#Okay100Women

Who is Issa Rae?

The creator of 'Insecure' and 'Awkard Black Girl' makes OkayAfrica's '100 Women List' celebrating African women who are making waves, shattering ceilings, and uplifting their communities.

The self-proclaimed “awkward black girl" first captured audiences with her hit web series (The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl), which premiered on YouTube in 2011. Born Jo-Issa Rae Diop to a Senegalese father and an American mother, the LA-native grew up between California, Maryland and Senegal. Rae attended Stanford University where she studied African American studies before beginning a career in the arts.


Awkward Black Girl became a social media phenomenon, garnering over 20 million views on YouTube, and winning the Shorty Award in 2013 for Best Web Show. Issa Rae spun the series into a critically acclaimed novel by the same title, released in 2015.

That same year, HBO picked up the pilot for what was to become the author, producer and show runner's game-changing television show, Insecure. The series premiered in 2016 to rave reviews and it has been picked up for a second season. Rae earned a Golden Globe nomination for "Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series," for her role as a public school teacher "Issa Dee."

Issa Rae is a brilliant self-starter with a commitment to expanding portrayals of black womanhood on television. When we watch Issa Rae on screen, we get to watch bits of ourselves. Her work gives the awkward amongst us, unprecedented permission to own our quirks and our blackness all at the same time.

-DD

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Photo Courtesy of Uzo Aduba

100 Women: Uzo Aduba Wants to Use Her Roles to Give a Voice to the Voiceless

We talk to the Emmy-winning standout of Orange is the New Black on how to be good, just as you are.

As a child Uzoamaka Aduba was insecure about a great many things. Her name and the now-famous gap in her teeth were among the number. "My mom would try to impress upon me constantly, 'Don't you know that in Nigeria, a gap is a sign of beauty? It's a sign of intelligence.' I'm like, 'We don't live in Nigeria, mom. We live in Medfield, Massachusetts.'" Thirty-seven-year-old Aduba is quite the opposite—dramatically, if you will. Currently chatting from a mountainside village in Mendoza, Argentina, she exudes total self-possession, and is crystal clear on not just her beauty and her talent, but on what she stands for ("Equality for all. Full stop.") and even her privilege.

"Whatever I think is hard is nowhere near what hard is. First solid lesson. Anything that I considered to be difficult, I don't have to reach that far back into my history and to my community stories to know what hard really looked like," the Nigerian-American actress states in a definitive tone. "Hard is moving to a country where you know no one and have five children. Hard is surviving a civil war. Hard is surviving polio. Hard is learning how to blend into a new culture without losing your own. You understand? Me figuring out which of the seven pairs of jeans I want to wear today is not hard."

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OkayAfrica's 100 Women

Yvonne Orji and Luvvie Ajayi Welcome OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2018 Honorees

Join two of last year's 100 Women honorees in celebrating 2018 list of trailblazing African women.

OkayAfrica has officially launched our annual 100 Women list to honor the many contributions of African women globally.

Last year's inaugural list featured a group of groundbreaking African woman who continue to shape culture and expand representation, and this year is no different.

Two of the women from our 2017 list, Nigerian actor, writer and comedian Yvonne Orji and her fellow Naija sister—writer, speaker and social critic Luvvie Ajayi—took the time out to share a special message of encouragement to the new honorees.

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Still from YouTube.

Yemi Alade Enlists Djimon Hounsou for New Music Video 'Remind You'

The veteran Beninese actor stars in the sultry music for Yemi Alade's latest single.

Yemi Alade shares her latest music video for her single "Remind You," and it stars none other than celebrated Hollywood actor Djimon Hounsou.

"Remind You" is a sultry R&B track from the singer's latest album, 2019's Woman of Steel. The vibrant music video, directed by Ovie Etseyatse, sees the singer gallivanting in an empty mansion in various elegant gowns. Honsou graces the screen throughout the video as well, but the two don't meet until the very end, when things take a funny and unexpected turn.

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Interview
Photo courtesy of Afro Nation.

Interview: Afro Nation Festival's Smade On Unifying Africans Across the Continent & Diaspora

As the festival prepares to make its Puerto Rico debut this spring, we sat down with Afro Nation co-founder Adesegun Adeosun aka Smade to talk about how it all started and what the future holds.

Within minutes of speaking with Adesegun Adeosun, it's apparent that Afro Nation is much more than an urban music festival.

The Afro Nation co-founder, better known as Smade, talks passionately about connecting Africans across the globe. In less than a year since its debut edition, Afro Nation has successfully done this and gone on to establish itself as the largest festival celebrating African culture on the continent and in the diaspora.

This year, Afro Nation will touch down in Puerto Rico for the first time over spring break—from the 18th to the 21st of March—on the beach of Balneario de Carolina. Headliners will include Burna Boy, Chronixx, Davido, 2Baba, Naira Marley and many more.

As the festival prepares to make its Puerto Rico debut this spring, we sat down with Smade to talk about Afro Nation, how it all started and what the future holds.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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