Issa Rae admits that back in school, most guys didn’t find her attractive, but she feels that not being the “hot girl” helped her concentrate on developing her career.

The Insecure star reveals in the April Essence cover story that being ignored by boys allowed her to focus on “being smart, being accomplished and being respected.”  That’s why, these days, Issa wants the opposite sex to appreciate her intelligence.

“As corny as it sounds, I want you to just like my mind,” she says. “I think a part of it just came from figuring out that the guys I like, I’m not their type. Learning that early on made me realize there’s no point in valuing the physical because it wasn’t going to get me anywhere. So what can I control, and what can I bring to the table? How can I be valued in this way?”


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Four years ago, when all I had was a web series and a book, @Essence put me on my first cover with four incredible women I look up to: Ava, Mara, Shonda and Ms. Debbie. It was their “Game Changers” issue and I kept thinking, “I can’t believe they chose me.” That cover meant so much to me because it validated my work on a platform I respected AND it was a nurturing recognition of promise, a promise that I didn’t necessarily see in myself at the time. Four years later — entering the fourth season of my TV show, and shooting my fourth movie in New York — they honored me with this solo cover. Thank you, Essence, for helping me to deliver on that promise you saw years ago, and changing the game for me. 📸: @itayshaphoto Hair: @lovingyourhair Face: @joannasimkin Fits: @jasonrembert

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Putting her romantic life on hold, Rae then focused on her career, leading to the creation of her breakout 2011 web series, Awkward Black Girl.

“When you don’t have much to do or you don’t have plans on Friday night, you’re making up a character who does,” Issa says. “That was an outlet for me. I fantasized all the time about having a different life. And that manifested in creating characters and worlds and scenarios. I’ve definitely let my imagination run free.”

These days, the 34-year-old actress/writer/producer is in heavy demand in Hollywood. Her upcoming movies include American Princess, Empress of Serenity, The Photograph, and The Lovebirds.  On April 12, she’ll star alongside Regina Hall in the comedy Little.

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