Barbie star calls out cancellation of Black TV shows: ‘Our stories are less of a priority’
Barbie and Insecure star Issa Rae has spoken out about the recent wave of TV cancellations, suggesting that important Black stories aren’t being told because of it.
Emmy-nominated Issa Rae, who rose to fame with her YouTube series The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl in the early 2010s, has made a number of successful series centred around Black characters and storylines.
The 39-year-old created HBO’s award-winning series Insecure, which was partially based on The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl, and ran from 2016 to 2021.
She also produced and starred in HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show and created HBO’s Rap Sh!t, both of which have been cancelled in the last year.
Rap Sh!t was cancelled earlier this month, sparking a wave of outrage on social media.
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“It’s already happening,” she explained. “You’re seeing so many Black shows get cancelled, you’re seeing so many executives – especially on the DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion] side – get canned.
“You’re seeing very clearly now that our stories are less of a priority.”
According to a new study by USC Annenberg’s Inclusion Initiative, just three per cent of the top-grossing films of 2023 were directed by women of colour – and only one of those women was Black.
Though Rae starred in the box office’s biggest hit last year, Barbie, which was directed by Greta Gerwig, a concerning 88 per cent of the top-grossing films of 2023 were directed by men.
“I am pessimistic, because there’s no one holding anybody accountable – and I can, sure, but also at what cost? I can’t force you to make my stuff,” Rae continued.
“It’s made me take more steps to try to be independent down the line if I have to.”
In addition to A Black Lady Sketch Show and Rap Sh!t, other Black-led TV shows to get the axe in recent years include voguing reality series Legendary, Love Life, Grown-ish, Ziwe, A League of Their Own and South Side.
Alongside Black-led shows, TV series with queer storylines and characters are also facing the chop at an alarming rate.
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