Page Seven: Issa Rae

From Film and Television to Business to Branding, She Always Advocates for Us

by Ava Medina

Photo Credit: Kanya Iwana
Unapologetically Black and Certainly Beautiful…Issa Rae Knows What We Want

I was sitting with a friend in the View Park/Windsor Hills community of South Los Angeles at the original location of the Hilltop Coffee+Kitchen feeling like I was in my element. It was New Year’s Eve weekend of 2023 and I remember telling my friend, whatever Issa has going on here, I have to see it for myself. Issa had become my patron saint of creative minds, and whatever she was selling I was buying. So, the first thing I did was make a pitstop at ‘The Dunes’ and imagined her and Lawrence’s sofa on the curb at the front of the building, and then my friend said, “We could go to Hilltop. There’s more than one location, but for me the original is best.”

So, we went, and it was everything I could have ever imagined. It was appropriately inspiring without the puffiness of cliché. It spoke to people who had to accomplish a goal come hook or crook. It spoke to the dream, good energy and there was a space on the wall that said, ‘Keep climbing!’.

I was there with my laptop, tasting my friend’s Lavender Latte and there were tons of other thinkers and dreamers there and I said to myself rarely in branding history does an influencer speak to herself and to and for everyone else… then I thought… she constantly advocates for us, whether she knows it or not.

Photo Credit: Justina Mintz | Courtesy of HBO
How My Love for Issa Rae Started

In the beginning, I didn’t know enough to catch The Misadventures of An Awkward Black Girl. I was indeed tardy to the party and caught the entirety of Insecure. I actually fell head over heels in love with Issa’s character, Issa Dee on this masterpiece. And while I don’t fancy myself particularly ‘insecure’ I do often times feel unsure and for every scenario she and her BFF Molly (played by actress- comedian Yvonne Orji) found themselves in, I identified greatly. Their extended friend group was brilliantly and beautifully Black, the men in their lives were beautifully Black (I’m team Lawrence all the way) and the issues were so realistic that it taught lessons we didn’t even know we were learning. The entire Insecure experience was fulfilling, and I was heart-broken when it ended. I didn’t count Issa out though. One thing’s for certain and two things are for sure, Issa was going to do more and whatever she was doing, I would love it.

Photo Credit Courtesy of Viarae Prosecco
It’s the Wine Down for Me

I welcomed Issa’s after show commentary with Insecure showrunner Prentice Penny on Wine Down with Issa Rae and Prentice Penny. It was interesting to get firsthand knowledge of their outlook and intentions for the various characters and storylines and their input on where the characters would eventually go. And as I would watch, I remember thinking to myself, ’White wine, not red?’ And something within me said, I wouldn’t be surprised if…

And just as I suspected, Issa Rae gave birth to Viarae, her very own Prosecco. ‘These moments give us life’, is what seems to be her moniker and I promise you, this Prosecco, gives.

And as for wines, the ladies in our community fancy Prosecco. It’s exactly what they want when they want wine and somehow, Issa knew that. I’m sure her well known fancy for it had something to do with it, however, she always knows exactly what to do for us and for her and we love that. The brand says Viarae is perfect for ‘toasting to the level ups’ or enjoying it during an ‘any time kind of vibe’. Cheers to Issa!

The Ingredient

This 38-year-old visionary shows no signs of stopping. Her DNA is amazing proving that two things about US can be true. We can either come from great stock or be inspired to create great stock for generations to come. In the case of this Los Angeles native, Issa, born Jo-Issa Rae Diop she is the daughter of her father, a Senegalese pediatrician and neonatologist and whose mother is a Louisiana born educator; the two being magical vessels for her life. She has seen the best of everything, but constantly, creatively and intellectually continues to fight the good fight of faith for us all. She is a bilingual (fluent in French) Peabody Award-winning, New York Times best selling author, a businesswoman, founder of Hoorae Media and Raedio Records, an actress, writer and producer presently prominently featured in the Oscar nominated film American Fiction…and if that don’t beat all, she’s the cover of Time Magazine’s The Closer’s issue highlighting ‘18 leaders working to close the racial wealth gap.’

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