Issa Rae Says She's 'Proud to Show What's Possible' with Her Career — and Shares What She's Still 'Chasing'

Of her many career milestones, Rae tells PEOPLE, "I've had so much fun"

Issa Rae
Photo: Tyren Redd

Issa Rae's achieved a lot of firsts.

With Insecure, Rae, 38, became the first Black woman to create and star in a scripted series for a premium cable channel. In 2022, she became the first person to receive a key to the city of Inglewood, Calif. — an honor her Insecure character accepted in the HBO series.

The actress has earned three Golden Globe nominations and three Emmy nominations for her performance in Insecure. A Black Lady Sketch Show, in which Rae appeared and executive produced, also picked up three Emmy nods.

issa rae and amanda seales
Raymond Liu / HBO

But Rae doesn't consider any of those her biggest career accomplishments.

"I'd say transitioning from web series to television, just because that wasn't necessarily a proven model for many; especially for many Black people," Rae tells PEOPLE of her proudest moment, on building on the success of her YouTube series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. "I'm proud to show what's possible and I've had so much fun while doing it."

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While the Los Angeles native says she doesn't think much about being a pioneer, she believes she "definitely manifested having a show on HBO."

"I think about that sometimes and am amazed and grateful," Rae adds.

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Today, she credits Insecure with "legitimatizing" her career.

"It gave me the confidence in my ability to tell stories and connect with an audience," the star explains. "It set the bar for the kinds of people I want to collaborate with and opened my eyes to the types of stories I have left to tell. I will always be chasing the experience I had with Insecure. It is a time in my life that I will cherish forever."

Rae moved to the big screen with movies Little, The Photograph and The Lovebirds, and since Insecure wrapped in 2021, she launched music comedy Rap Sh!t on HBO Max.

Issa Rae
Monica Schipper/Getty

"I want to do so, so much," Rae says of her career goals. "In the next five years, I want to own a studio in South L.A. I want to produce international stories featuring Black people in the U.K., France and West Africa. I work with an incredible team of people who want the same things and I know that they'll help me reach these goals."

She also wants to take her Hoorae media company (which she founded in 2020) global.

Rae praises Debbie Allen, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey and Diddy with paving the way for her in Hollywood. "[They] demonstrated that the sky is the limit," she says. "I work in so many different mediums and get to dabble in so many different passions and businesses because of them."

If Rae could offer any advice to others like her, it would be to surround yourself with supporters.

"Find your tribe of collaborators," Rae suggests. "They will most likely be other Black women. Help them accomplish their goals as they help you accomplish yours. Rise together. From my friends and family and their networks during my internet days to my managers and agents — everybody has played a part in my journey and I never forget that."

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