons why I connected so deeply to Tendo Nagenda’s story:

  • Similar to him, I am the by-product of an inter-cultural marriage thanks to my Ndebele father and Shona mother.
  • He initially studied and pursued a career path that would provide him with a secure future. As Africans, a lot of us understand that job and financial security are at the top of our parents’ priority lists for their children. In so doing, there are often restrictions and pressures to study for certain degrees (think accounting, law, medicine, commerce). This often leads to being unfulfilled as Tendo was and the subsequent quest for purpose and meaning tends to happen once we are established in said ‘approved’ profession.
  • As a result, we often have to juggle our reality and our dreams. Tendo took classes at the New York Film Academy & then UCLA in order to bridge the gap between his current position and desired career path.
  • Our success tends to happen against all odds. Africans are often deemed to be at the bottom of the food chain and in a lot of ways, few hold influential positions in key industries that shape perceptions and the world. Tendo had to fight against these restrictions.
  • We often have to work for a lower pay and sometimes discriminatory conditions because we are foreign. Tendo articulated this so well in his interview with Face 2 Face Africa:

“Another challenge – and I expect it would be for a lot of people, in particular first generation children of working-class immigrants – is that when you’re first starting out in the entertainment industry, you are very poorly paid and it’s hard to make a living. You have college debt or family obligations; you want to help your family out and not be still dependent on them.”

In a lot of ways I can resonate with this. As an immigrant or someone living in the diaspora, you do whatever it takes to build a career for yourself and sometimes it means being taken advantage of. This goes beyond just the entertainment industry.

  • You have to prove yourself ten times harder than most. Even though he stumbled across Tim Crother’s article of Phiona Mutesi’s story in 2011, the world only got to see his vision come to life in 2016. In order to make it happen, he had to first prove himself with Disney success films ‘Saving Mr Banks’ and ‘Cinderella’ before his dream project came to life. I have always felt that we have to work much harder as Africans to prove ourselves to the world especially as young, black African women.
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: (L-R) Executive Vice President of Production, The Walt Disney Studios, Tendo Nagenda, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, Sean Bailey, chaperone Mark Mugwana, Chess Coach and Director of Sports Outreach in Uganda, Robert Katende, Ugandan national chess champion Phiona Mutesi, Director Mira Nair, actors Madina Nalwanga, Lupita Nyong'o, Martin Kabanza and David Oyelowo, screenwriter William Wheeler and composer Alex Heffes arrive at the U.S. premiere of Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. The film, starring David Oyelowo, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga, is directed by Mira Nair and opens in U.S. theaters in limited release on September 23, expanding wide September 30, 2016. On September 20, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney) *** Local Caption *** Tendo Nagenda; Mark Mugwana; Madina Nalwanga; Lupita Nyong'o; David Oyelowo; Sean Bailey; Robert Katende; Phiona Mutesi; Mira Nair; Martin Kabanza; William Wheeler; Alex Heffes

Photo credit: Moms n Charge

All of this is such an incredible inspiration especially for me as a young, black African. So moved. * Queue Donny Hathaway’s “To Be Young, Gifted & Black”.*