When Issa Rae wrapped up a year’s worth of projects, she did not expect to be watching them all from quarantine. First came The Photograph, which made it to theaters just before the world went into lockdown. Then came The Lovebirds, originally set for an April release but now out on Netflix. And then there’s the fourth season of Insecure, which has been airing on HBO since April. And while Insecure’s fans thrive on Twitter, watching it alone is not the same for Rae.
“I want to be able to watch it with my friends,” Rae said on GQ’s Instagram Live show The Drop-In. “It’s not the same to text them. During other seasons, I would be at a writer’s house or an actor’s house watching it.”
She’s not getting too down about it. She’s running a virtual writers’ room for Insecure’s fifth season—which she says is far more efficient despite the disadvantage of not being able to riff off each other. And she can still offer some of her golden nuggets of hard-earned wisdom, whether it’s straight-up career advice or a guide to friendship breakups.
“How do you know when it’s time to let a friendship go?” she pondered, reflecting on the deteriorating friendship Insecure has been exploring this season. “You assess the stages of your life that you’re in. If that person isn’t rooting for you anymore, if that person isn’t amenable to change, then they gotta go. ”
Of course, the friends you do hold onto are also some of your best creative resources, especially if they happen to be trapped at home with you. “If you are jobless at this point but still manage to feel creative, this is an opportunity to hit up your friends,” Rae emphasized. “Make shit virtually. Whoever comes out of this being able to make content that can live without a huge crew and can still be compelling is gonna win. And if you’re fortunate enough to be quarantined with other people, this is the time. This is the worst best time.”
Rae also ran through a few of the countless idols that have shaped and motivated her work, name-checking legends like Eddie Murphy, Larry David, Queen Latifah, and Larenz Tate. “Larenz Tate is still fine. He’s all power. At the time when Love Jones came out, he was so versatile and he did not get his flowers. I hope he gets, like, a Lifetime Achievement Award or something.”
As for her own projects, Rae is focused on weaving the global changes playing out right now into Insecure’s next season and looking forward to exploring more purely dramatic roles once crews can start filming again. Of equal importance: she’s worked out the rules of Hennessy, which dictate that once there’s less than a glass’ worth left, sipping directly from the bottle is totally kosher. Act accordingly.