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Signature event draws hundreds to Dillard’s campus as HBO star discusses her life and encourages students to pursue their passion now.

Signature event draws hundreds to Dillard’s campus as HBO star discusses her life and encourages students to pursue their passion now.

Written by: Staff

For Walter M. Kimbrough and hundreds of others who lined the walls of Lawless Memorial Chapel Tuesday evening, dreams do come true.

“I thought it was impossible to bring the hottest star today to Dillard University,” said Kimbrough, amidst thunderous cheers and applause. But the University’s seventh president was reminded that the possibilities are limitless with his signature Brain Food Lecture Series – designed to continue the Dillard tradition of welcoming noted voices to campus and amplify discussions around race, politics, community building, culture, as well as entertainment.

Issa Rae, the co-creator of Insecure, the critically acclaimed HBO original comedy-drama series, spoke at Dillard about her experiences growing up in predominantly white environments, attending Stanford University and breaking into the entertainment industry.

Rae’s conversation with Kimbrough in front of a full house came days before the season finale of the show and kicked-off the 2017-2018 Brain Food Lecture Series.

Through whit and candor, she encouraged students to start working toward their goals now. Rae said students should tap into their existing networks to remain anchored and driven.

“My advice would be to look next to you and partner with people who are equally as focused and as passionate as you are,” said Rae, who has family living in New Orleans. “I didn’t do this by myself by any means. I found them and they found me, and we are working toward one goal. I think that’s what’s helped me…finding people as liked minded as you are.”

The capacity crowd signaled to not only Kimbrough, but for many in attendance that Rae, who’s grandmother graduated from Dillard, along with her characters on Insecure such as Molly, Lawrence and Dro, resonate with viewers on Dillard’s campus and beyond.

In fact, this was the largest crowd to attend a Brain Food lecture. Approximately 850 people were seated inside of Lawless Chapel and another 100 waited outside hoping to get in or get a glimpse of the Los Angeles native. In addition, the discussion was streamed live on Facebook and received nearly 4,000 views.

The walk with Issa Rae

“This is the only place in the state where for free you could have heard Michael Eric Dyson, Iyanla, Kirk Franklin, Misty Copeland…,” Kimbrough said. “They all been here – only at Dillard. So going into year five, I wanted to shock all of that.”

Rae transformed her life’s experiences as a self-described “awkward black girl” into a YouTube web series, The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl (2011) and a memoir (2015) that’s a New York Times Best Seller and to Insecure, (2016) of which she’s the co-creator, co-writer and star. Insecure is an exploration into a contemporary black experience of love, friendship and professional pursuits that’s primarily told through the lens of women. When asked about reaching a mainstream audience, Rae told the LA Times: “We’re just trying to convey that people of color are relatable. This is not a hood story. This is about regular people living life.” To that end, Insecure was renewed for a third season and has been nominated for numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy.

Dillard will welcome Malcolm Nance, MSNBC Terrorism and Intelligence Expert and Best Selling Author of The Plot to Hack America, as the next speaker in the Brain Food Lecture Series Wednesday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m. in Georges Auditorium.


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