The 31-year-old L.A. native is up for her first-ever Golden Globe award for her role as Issa Dee in the buzzy new comedy series, which follows its 20-something protagonist as she navigates life, love and career all while being “awkward,” as she so often proclaims.
“I’m coming on the narrative of black women are constantly portrayed now — which is amazing — as flawless and fierce, and I remember just not feeling that way,” Rae told The Breakfast Club. “There’s a journey to get there and that’s what we want to show. I call [Insecure] the prequel or prelude to Black Girl Magic, and we’re gonna watch these characters find themselves.”
It’s a relatable show, but not the first of its kind for Rae, whose hilarious web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, garnered positive reviews from its fanbase (and a new home on Pharrell’s I Am Other YouTube channel for its second season).
“Awkward Black Girl was the series that defined me and launched my career in 2011,” Rae said, adding that she created two YouTube series prior to premiering Awkward Black Girl. “We very much had to build from the ground up and I credit the viewers of this show Awkward Black Girl. They’re the reason I have this show on HBO.”
Very much like Insecure, Awkward Black Girl‘s premise is about a young African-American woman who comes face-to-face with challenges currently plaguing any 20-something (“Should I break up with this guy?” “What do I want to do for the rest of my life?”) and learns to embrace her awkwardness in the process. This includes regular rapping sessions in the bathroom as a way to handle stressful, anger-inducing situations (a tactic Rae says she, unfortunately, doesn’t practice in real life).
As for whether or not Rae identifies with her Insecure and Awkward Black Girl‘s characters, she says her onscreen counterparts are roughly 80 to 90 percent of her true self — and yes, she really does consider herself to be awkward.
“I’m always uncomfortable. I’m an introvert. I’m shy I’m all of those things so I do identify as awkward … I can’t take compliments well,” she admitted in the interview. “I love compliments, don’t get me wrong, but I rather you say it behind my back.”
Check out the full list of 2017 Golden Globes nominees and get your own ballot here!