Issa Rae is no stranger to the spotlight.
The actress and writer shot to stardom as the creator and star of HBO’s Insecure, which ran for five seasons from 2016 to 2021 and earned her four Emmy nominations, and she’s used that meteoric ascent as inspiration on her new show Rap Sh!t, which premieres July 21 on HBO Max.
Rap Sh!t follows the the journey of Mia (KaMillion) and Shawna (Aida Osman), two estranged high school friends in Miami who reunite to form a rap group. As Mia and Shawna gain popularity, they become entrenched in the constant battle to have a dynamic social media presence in order to establish relevancy. It’s a struggle that Issa knows all too well.
“There is definitely that pressure on the personal side. I tend to be online more when I have something to promote,” Issa exclusively told E! News. “When I don’t, I like to live and not really think about that.”
Issa and Rap Sh!t both recognize the power in controlling your own social media narrative—with the understanding that it’s often just a façade.
“It can be deceptive. We’re all just comfortable with that kind of deception,” Issa said. “There’s something fascinating about playing in those areas. We watch Shawna and Mia navigate that. Shawna is miserable that she is where she is, and she has to get on posting and putting on a great face like, ‘This is my music!’ She’s tired that she’s not getting the engagement that she would normally get.”