Issa Rae, a 27-year old entertainment producer, director, and actor has quickly made a name for herself by producing and acting in her very own 1-year old web series entitled, "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" (ABG) the last and most successful of three web series produced by Rae.
Web series or television seems to be old news, but some people may be asking what is a web series and how long have they been around? Only recently have web series become more popular in the cyber world. This could be a result of the increasing availability of the Internet and improved video streaming technology on mobile phones.
According to his 2009 blog titled Televisual, Aymar Jean Christian, a student at the University of Pennsylvania explains that a web series is a series of episodes released on the Internet or mobile devices, as part of the newly emerging medium called "web television".
“This has allowed independent producers to create low budget series distributed on the Internet, but more recently major television production companies are using the Internet as a means of promoting their TV shows as well as developing specific media and shows for the Internet,” said Christian.
Video streaming websites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Hulu are making it easier for people to access web series. Based on a 2009 article from tvweek.com, in 1995, New York advertising employee Scott Zakarin convinced his employers to finance an online television drama along the lines of the contemporary television drama Melrose Place. The Spot became the first episodic fiction web soap opera. Since then, many others have followed suit and began creating web series, including Rae.
“My most popular and successful show, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, currently averages 380,000 views per episode, with almost 20,000 fans on Facebook and nearly 8,000 Twitter followers since its launch [last] February.” Rae said in The Huffington Post's blog in August of 2011.
According to Vibe magazine, the protagonist in this series is human, flawed and free of stereotypes typical of Black female characters. Her boss is annoying, her co-workers are bizarre and all she really wants is to find love and be happy. The concept is simple yet brilliantly constructed as the show’s writing inspires laughs without trying too hard, and reminds even the coolest person that there is a little gawky behavior in all of us.
ABG has been featured on several sites and publications, including CNN, NBC, BET.com, the Huffington Post, Essence Magazine, and many others. Rae has won several awards for all three of her web series, but specifically, Rae won the Shorty Award, which recognizes the best in social web across all forms of media from Twitter to Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube, but the public racism was probably something she did not look forward to. On a positive note, Rae has recently signed with UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment with plans to turn ABG into a cable half-hour comedy.
”Even though J (Rae’s character) is Black, the situations she goes through are universal. I can relate to Jerry Seinfeld’s pet peeves and Liz Lemon’s insecurities, but it bothers me that there aren’t people of color in those roles,” Rae said in a recent interview with Vibe magazine. Hopefully Rae’s success and attitude will help other Black people in the entertainment industry to follow in her footsteps and begin to think outside of the box and get more creative.
Read more at CNN Blogs.