Thursday, April 11, 2013

You Done Good Girl! Issa Rae Gives Her First College Keynote Speech at Vanderbilt University

Don't even ask me what's going on with my face right here. I have no idea. 
Toya here.  It's been a while since I've posted some stuff and I will explain why in a bit.  There has been so so so much going on. However in the midst of so much happening, I gladly rearranged my life on March 21st to hear the high priestess of awkwardness herself, Issa Rae, speak at Vanderbilt University here in Nashville.

It was packed! 
Issa Rae just so happened to be speaking in Nashville during the busiest and craziest week of my 2013 thus far.  The event she was speaking at happened to be the day before my India.Arie tribute benefit show that I was producing.  I am an absolute mad woman on the week of a show. Luckily for me I took off both jobs that day (yes a sista is working two jobs right now. It's real out here) so I was able to catch her give her very first college keynote speech.

Go Issa!
When Issa opened her mouth to speak, I heard a lot of giggles and I think I know why because I was giggling too.  I am pretty sure I was not the only one thinking "Oh my gosh it's J! What awkward thing is she going to do next?" as if we somehow had been sucked into Youtube and were a part of the latest ABG episode.  But in no time at all we were brought back to the reality that it was indeed Issa Rae in front of us, the woman that so many of us have championed for giving a voice to us awkward black girls.  So many of us are just so proud of her and it showed when the room erupted with applause when the introduction mentioned her latest collaboration with Shonda Rhimes.

After showing three episodes of ABG for the two people in the room who had never seen it before (I'm kidding. Not sure if there were only two), Issa Rae shared with us how she began her journey of creating ABG and how important it is for you to tell your own story in your own voice. She made some really great points and I would totally share them with you if I could find my notes from that evening. Pray for me y'all. I'm scatterbrained right now. Oh but what I do remember is that during the Q&A when I mentioned that I was one half of a blog called Black Girls Like Us, she said "Oh yeah! I know you guys! I didn't know you lived in Nashville! Cool!"  Seriously, how awesome is that?!  My question for Issa was how did she handle negative comments and the intrusiveness that comes with being in the public eye, particularly from The Internets. Her answer was simply to just keep creating and don't let it get to you.  Issa has dealt with her share of criticism concerning everything from ABG to a pair of glasses she wore in a picture that was posted on Instagram.  Still she keeps her head and continues to create and push forward.  I love that.  I enjoyed meeting her afterwards too.  She was funny, real, humble and very gracious.

Me to Tia: Issa said "Tell Tia I said hi!"
Tia: OMG we're famous...sorta. Okay not really. 

The last season of ABG definitely saw its share of criticism. While I'll admit that much like The Office, the earlier episodes seem to be my faves,  we need to support this sista as much as possible.  She's a trailblazer and I love that she is now able to provide opportunities for other content creators as well.  We need to encourage her and anyone that is stepping up and getting behind the camera to provide more positive diverse content versus getting behind a laptop and complaining all day long.  For that Issa Rae gets my prayers and support.  I can't wait to see what her bright future holds for her.

"At the end of the day it's up to us to create the content we want to see."- Issa Rae

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