“From the jump in creating the show, it was put in my mind that you had to have a White character to be a bridge, and for people to care, for it to get awards, for it to be considered worthy of the television canon,” she told the magazine.
According to Rae, the colleague said: “Girl, if you want this sh*t to set off to the next level, you got to put a White character in there, then White people will care about it, then NPR is going to write about your sh*t, and it’ll blow up.”
She used the same approach when she embarked on a career in television in 2016 with her critically acclaimed HBO comedy series “Insecure.” HBO, like CNN, is owned by WarnerMedia.
Early seasons of the Black woman-centered show featured the character Freida, a White co-worker of Rae’s character, Issa Dee.
Rae told Mic that she then “started actively resisting” the temptation to include another White character, so when her character quit her job in the show, she decided that she no longer wanted Freida to have a recurring role.
“And I was like, F**k no! This is not a show about Freida!” Rae recalled. “I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, our show is just about Black characters now in the most refreshing way.'”
“I hope that not having to think of an audience that isn’t us — and being okay with that — is passed on. I want people to know we are enough.”
The show has since earned 11 Emmy nominations and one Emmy win, and won three NAACP image awards.
“I’m thrilled to not only spread my creative wings with the network that makes all of my favorite series,” Rae said in a statement at the time.
The fifth and final season of “Insecure” will premiere on Sunday, October 24.
Issa Rae was advised to include a White character in her shows