The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

The Student News Site of North Carolina A&T State University

The A&T Register

Issa Rae “Standin’ on Business” with Aggies

Brantley Gibson
Issa Rae sits down with Toya Bynum to speak to students at N.C. A&T during the first Chacellor Spaker Series of the semester.

In the Corbett Sports Center yesterday, CEO, producer, actress, and writer Issa Rae spoke as part of the Harold L. Martin Sr. Chancellor’s Speaker Series. Class of ’05 alumnus Toya Bynum moderated the discussion.

The “Standin’ on Business” discussion, which focused on development and entrepreneurship, gave attendees—including students—a fantastic chance to obtain knowledge and resources to help them achieve their entrepreneurial objectives. To “stand on business” is, in essence, to carry out and satisfy a c

ommitment, duty, or responsibility that is related to “taking care of business.”

Chancellor Martin opened the event with his remarks stating how for each of the speaker series hosted, every topic discussed has had “standing on business” at the forefront.

“No one can tell me that A&T’s students aren’t amongst the brightest and most resourceful students in the world,” Martin proclaimed. “It is for that reason that we continue to do these speaker series.”

Brantley Gibson

Rae initially gained recognition for her award-winning online series and the New York Times bestseller that went along with it, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” thanks to her own flair and contagious sense of humor. After that, she developed and starred in the Peabody Award–winning HBO series “Insecure,” for which she was nominated for two Golden Globes and several Emmys. Rae has also established herself as a major motion picture star, appearing in “The Photograph” and “The Lovebirds.”

 When asked what her storytelling process is like and how she made sure “Insecure” and “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” was authentic to black culture, Rae said that starting with her friends, family, and they way she envisions black people being portrayed is what allows her to just “write words on paper and put it out there.”

Rae established HOORAE, a multifaceted media company, in 2020 with the goal of breaking down barriers in storytelling and representation. The company’s divisions include ColorCreative, its management division, Raedio, a music label and music supervision company, and HOORAE Media, which produces content for film, TV, and digital media. Rae has also increased the scope of her executive producer slate through a related contract, adding the Emmy Award-nominated “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and the series “Rap SH*T.”

Brantley Gibson

Having had her own struggles with “fitting into Hollywood”, Bynum asked what Issa felt like she needed to “fix” about herself in order to fit in.

“It is less about trying to fit into Hollywood, and more so about making them see how I will make it work. The industry does not define me,” Rae said. “Until we as black women are in positions of power, nothing will change. Until then, I’m making moves to not have to ask for permission.”

Rae continues to be personally and professionally committed to South Los Angeles. She established herself close to her childhood home before establishing the HOORAE headquarters in the center of South LA. Her ownership of Hilltop Cafe + Kitchen gives locals much-needed jobs and opportunities, and her involvement in the nonprofit group Destination Crenshaw further her aim of recognizing Black Angelenos. Rae also keeps redefining Black wellness and beauty as co-owner of the Black-owned and run hair care brand Sienna Naturals.

Rae’s childhood plays a big part in who is today and is shown throughout her characters on television.

“My mom was very intentional in making sure I knew where I came from. She instilled pride in me, but also allowed me to embrace being uncomfortable as well as allowing me to be flawed in my own way, creating Insecure in so many ways allowed me to be a more confident storyteller,” Rae said.

Bynum’s role as moderator undoubtedly inspired and enlightened the discussion. She still has more than 20 years of expertise in corporate business, having worked for PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay snacks, Target Corporation, and Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

In addition to her work as a corporate culture cultivator for PepsiCo’s Mosaic ERG National Board (for which she recently won a global award for her exceptional leadership), Bynum also serves on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters Collin County, North Carolina A&T State University Dallas/Ft. Worth Alumni Chapter, and The HBCU Project, where she serves as both chairman and board president. She received the Dr. Velma Speight Young Alumna Award from North Carolina A&T State University in 2023.

Brantley Gibson

To finish the discussion, Bynum asked Rae to give some words of advice to the upcoming new generation of filmmakers, producers, and creatives of all kinds. Rae made clear that she did not go to film school or have a ton of experience working with technical things so it was important for her to rely on those within her circle who did have these experiences.

“This is your creative community right here. My own journey relied on me leaning on those friends I had in college,” Rae stated. “You never know who you’re sitting next to. Stay in contact. Hold each other accountable.”

The Chancellor’s Speaker Series at A&T offers a forum for addressing and debating complex and significant societal issues by bringing nationally renowned speakers to campus for interaction and discourse. The series is a manifestation of the university’s dedication to fostering an environment that values knowledge and stimulates innovative dialogue.

For more info on past guest speakers and upcoming guests to come visit the website here.

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