Crowd lines up hour before to see Issa Rae at Brain Food talk Sept. 6

Kaelin Bass| Courtbouillon
Actress-producer Issa Rae gestures as she speaks to university President Walter Kimbrough and audience recently. 

The writer and creator of the HBO’s “Insecure” said she was shaped by her childhood travels, which allowed her to constantly reinvent herself.

Issa Rae spoke to a crowd of more than 800 people at Dillard University’s Brain Food lecture on Sept. 6 in Lawless Chapel. A line formed an hour before the lecture started.

She said her dad didn’t think his kids had enough discipline, so he moved them to Dakar, the capital of Senegal, for a couple of years; then she moved to Maryland.

“Moving around a lot kind of shaped who I am today; there was always an opportunity to reinvent myself,” she said.

Rae received a degree in African American Studies from Stanford University, where she also made music videos, and wrote and directed plays. The producer-actress-songwriter from Los Angeles parlayed the award-winning web series “The Adventures of an Awkward Black Girl” into the HBO popular series “Insecure.” Along the way was “Choir” and “Exhale” (2013).

She said she created the “Awkward Black Girl” webcast to create something not represented in mainstream media, and it has inspired audiences of different ethnic backgrounds, genders and ages. She said her transition to the HBO series has been “great.”

“You are wearing the acting hat, the producing hat, the catering hat. You’re giving people rides; it’s just much that you are doing to make it happen,” she said.

Rae advised students to connect with colleagues who are “equally focused and as passionate as you are.” She said she found an amazing group of people to keep her motivated.

Next up? “Ultimately, the biggest goal that I want to do is I want to run a studio. I want to have a network and support people that I am fans of. So it’s just a growing process.”

(Megan Reed contributed to this report.)