While much about the upcoming “Barbie” film has been kept tightly under wraps, Issa Rae can confirm it was “hands down the best set that [she’s] ever been on.” Starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken, respectively, the Greta Gerwig-directed movie is set to release in July 2023. In an interview with POPSUGAR to celebrate American Express Travel’s 2023 trending destinations list, Rae opens up about filming the highly anticipated movie, describing the set as just having “good energy.”
“It starts at the top. You have two people, your lead and your director, who are both women.”
“I built so many bonds there. Everybody from Will Ferrell to Ryan Gosling, literally everybody on that set was just great vibes, great to be around,” she says. Rae, who’s rumored to be playing one of the versions of Barbie alongside Hari Nef and Robbie, credits Gerwig and Robbie for “curating the best vibes” for a positive, comfortable set. “It starts at the top,” the actor-producer says. “You have two people, your lead and your director, who are both women, I must say. They’re just both incredible people and incredibly talented. They made it a comfort zone.”
She continues her praise for Gerwig, adding, “You have a director who’s encouraging you to do your best and feeding you great stuff. It just makes you comfortable to try. Her enthusiasm reverberates. I was really appreciative of that experience.” The movie, which wrapped filming over the summer, will also star Ferrell, America Ferrera, Simu Liu, Kate McKinnon, and more.
Rae also reflects on her new HBO Max show, “Rap Sh!t,” which was recently renewed for a second season, and how it’s differed from her work on “Insecure.” Since “Rap Sh!t” was shot in Atlanta, whereas “Insecure” takes place in Los Angeles, the former was completely out of Rae’s comfort zone. “I didn’t have places in my back pocket that I wanted to showcase, so we were relying so much on natives there,” she says, while “Insecure” was “so organic and so personal.” Rae adds, “These were my friends’ lives. It was just an access point that I didn’t really have to think about.”
The musical aspect of the rap series added another foreign layer for Rae. “You have to really be in sync with your music supervision team because you’re ideating from day one,” she says. “I’m so not used to sharing so much of the early process with that team. It’s such an ongoing process. It’s thinking ahead in a way that I didn’t know that I had to.”
“For season two, we really want to live in the sh*t of ‘Rap Sh!t.'”
The series creator, who’s currently in the writers’ room for “Rap Sh!t,” shares what she hopes to explore in the upcoming season. “There’s so much happening just within female rap right now,” Rae says. “And the way that I’ve been talking about female rap is already going to change from season one to season two because there’s just so much going on. I just want to explore those real life stories through our characters.” She explains that the first season was all about introducing the women, Shawna (Aida Osman) and Mia (KaMillion), while the next will “delve deep into who they are as people, what drives them.” “It’s going to be really fun to see where this leg takes them. For season two, we really want to live in the sh*t of ‘Rap Sh!t,'” Rae says.
As if those two buzzy titles weren’t enough, Rae reveals she’s currently working with “The Woman King” director Gina Prince-Bythewood on another project. “I get to see how she moves, and I’m inspired by her so, so much,” she says. The Hoorae Media founder speaks about wanting to be “extremely intentional” with who she works with, a quality she also admires in Prince-Bythewood. “She is so versatile in her body of work,” she says. “To do ‘Love & Basketball,’ ‘Beyond the Lights,’ ‘The Old Guard,’ and also have ‘The Woman King’ under your belt — who else is doing that, much less a female director? She’s just so intentional about where she puts her energy and also isn’t motivated by money in any way.”