Issa Rae is happy—and why shouldn’t she be? She’s the creator and star of a hit show in its third season, in the process of creating several more projects, has a contract with CoverGirl and has quickly become a bona fide fashion star in her own right. (CFDA Awards, anyone?) And now, she’s the star of Glamour magazine’s TV-themed October issue.
“I’m doing what I love, and that is never lost on me. Even when I’m in my most frustrated moments, I’m like, ‘There’s always a silver lining.’ My general vibe is grateful, happy,” she told the magazine, before admitting the ‘tortured artist’ stigma has so far eluded her. “Not to discredit depression—you know I applaud people for being able to come out and be like, ‘I am sad, I am depressed’—but part of me feels guilty for being happy and OK.”
But ever the consummate actress, Rae’s Glamour editorial is a definite mood, as she gives Hitchcock-worthy silver screen siren vibes in a series of dramatically-lit shots by Petra Collins (scroll through below for the full spread).
But while we’ve become accustomed to seeing Rae bring the glamour, her awareness of her own beauty was hit-or-miss as she came of age.
“There was a certain age where I was like, ‘I know I’m the shit,’ ” she told Glamour. “And then it was middle school where I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not attractive to other people. The guys I go after don’t see me that way.’ ”
In fact, the revelation that she’d likely perpetually be cast as the “best friend” almost kept Rae from pursuing an acting career.
“You learn that a very specific type is appreciated,” she said.
Thankfully for us, Rae defied the odds, blazing her own trail to leading lady status—and a path for others to follow and find leverage in. And speaking to Glamour, Rae recalled meeting another famous trailblazer who revealed herself to be a fan of Insecure:
[Michelle Obama] had just finished watching the finale, and she was like, “That fakeout—how could you do that? I thought you and Lawrence were going to live happily ever after.” I was like, “You really watch it?” She was like, “Yes. Sasha and Malia put me on to it,” Rae says. “It was like talking to my auntie. It bums me out that I will never have that feeling again of the First Family fucking with us so hard and getting us. If Melania [Trump] said that to me, I would be like, “Well, I guess it’s canceled. We’re not making this show. It’s not ours anymore.”
And because the Trump administration loves nothing more than taking things away from brown people, Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s director of communications, just had to let Rae know that she should start writing Insecure’s finale, because the first lady is, in fact, watching.
And this is where our love for Rae springs eternal, because she put all insecurity and awkwardness aside, and clapped back within minutes in classic black girl fashion:
Because don’t get it twisted: Creating something for us and by us—and maintaining ownership of it—is paramount in Rae’s mind, as she told Glamour.
“All I know is who I am,” she says. “At the end of the day, all I know is my intentions, and no matter what you take out of context, no matter what pictures you post, I know what I am aligned with. I know what my truth is.”