Yesterday's news that Issa Rae (the Awkward Black Girl herself) had paired up with Shonda Rhimes and sold I Hate L.A. Dudes to ABC, is exactly the kind of news I've been wanting to read, and always love to read!
And if you're a content creator with similar goals, hopes and dreams of your own, this should excite and inspire you.
What a lot of you may not know is that Issa Rae was one of the earliest contributors to Shadow & Act. There - the cat's out of the bag. There were 6 of us initially, each running our own separate black cinema blogs, back in 2008/2009; and eventually, we all thought it would be a good idea to combine our efforts into a single web space, since we were all reaching the same audience - although, with different voices.
And Shadow & Act was born in April 2009.
There was even a podcast, which included all of us from time to time, in round-table fashion.
Obviously, Issa Rae moved on, likely because she was more interested in creating content, than writing about content, or writing about creators of content.
That was in 2009; skip ahead to early 2011, February, some 2 years later, when I logged into my Facebook account as I did daily, scrolled down my feed (before all the horrible changes Facebook made), and I saw this post from Issa Rae - a YouTube file she shared for something with a title that read: Ep 1 | ABG | The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl.
Curious, I clicked the play button, and within seconds, there she was, in a car, spitting out some obscenely hilarious rap lyrics, while driving down some unknown LA street. This wasn't the Issa Rae that I knew - although I didn't know her that well. But from what I did know of her, I wouldn't have expected this. So it was a surprise, although a pleasant, extremely amusing one. I remember thinking just how courageous she was for doing this.
At the time, I had no idea what she had in store; if this was just some one-time fun thing that she'd done, and that would be it; or if there it was part of some grand plan.
There was really no pre-release marketing, no hype to get audiences excited for the series that was to come. She just posted this *thing* that she'd created, on Facebook, and then several sites (including S&A, Clutch and others) picked it up instantaneously, you folks immediately loved it (based on the comments), it soon went viral, accompanied by lots of conversation around it - all of which (and then some) encouraged Issa Rae to produce and release a second episode.
I recall posting a comment on her Facebook page before the second episode was released, saying that the pressure was then on, given how well episode 1 had performed; expectations would be really high for episode 2.
But she was already fully aware that fact!
A month later came episode 2; and then episode 3 after another month; episode 4 after another month, and so on, and so forth, winning countless new fans with every new installment.
And then came July 2011, 5 months after the first episode debuted, when Issa Rae launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000 to shoot the remaining episodes of season one of the web series. The month-long campaign ended up raising almost double that figure - over $56,000; and if it wasn't already clear before then that there was an excitement for ABG, the immense success of this Kickstarter campaign should've quelled any doubts.
Then came more episodes, more press, more awareness, more fans, signing with UTA, meeting Donald Glover, a college tour, expansion of the brand (like guest-starring in episodes of Black & Sexy TV's The Number, and teaming with them to produce RoomieLoverFriends), the Lena Dunham Girls debate and why ABG deserved a similar shot on the small screen (although that was maybe mostly an S&A conversation), the Pharrell connection and his I Am Other YouTube channel which likely led to even further exposure, RATCHETPIECE Theatre, and finally, some 10 million (minimum) total views later, yesterday's news that she'd be taking I Hate L.A. Dudes to ABC, courtesy of one Shonda Rhimes - only one of the most powerful showrunners on network TV right now, with a few critically and commercially-acclaimed series already to her name.
Naturally, we hope I Hate L.A. Dudes will be a notable addition to her growing library of work.
But as I started this entry saying, if you're a content creator, diligently working towards your own similar objectives, this news really should excite you!
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