Feeding the minds of the future, Dillard University served up its new season of Brain Food with Actress, Writer, and Producer Issa Rae. Gathering its largest audience since the beginning of the Lecture Series, hundreds crowded into Lawless Memorial Chapel on Dillard’s Campus on Sept. 6th to see the television star.
“This is a real coup for Dillard to have Issa Rae who has one of the hottest shows on television right now,” said Walter Kimbrough, Dillard’s President.
Brain Food is a Lecture Series started by Kimbrough in 2013. In conceiving the public event, Kimbrough recognized the numerous festivals in New Orleans dedicated to food and saw the need as a university to feed minds through intellectual sustenance.
“This series hopes to ensure this community has the proper intellectual diet to remain healthy and happy,” the university noted in a statement.
Rae shared that her work on screen and through the initiatives she heads up is allowing her to challenge what people see or know about the experiences of Black people. Rae is currently the actress, writer, producer, and director of the television show Insecure on HBO. The show premiered in October 2016 after Rae’s success with her web series Awkward Black Girl. In selecting Rae for the Brain Food Series, Dillard noted in a statement that the actress transforms her life experiences as an awkward Black girl into a “contemporary Black experience of love, friendship, and professional pursuits that’s primarily told through the lens of women.”
Rae leads an initiative called Color Creative within her production company to broaden the opportunities for people of color behind the camera. The company provides opportunities for people of color to produce pilots that can be presented to an audience in order to rally support for their shows. Inspired by the support Producer Pharrell Williams gave to Awkward Black Girl in its second season, Rae said she wants to give back to the next generation of writers, directors and producers.
“We produce the content of up-and-coming writers,” Rae said. “We recently collaborated with a production company to produce a pilot for a series from someone who just submitted to our contest.”
Projects like these help Rae to stay humble in Hollywood as her career continues to take off with her hit show. She said she stays connected with her fans, and at the lecture she moved through the crowds, without security, to engage the community that came out to see her. She joked that the best way to stay humble was: “I sit down.” Rae added that while some actors do let fame consume them, and she does not want to be solely remembered for being famous.
“Once you let this just become you, it becomes all you have, and I never want this to be all that I have,” Rae said.