Issa Rae: 5 Things to Know About HBO's Breakout Star

Issa Rae, who stars in HBO's Insecure, explains why she chose her career path

Photo: HBO

If you haven’t heard, HBO’s Insecure has been renewed for a second season and star Issa Rae could not be more ecstatic.

After a season full of laughs, drama, emotional meltdowns, and unforgettable rhymes, viewers immediately fell in love with Rae and her character, Issa Dee.

Here are five things you need to know about HBO’s breakout star.

1. She graduated from Stanford, majoring in African American Studies.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Rae studied African-American studies at Stanford University. During her college years, she dug into her creative side and made music videos, wrote and directed plays, and created a mock reality series called Dorm Diaries.

2. At one point, she considered becoming a lawyer.
After college, the now-31-year-old played with the idea of going to law school. However, when it came to it, she always knew that a career in the arts was her calling.

“To a degree, I always knew this was what I wanted to do at a young age,’ she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “Even when I was thinking about being a lawyer, I was like maybe I can write super creative testimonies and act it out — I wanted to incorporate those things in whatever profession I took on.”

3. Before making it to the big screen, she created multiple web series.
Following her web series Dorm Diaries, Rae created another series called Awkward Black Girl. “I think because during that time [black women] were only seen in reality shows or we were just casted as the black best friend, the black best girlfriend or just not seen at all,” she says. “I couldn’t really relate to reality show women — even though I loved watching them — I was just like, ‘I don’t really know any women like that in my life.’ I just wanted to identify with someone in particular. Having to discussions with my friends, they wanted to see the same thing. That’s kind of why I targeted black women specifically.”

4. She writes, produces and stars in her own show.
Though she already had a strong online presence, Rae was ready to take it to the next level. Though she’s writing, producing, and starring in her own show, she still says working on an onscreen production is “easier than online.”

“I’m able to separate everything,” she says. “When I was in the writers room, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m a writer, This is great!’ It’s so much fun working with other people and I almost let it slip my mind that I was going to be in it until a couple days before we were shooting. I was like, ‘Holy s—, I have to act out these things we just wrote over the last six months. Am I ready to do this?’ I had to get in the mindset — luckily I have a great behind-the-scenes team.”

RELATED VIDEO: Insecure’s Issa Rae is This Fall’s Breakout TV Star

5. She’s a huge fan of Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Broad City. (Because who isn’t?)
Rae idolized Larry David’s classics so much that she used them as inspiration.

“I created [my third web series] because I wanted to see and alternative depiction of black women on television, black women that I could relate to and that also shared the humor of shows like Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm that I really liked. They take these small moments that we all go through and make them funny. For me, that’s what I wanted to do for black women specifically.”

She’s hoping to one day collaborate with Broad City‘s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. “[They] are my favorite! They are just so funny so I would love to see what’s possible there,” she admits. “We actually know each other from the web series — we’re on a workshop thing together through mutual friends and they’ve always been mad supportive. We haven’t linked up recently, but I’ve always thought they were hilarious.”

Insecure airs Sundays (10:30 p.m. ET) on HBO.

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