You can find all the episodes here
Awkward Black Girl is an independent web series that can be streamed on Youtube. It stars Issa Rae and an ensemble cast that uses humor to tackle issues like race, gender, sex, and the cumbersome idiosyncrasies that make life dynamic. Most of all, the show is really funny! The storytelling in the show feels very human, and it adds a comedic vulnerability that richly describes even the simplest of social situations.
It’s refreshing to see independent media that features diverse and multidimensional characters. However, even more interesting than the show’s quality are how the show started and the methods for sustaining it. Issa Rae described the show’s inception in a post on the Huffington Post:
When I initially created the series in January, I had a camera, a temporary office job and no budget. The “Awkward Black Girl” character had been swimming around in my head for two years and I knew in my mind that if I didn’t shoot the first episode at that very moment, I never would. So, I called up one of my best friends from high school, Devin Walker and asked her to shoot the episode for me guerrilla style. “I’m down!” she exclaimed, “But you have to tell me what to do.” I then reached out to another friend from Stanford, choreographer/dancer Andrew Allan James, and asked him if he’d play “A,” my bugaboo office fling. I offered him gas money for his trek from Hawthorne to Baldwin Hills, L.A. and he scoffed, “Are you kidding? You don’t have to pay my gas. Please. I want to do this.”
After the show’s initial run, the producers decided to raise money to compensate the cast and crew, as well as increase the show’s quality. They set a goal of $30,000. After raising over $40.000 in supporter donations, the show is set to continue production soon. More importantly than the fact that the show raised the money, was the fact that they turned to the internet and viewer-support for generating financial support.
Blogs also played a HUGE role in terms of spreading the word about our campaign. While Tracy and I strategized about reaching out to some of the publications who had interviewed me in the past, I was pleasantly surprised to find that sites like Shadow & Act, Clutch Magazine, TheLoop21, Black Girl with Long Hair, and countless other blogs took it upon themselves to post the link to our campaign, urging their readerbase to support it. Many presented ABG as opportunity for viewers to put their money where their mouth was and support the change in media they wished to see.
I’m excited to see where it goes from here, and perhaps this is a template for alternative media that isn’t dependent on corporate control. This can potentially change not only the type of entertainment people consume, but also encourage more people to begin creating narratives themselves. Issa Rae concludes:
All in all, this campaign has demonstrated to me that: 1) people are tired of mainstream media’s limited and confined portrayal of people of color; 2) they are very much willing to unite behind a project they believe in to change that limited portrayal; and 3) people ARE willing to support and watch web series as a legitimate form of entertainment. The majority of backers for this project were complete strangers to Tracy and I, and it has been extremely touching to see how devoted they’ve been to ensuring a different depiction of themselves on screen.
Innovation on the internet has been a consistent theme as the Web has expanded as an entertainment medium. However, now that People of Color are beginning to expand their digital footprint, I think we are going to see even more creativity online. It is also worth noting that the Awkward Black Girl phenomenon could have a similar impact to Barack Obama winning the Iowa primary. It is a common stereotype that Black people don’t financially support other Black people, but perhaps this series and its rising popularity can open the floodgates of a new “Renaissance” in the digital age. For now, let’s just revel in the fact that Tyler Perry can no longer claim to be the only independent media visionary… SWAG.
There is even a Donald Glover sighting during the show…
You can find all the episodes here