Issa Rae said yes to playing President Barbie even though she ‘hates the color pink’

Issa Rae is President Barbie in Oppenheimer Barbie. While Issa doesn’t have the kind of promotional commitments as Margot Robbie, Issa was happy enough to do some interviews to promote the film, plus all of the other projects she’s working on at the moment. She’s working on so much, she didn’t even say one word about her personal life – she had a surprise wedding to Louis Diame back in 2021, and she rarely mentions her husband or their life together. It’s kind of cool how she just… keeps it to herself. It reminds me of Kerry Washington and her husband. Anyway, Issa chatted with the Guardian about playing with Black dolls, investing in her community (Inglewood), and whether she would ever consider doing a twenty-years-later version of Insecure. Some highlights:

How she got the role of President Barbie: “Basically, Greta said, very sweetly: ‘I would love for you to be my president.’ I was like: ‘Awww, that’s so sweet! And also just wrong. Obviously I would not be a good president….[But] I hate the colour pink. I’ve never thought that I looked good in pink … So this press tour has been …. But I’ve been taking one for the team!”

After ‘Insecure’, she wanted to not be in front of the camera for a while: “After Insecure was done, I willingly let myself go. I was like, I’m eating everything! I’m not working out! I’m not gonna be in front of a camera for a long time. And then instantly, when I found out I got Barbie, I was like: ‘Oh no! I gotta look like one!’ Fortunately Greta’s movie was inclusive of Barbies with all different body types and in that way, I felt less pressure and less down on myself.” She was even able to help design President Barbie’s look – a ballgown – for signing bills into law. “I think it’s just that we’ve internalised so much about Barbie … it has become representative of the perfect female body and also denigrated as a bimbo in some ways. But I think the company aims for it not to be that, and I think the movie aims to have a conversation about that.”

In addition to her production company, Hoorae Media, she has other businesses: She has Sienna Naturals, the vegan haircare range she co-owns with her sister-in-law, and Hilltop Coffee + Kitchen, which recently opened a fourth branch in Downtown LA. The flagship is situated – where else? – in Inglewood. “I wrote in coffee shops all the time, and they weren’t in my neighbourhood. I wanted a Black [owned] coffee shop, just down the street from me.”

She’s bossy: “My mom was the one who described me that way; like ‘Stop being so bossy!’ And I always had, I guess, a negative association with being a boss … But I just was always drawn to it! A lot of my games were like: ‘Oh, I’m a restaurant owner’ or, ‘Oh, I’m part of this company and I’m sooo busy!’” All the key Barbie cast members were asked to think about the child – or adult – who might have played with the doll they would become: “Hari [Nef, who plays Doctor Barbie] cracks me up because her version of whoever plays with her is like a gay man who’s a collector. But mine is very much the childhood version of me, that was bossy and that wanted to be a leader, but also didn’t really know what a president did.”

She played with Black dolls: “In some ways that’s how I knew that I identified as being Black; because my mum and aunt were so adamant about: ‘We’re getting you Black dolls! We want you to see yourself!’ I was just like, ‘OK, great, please do.’ I didn’t understand why it was so serious, until I got a little bit older.”

The possibility of an And Just Like That-style revival for Insecure down the line: “Nah … I don’t want that. I know that people wonder … but we told this story and I just don’t want to f–k that up, y’know?” Nor was Insecure burdened by the same 00s-era insensitivities that partially prompted Sex and the City’s do-over, I suggest. “Well, I hope not, but obviously you never know. In 20 years from now – sh-t, in five years – we might be examining it again. And I think that’s also part of it. Like, I don’t want to be in that weird position to ‘correct’ what was a show for the very specific time period.”

[From The Guardian]

It’s interesting that she’s talking about her body and not wanting to be on camera for a while post-Insecure, because throughout the run of that series, Issa really did have a major glow-up. She was always beautiful, but you could tell that she was taking better care of herself, she toned up, she started having more fun with fashion. I guess she was like “that’s enough of that.” I’m glad that Greta Gerwig didn’t ask all of the Barbie actresses to, you know, lose weight and try to get the Barbie figure. I hope that the movie deals with that issue as well. And how can Issa hate the color pink when she looks SO GOOD in pink?

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red, Cover Images.

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6 Responses to “Issa Rae said yes to playing President Barbie even though she ‘hates the color pink’”

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  1. Jais says:

    She looks really good in pink though. But yeah, she’s probably ready for some new colors.

  2. ariel says:

    Every single blurb/interview that read about Barbie just makes me want to see it more!!!

    *i am avoiding actual reviews, i do want to be surprised by it.

    It bet she makes a great President Barbie

  3. MSTJ says:

    I like how well she’s managing her career and personal life. I also like that she is pursuing all her goals, not just boxed in as an actress. I don’t expect that it’s easy to get it all off the ground but she’s kicking ass out there. You go girl!

  4. Lucía says:

    I *loved* Insecure. I went in expecting a comedy, but it was so much more than that. And I agree that it ended on the right note.

  5. Snuffles says:

    They’ve managed to completely suck me and I got my tickets for both Barbie and Oppenheimer. I’m going to see Oppenheimer with my parents on Saturday and a Sunday matinee of Barbie for myself.

  6. Emmy Rae says:

    I definitely relate to being a child who wanted to be in charge but was totally vague on the details. Although for me as an adult I’ve become the opposite, I do not want to be a boss or CEO or director or anything because I’m tired of people thinking I’m a bossy bitch just for having a plan. I’m glad Issa pushed on and obviously she knows how to be the boss with all the projects she’s done.

    I would never have thought that the Barbie movie would require so much universe building inside the production! It’s like everyone had to be method acting at some level in that environment. It sounds exhausting but I imagine the result will speak for itself.