Issa Rae Amusingly Recalls That Time She Tried To Sell A Pilot To ABC Full Of Profanity

Issa Rae announcing a new venture

From her YouTube series Awkward Black Girl to Lovebirds, which was one of Netflix's top films, Issa Rae’s career has been on fire with no signs of stopping. But Rae wasn’t always everyone’s favorite multihyphenated creator. The writer-actress-producer wrote screenplays throughout her childhood and adolescence. Since then, Rae has grown into one of Hollywood’s top go-getters. Recently, the creator recalled a time she sent a profanity-filled pilot to ABC.

In recent years, Issa Rae hit her stride starring, creating and highlighting content depicting Black culture for wider audiences. But her love for creating came after watching director Gina Prince-Blythewood’s directorial debut Love and Basketball. Apparently, that inspiration led to her profanity-laced script. Rae told Rolling Stone:

My mom drove me because I missed the postmark deadline. I put the little envelope under the door and then I got feedback a couple months later. [It] was basically like, ‘This is laced with profanity. Like, it’s ABC! What was I thinking?’

Given Issa Rae’s inexperience as a writer at the time, it was obvious why ABC turned down her spec script. Getting a profanity-laced script from a high schooler would’ve shocked any major network. She even spoke on sending scripts to CBS and NBC as well. At least, Rae was able to turn those early rejections into teachable moments.

Issa Rae also revealed a full-circle moment that happened over a decade later. The writer-actress eventually made her way to ABC through a development deal with fellow multihyphenate Shonda Rhimes. But the pilot Rae created for the network didn’t work out. She admitted to pushing her voice and stories to the side to fit ABC’s standards and rules. That deal was a wonderful opportunity but ultimately wasn’t a fit for her or the network.

Issa Rae didn’t have to worry about conforming or standards in her next venture. Her HBO deal allowed her to have all the profanity and awkwardness she wanted as seen by her hit series Insecure’s success. HBO gave Rae the freedom she needed to create one of television’s best comedies. That freedom led to the acclaimed series reaching its fifth and final season. But Insecure's end doesn’t mean the end of Rae’s career as she has multiple television and film projects in the work for Warner Bros.

As evident by Issa Rae’s current success, her skills as a writer have grown over time. That’s why Rae is one of my favorite Hollywood creatives. She isn’t afraid to take embarrassing moments and turn them into teachable ones. While it’s sad to see Insecure end, Rae seems ready to move on with the next chapter of her career with her multiple ventures. At this moment, the creator has done something many in Hollywood aspire to do – take control of her career without any shame.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).