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Issa Rae Feels There “Aren’t a Lot of Smart Executives Anymore,” Expresses Concern for Hollywood’s Future

Issa Rae is getting candid about her thoughts on the current state of the entertainment industry.

In a cover story for Time magazine published online Thursday, the actress/writer/producer blamed Hollywood executives for going back on their promises to increase representation and diversity.

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“I’ve never seen Hollywood this scared and clueless, and at the mercy of Wall Street,” Rae said, before later adding, “I’m sorry, but there aren’t a lot of smart executives anymore. And a lot of them have aged out and are holding on to their positions and refusing to let young blood get in.”

The Insecure star feels executives are getting too involved with the creative choices surrounding projects.

“Now these conglomerate leaders are also making the decisions about Hollywood. Y’all aren’t creative people. Stick to the money,” she said. “The people that are taking chances are on platforms like TikTok: That’s what’s getting the eyeballs of the youth. So you’re killing your own industry.”

The Barbie star’s comments came just weeks after her show Rap Sh!t was canceled at Max following its second season. It also comes on the heels of a tough 2023 for Rae, which she described as “not fun at all.”

Though Rae had a lot of onscreen success last year with the Oscar-nominated films Barbie and American Fiction, the reality TV show, Sweet Life: Los Angeles, that she produced, was also canceled. And to add to it all, Rae also told the magazine that she had to lay off eight employees during the writers and actors strikes over the summer.

At this point, the Black Lady Sketch Show actress-producer feels Hollywood executives are just wanting to play it safe with “universal” stories, which she said only ends up hurting diversity initiatives.

“There is a bitterness of just like, who suffers from you guys pulling back? People of color always do,” Rae added. Her claim is also backed up by a UCLA diversity report, which found that racial and gender diversity in theatrical film in 2022 regressed to 2019 levels after trending upward for three years.

Though Rae is currently under a five-year overall deal with what was known as WarnerMedia when she signed it in 2021, an extension of a relationship with HBO that began in 2016, that hasn’t stopped her from pondering other opportunities.

Rae told Time that she feels “secure” in her relationship with HBO at the moment, but she told Porter earlier this week that her show’s recent cancellations have her looking at alternate avenues for her as a creator in the future.

“You’re seeing so many Black shows get canceled, you’re seeing so many executives — especially on the DEI side — get canned. You’re seeing very clearly now that our stories are less of a priority,” Rae said at the time. “It’s made me take more steps to try to be independent down the line if I have to.”

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