Issa Rae On Adjusting To Success, Being Afraid of Failure, and the Reality of Will Smith Instagram Speeches for GQ Magazine

Whether you're a fan of Insecure or not, you have to respect Issa Rae and her grind. Recently the star covered GQ Magazine's June 2018  Comedy Issue alongside SNL's Kate McKinnon and Sarah Silverman and today, the magazine shared her cover story. To our delight, in the story photo shoot, Issa paid homage to our beloved 90s favorites. Now that she's reached a very specific level of fame, the actress, writer, director and producer opens up about navigating this next level. We've pulled the highlights for you below.

Issa-Rae-GQ-Cover

Issa-Rae-GQ-Cover

On balancing responsibility with fame:

“I only want to make my presence felt when I feel like it's necessary. And so much of that is such a hard balance, especially when the narrative is about getting noticed and getting attention for a specific product. And in that way, yeah, I want the eyes to be on what the product is”—meaning Insecure. “But after a while, you become the product.”

Issa-Rae-Is-So-Fresh-01-GQ-Magazine

Issa-Rae-Is-So-Fresh-01-GQ-Magazine

On paying homage through her work:

Rae often says that an inspiration for creating Insecure was watching the sitcoms she grew up on, shows with predominantly black casts like Living Single and A Different World, disappear from television—a void that no one seemed inclined to fill. Growing up in Los Angeles, where her father, a doctor from Senegal, had a practice in Inglewood, Rae would frequently recognize her own neighborhood in movies like Love and Basketball and on shows like Girlfriends. Then that stuff just vanished. “The takeaway was ‘Agh, black people are so dope. Where are they at on TV right now? Now I want my own version.’ ”

Issa-Rae-GQ-Magazine

Issa-Rae-GQ-Magazine

On lessons learned in the industry:

“I was a mess,” Rae says now. “I was just like, Yeah, I have this shot, but I don't want to fuck it up, so I'm just gonna listen to what everybody says. And I just became like fucking clay for people to mold. The Shonda process was, like, the best shit that happened to me, because it gave me confidence to feel like, ‘Oh, I can do this.’ And I feel like ABC took the confidence away.” Rae emerged from the experience determined never to compromise in that way again: “Like, I need to know what the fuck I want to say before I say yes to any opportunity. I need to have a clearer point of view and clear voice.”

[Tweet "I need to know what the fuck I want to say before I say yes to any opportunity." - @IssaRae"]

On going through the process:

“It feels like I'm being tested in a really crazy way,” she says, not bothering to hide her stress. “It's nothing I can really get into. It's like third-season problems along with, like, just life shit. As a creative, I never imagined that I'd be a boss, too.”

On not getting too comfortable with success and Will Smith Instagram speeches:

That could go to shit,” Rae says. “This could be the worst season we've ever had. And then what? Then people are all of a sudden like, ‘Oh, okay.’ Then the calls stop. It's like stand-up comedy: In order to eventually succeed, you have to bomb. That's what every comedian says—that's when the fear goes away. And I feel like I'm still fearful because I haven't publicly bombed yet, in terms of my career. Yeah, Insecure is successful now, but where's my bomb coming? Where are my Will Smith bombs coming? Where, where is that happening?”

“He went through a period when he was depressed, when three or four of his movies in a row weren't number one at the box office. So for him that was terrible. And now he's talking about, ‘You gotta fail, you gotta fail.’ ” She pauses. “And I don't want to make Instagram speeches about failing. I don't.”

Read the full interview over at GQ Magazine.

Christina Hammond On Cardi B, Drake + Redefining Social Media For Yourself

drake-nice-for-what-christina-hammond

drake-nice-for-what-christina-hammond

Women’s History Month began March 1st and has pretty much been extended until Fall 2018 (for now). Between the release of Cardi B’s debut album “Invasion of Privacy” and Drake’s newly released "girl power / twerk anthem” (@DreaOnassis) “Nice For What", women are continuing in their reign to be seen as the powerful innovative forces of the world, while balancing the various adversities we face in our personal lives, careers, and relationships.

Had the opportunity to tackle the design work for @iamcardib’s forthcoming album ‘Invasion of Privacy’. Dropping April 6th 🙏🏾 📷: @jorafrantzis

A post shared by nicholas (@nickychulo) on Mar 26, 2018 at 5:38pm PDT

And while some may resist the evolution of social media, I believe it serves as as a therapeutic expression of confidence for women. It’s creating a new type of woman, a resilient woman. One that is real, one that shines but also pivots through any form of a hard knock, especially relationships.

[Tweet ""Social media serves as as a therapeutic expression of confidence for women." - @MISSCNH"]

For some women, nothing sets us back like a stale or failed relationship. The bounce back has always been a long extended journey, one that can sometimes take a toll on every aspect of our life. We grab our favorite bottle of wine and curl up to the legendary Lauryn Hill, as she croons out “Care for me, care for me, you said you care for me.” (“Ex Factor”, Miseducation of Lauryn Hill). It’s always been this sad, yet amazing song we associate with “that ex” we just couldn’t get over. We sing it to the top of our lungs, word for word, hurt. She made something so bad, hurt so good.

But ladies, a new day is upon us. “Nice For What” is here! Now 20 years later (right, 20 years), Drake creates a new experience for the popular tune. Sampling the lyrics of Ms. Hill, combined with the noticeable Louisiana sound inspiration, his lyrics acknowledges our ability as women to recover, boss up and slay with our girls.

Not only did Mr. Graham drop the single, he also dropped a super fire visual to accompany the certified Summer hit. Leaning on female story teller Karena Evans, the “Nice For What” video features highly reputable women in the industry making strides not only in their careers, but personal lives as well. We get to see the beautiful “Grow-ish” star and activist Yara Shahidi. This young leader is on our televisions, in every high fashion magazine, on stage with Auntie Oprah and more. And while one would think that this would consume most of her time, the talented beauty is slated to attend Harvard University, starting Fall 2018. I appreciate someone like Yara being an example for a woman with intelligence and of many talents. Women often balance a multitude of tasks, and wear so many hats, which is sometimes overlooked and under appreciated.

via GIPHY

We also see women like Issa Rae, who have become one of the leading women in the television and media industry (also one of my favorite people to follow on social media). She’s introduced this wave of being professionally real, as she takes full advantage of the freedom to creatively be herself. She demonstrates this not only through her hit show “Insecure”, but even her social media. We are privy to her during the first table read of the new season one day, and her friends partying on her IG story the next.

There are other notable women who make appearances in the video; Tracee Ellis Ross, Misty Copeland, Jourdan Dunn, Rashida Jones, Tiffany Haddish, Zoe Saldana, Letitia Wright (Wakanda Forever), and more.

Ironically enough, I recently completed the book “Nice Girls Still Don’t Get The Corner Office” by Lois P. Frankel, PhD. In a weird but similar way, both the book and “Nice For What" (alongside with the video) convey the same message. As girls, we are taught to be nice and play nice. Not anymore. We are making noise about what we want,One things for sure, no matter the age, or the situation, we will no longer be sad listening to the “Ex Factor” tune.  As a matter of fact, we are twerking and moving on in life.

blkcreatives-Christina-Hammond-Drake-Cardi-B

blkcreatives-Christina-Hammond-Drake-Cardi-B

Christina is the author of “Do It For The Gram: A Quick Caption Guide For The Millennial Woman” is available on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Connect with Christina on Instagram: @Ms.CNH and Twitter: @MISSCNH

Let's Help Our Communities Starting with Children Of Promise

The year before I launched #blkcreatives in 2012, I worked at Youth Villages, a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health. Located just outside of Memphis, Tennessee (my second hometown!) the Bartlett Campus, where I worked, provides residential mental health treatment for boys ages 8-17 and girls 11-17 who have serious emotional and behavioral problems. I served as a residential youth counselor and this was my job description in a nutshell:

- Provided the setting for an intensive treatment program that combines the unique balance of structure and freedom which enables children and their families to identify, understand and cope with their individual needs and develop the skills necessary to succeed in less restrictive settings.

- Balances team and individual responsibility, presents documentation in computer database system effectively, maintains confidentiality, and responds promptly to client needs.

But as you know, a job description only scratches the surface of what you really do at a job and my time at Youth Villages was no different. It was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had. While I can’t get into the full details (because, confidentiality), I will say that it’s an experience that’s completely changed the way I look at children and families who are impacted by oppressive systems in this country. Working with girls who have been faced various levels of trauma taught me that there’s so much that can be done before a child even makes a choice to go down a certain path. It also taught me that the trauma that children deal is a reflection of where we are as a society and where we are going.

I won’t place judgement on what’s bad or what’s good because many of these choices come from a place of survival. These decisions, while they may impact a child’s life, are sometimes made with the information that’s at hand. And as someone who has family members that have been incarcerated for most of my life, I understand the effects that the system can have on the families of those imprisoned. It’s an experience that impacts our communities for generations and we want to begin to support those who are providing solutions.

This March, we at #blkcreatives are looking to support Children Of Promise, a Brooklyn organization that is working to embrace children of incarcerated parents & empower them to break the cycle of intergenerational involvement in the criminal justice system. In 2009, Sharon Content founded Children of Promise, NYC (CPNYC) after growing increasingly concerned about the lack of support offered to young people who experience parental incarceration.

CPNYC is the first and only after-school program and summer day camp specifically designed to meet the needs, interests and concerns of children left behind by a parent serving time in prison. Since its inception, we have provided services to over 1,500 children and their families. The org has also established it's own innovative and holistic model to support children of incarcerated parents in leading healthy and productive lives.

#blkcreatives was also built to support and give back to our communities as we’re building our careers, and this fundraiser is a start.

DONATE TODAY!

[Exclusive] Support The Culture: The Story Of Write On The Doc

I was about seven or eight years old when I spent one afternoon helping my grandma clean up the upstairs attic bedroom. As in many of our families, grandma’s house was the place to come and stay until you got on your feet, and my older brother was the latest to have moved in and moved out. What started off as a chore turned into me discovering magazines with Biggie and Puff Daddy on the covers. What is this? I wondered. I had heard him listening to their music but didn’t know that there were actually stories written about them. I flipped through those pages, already realizing that I was holding something that was special. The very first time I picked up a copy of VIBE Magazine, my life changed and if you were a kid who grew up during the early 90s, I’m sure you have a similar story.

Hip-Hop Archivist Syreeta Gates is on a mission to make sure that those stories don’t just get told, they get preserved. Write On: The Legend of Hip-Hop Ink Slingers tells the stories of the journalists (Elliott Wilson and Danyel Smith, Kierna Mayo, Datwon Thomas, Joan Morgan, Michael Gonzales, Mimi Valdez, just to name a few!) behind this epic era didn’t just shape a culture - it defined it.

For every person who's still got issue of VIBE, XXL, The Source, Honey, King, Word-Up!, Right On!, etc stashed away at their mama's house, Syreeta has created and directed a documentary that’s for you. We’ll let her tell you the story.

Interview by Melissa Kimble

MK: Write On: The Legend of Hip-Hop Ink Slingers is a documentary about journalists that influenced Hip-Hop culture. Why the focus on writers? Who did you make this documentary for?

Syreeta: I decided to focus on this topic because it never been done and I was actually confused as to why. These writers were the ones that not only curated the story but they created the language for how we interact with hip-hop culture. It was also a personal story for me as I was the editor-in-chief of an online hip-hop publication and then I realized that I didn't know any hip-hop journalists. So I went to the Googles and Google couldn't even help me solve my problem because their work wasn’t online specifically in the eighties, nineties and early two thousands. So I decided to create the change I wanted to see in the world and that's how we got Write On!

Write-On-The-Doc-VIBE-Snoop-Dogg

Write-On-The-Doc-VIBE-Snoop-Dogg

MK: You've interviewed 30 plus writers for this project and they all have stories and legendary careers. How did you manage to nail them down and also get them to share their stories?

Syreeta: Last fall we have interview 34 writers in a few different states and we have about 20 or so more to go. How it happened is a whole 'nother story that I might share during this documentary process so that people can really understand what happens when you keep your word in your mouth. I nailed them down by keeping them in my conversation so when I found out who these hip-hop journalists were, I did more research and I started following them on Twitter and on Instagram. I tried to read as much on these writers as possible. I'm a Kinesthetics learner so I had to physically do something with the information that I was getting. I think I've always been transparent with the writers, like this is my first documentary, this is my age, this is what I've learned so far but it's a lot that I don't know. I think them knowing me and my commitment to always put the writers on is why they said yes and I'm grateful!

MK: Write On involves so many different moving pieces and parts. What do you think was the most challenging part about working on this project and how did you overcome it?

Syreeta: The most challenging part has been not knowing the process of getting a film done. This is my first film - but certainly not my last - there's a lot of stuff that I didn't know. I'm thankful to YouTube and I'm thankful for filmmakers that I follow on Instagram (Twitter shout out to Ava Duvernay one time!) and the countless other filmmakers who share their story online. I’m also grateful to the many people that my friends connected me to throughout this process. Their insight has been so valuable. There has been many challenges throughout this process but when you are committed to greatness you have to do what you need to do to make it happen.

[Tweet ""When you are committed to greatness you have to do what you need to do to make it happen." #writeonthedoc"]

MK: Not only do you have this doc, but you’ve also balanced this project with Stay Hungry and The Gates Preserve. How do you keep yourself on task and focused on a daily basis?

Syreeta: Building a team is everything and so The Gates Preserve is the Hub. It’s a multimedia experience company committed to archiving and preserving and hip-hop in such a way that it last forever. So there is no way that I could take on such a large endeavor without a team. I always use the phrase #teamUS and for me it’s a verb so, every project weather STAY HUNGRY or this doc or whatever is next, it needs to be in alignment with the commitment. So every project that’s created must have a team! Though I’m the visionary for the doc we have Kathy Landoli who is the Screenwriter, Herman Jean-Noel who's the Director of Photography and a host of other people who not only said yes but have put in time and work to make this happen. The same for STAY HUNGRY - we have a team of people internally shout out to Kat Delva who runs the ship and Executive Chef Airis Johnson who keep the wheels turning. But we have chefs and production teams and other people who say yes. More importantly than them saying yes they have receipts that are in alignment with them getting the work done. So collectively we're just out here making history. I will always talk about the team. I live in a world in which Everybody Eats B! In terms of keeping focused and being on task this was the first year that I've planned out the whole year. That alone was a game-changer! So I'm clear of what I can and can’t commit to  based on what has been created. I love Post-It notes and I have some apps on my phone that supports me with knowing what the day, week, month and year looks like.

MK: What excites you the most about this documentary coming to life?

Syreeta: Acknowledging the writers and sharing their stories! Knowing that some young person in some small town in any city in America and or abroad can watch this and make the decision to become a writer because they know that the power is in the pen. They are now clear that there is power in the word as soon as they write it down that's it. Also I'm high key hype about the world knowing a lot of untold stories in hip-hop. *Rubs hands like Birdman*

MK: This project also seems like it was a huge undertaking and sometimes, even when we're creating something we love, we can get overwhelmed. How did you find (and continue to find) joy throughout this process?

Syreeta: This is a phenomenal question. I've been overwhelmed have had so much anxiety and have been uncertain about this project possibly more than any project to date. But what supports me find joy is always remembering my purpose. My boy Kleaver Cruz has a project called #TheBlackJoyProject I go there when I need that boost, I go to Yaba Blay’s #ProfessionalBlackGirl when I need to be reminded how lit I am. I wanted people to know these writers like how I've known them. I'm clear that I have a team that supports me as a human. They are committed to my joy my happiness my growth as a person and I think when you have those type of people around you it's much easier to go through the s*** that you can't control.  

MK: We know you must have a ton but what are some of your favorite stories from this project? Was there anything that you learned that really surprised you?

Syreeta: Oh my gosh there are so many stories - I learned so much. It was just crazy - it's like going through this project has been like going through undergraduate program or putting yourself through your own school. All the things surprised me! Like imagine you’re a hip-hopin shorty rock and then you get the context for your favorite artist. It’s mind blowing! You're going to have to wait till the documentary comes out to find out all the goodies!

Write On: The Legend of Hip-Hop Ink Slingers Kickstarter is now LIVE. Support the culture.

Real Life Black Girl Magic: The Astrologists and Goddesses #blkcreatives Edition

As we've seen this week from ESSENCE and Teen Vogue, Black Girl Magic is alive. These astrologists and goddesses that you should know make it very real.

As a Creative, we all need a little magic in our lives. It's important to remember that we're connected to something (or someone) bigger than us at all times and that we're never truly alone on our journeys. Here are the women who are curating the magic everyday.

Janelle-belgrave-black-woman-astrologist-black-girl-magic

Janelle Belgrave is an astrologer, licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, clairvoyant intuitive and meditation instructor. Her mission is to assist in guiding you toward living the inspired, authentic life that's in alignment with your greatest joys and desires.

Website / Twitter / Instagram / Learn How To Create Your Natal Chart

mecca-woods-black-woman-astrologist-black-girl-magic-my-creative-connection

After applying the principles of astrology to improve her own life, Mecca Woods opened her own astro-coaching practice fueled by a five-year background in Social Services; her experiences as a mom and partner; and a passion to create positive change. Also an accomplished writer and filmmaker, she helps others claim and create a life they truly want by teaching them how to better tap into their own natural-born gifts.

Website / Twitter / Instagram /

ashleigh-johnson-black-woman-astrologist-black-girl-magic-my-creative-connection-#blkcreatives

Ashleigh D. Johnson uses astrology to show aspiring and established entrepreneurs the logic behind their instincts. As a business astrologer, she helps clients gain clarity, cash, and control through intentional observation of their natal chart and business’s chart (—yes, she says, your business has a chart of its own.) Whether you’ve been in business for years or you’re just starting out, she can help you understand how and when you can make more money with ease.

Website / Twitter / Instagram

tatianna-tarot-black-woman-astrologist-black-girl-magic-my-creative-connection-#blkcreatives

As a professional tarot reader, Tatianna utilizes the Tarot as a therapeutic service that offers clarity regarding our personal subconscious beliefs, choices/behaviors, habitual patterns, life cycles & our journey along the way. She can help you develop inner peace, strong self-awareness, heightened intuition, higher vibrations & assist you in defining your own connection to spirit through the Divination and Ritual Practice. 

Website / Twitter /Instagram

[Tweet "Reminder: We're connected to something bigger than us at all times #blkcreatives"]

Which of your favorite mystics and goddesses keep your Black Girl Magic in check? Let us know in the comments or tweet us!