Issa Rae Says This 1 Movie ‘Made’ Her ‘Want to Be a Filmmaker’

Issa Rae became a filmmaker in large part because of a drama made in 2000. Ahead, find out which film inspired her to make movies her job. 

During an interview with Variety published on Jan. 28, 2020, 35-year-old Rae opened up about her career and explained how she came to be a director, producer, actress, and writer.

Rae: ‘That’s what inspired me to at least try it’

As a kid growing up in Calif., Rae felt inspired by what she saw when she turned on the TV or watched a movie. 

“The ’90s had lots of black television and film … a lot of the shows were helmed by black people,” she told Variety. “That’s what inspired me to at least try it.”

Will Smith starred in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin Lawrence led his own sitcom Martin, twins Tamera and Tia Mowry starred in Disney’s Sister, Sister, and Marlon and Shawn Wayans starred in The Wayans Bros. These were just a few of the black-led TV shows and movies of the time. 

‘Love and Basketball’ inspired Rae to ‘be a filmmaker’

Gina Prince-Blythewood’s Love and Basketball made Rae want to create movies. The 2000 drama starring Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan followed the two actors as they played long-time friends who both dreamt of playing professional basketball. While working toward their shared goal, the two characters fell in love and had to figure out how to make their relationship work without sacrificing their basketball careers. 

Rae saw herself in not only the characters but the movie’s setting.

“It took place in my neighborhood in Los Angeles,” she said. “It was a story about a tomboy who played basketball, which I identified with. Omar Epps was gorgeous, and Sanaa Latham was every woman in a way that I hadn’t seen before — a relatable black woman.” 

She continued, saying what she loved about the story depicted onscreen and the production of the film itself. 

“And then behind the scenes, it was directed and written by a black woman. It just felt so grounded,” she explained. “It was just a regular love story that wasn’t rooted in any kind of trauma. It wasn’t rooted in any major deceptions.”

““It made me want to be a filmmaker,” she added.

Clearly,  Love and Basketball made a big impact on Rae who had been 15-years-old when Love and Basketball opened in theaters on April 16, 2000. 

Rae got her start on YouTube starring, producing, and directing The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. In 2016, she began starring in the HBO series, Insecure, playing a woman dealing with awkward situations she constantly finds herself in. Season 4 of Insecure is scheduled to return on April 12, 2020.

Issa Rae at the 2019 Soul Train Awards
Issa Rae on Nov. 17, 2019, at the 2019 Soul Train Awards | Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

 For her work on the show, Rae received a 2017 Peabody Award along with Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.

What’s next for Issa Rae? 

See Rae in Stella Meghie’s The Photograph, out Feb. 14, 2020. She plays a museum curator living in New York City who falls in love with a reporter (Lakeith Stanfield) after he inquires about photographs taken by the late mother of Rae’s character. 

Rae also might be coming to a home near you. She’s the new voice of Google Assistant.