By Angelique Jackson | Variety
Issa Rae has been named creative director for the 2024 American Black Film Festival (ABFF), the annual film festival presented by Nice Crowd.
“Throughout the course of her career, Issa Rae has made an indelible impact within the entertainment ecosystem ranging from her wide array of roles – in front of and behind the camera – to her fierce advocacy for equitable representation and opportunities for Black creatives,” said ABFF co-founders and producers Nicole and Jeff Friday, in a statement announcing Rae’s appointment.
“We couldn’t think of a better partner to help us continue to embody the ABFF mission of showcasing Black talent — and discovering and amplifying new voices,” they added.
In the newly created role, Rae will work closely with the Fridays to program the lineup for the festival’s 28th edition, which will take place June 12-16, 2024 in Miami Beach, Fl.
“As one of the first major festivals to showcase my work, ABFF continues to elevate Black creatives from the ground up, and I’m excited to join its co-founders and producers, Nicole and Jeff Friday, in that mission,” Rae said, explaining why she was “honored” to sign on.
As mentioned, Rae has a long history with ABFF: She most recently served as the festival’s ambassador in 2022, and previewed her Max series “Rap Sh!t” at the event for two years running. (“Rap Sh!t” is set to debut its second season in Nov. after the premiere was delayed from Aug. amid the recently-settled WGA strike and ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike.)
On the red carpet at the festival’s opening ceremony in 2022, Rae elaborated on ABFF’s importance to the entertainment industry.
“There’s no other festival highlighting us in this way, highlighting our film, highlighting our television shows, and it’s in an elegant way,” Rae told Variety. “That’s what I admire so much about this particular festival — it’s so intentional. Even thinking about the awards that they do later, ABFF as a brand is so solid, and I feel proud of having my work showcased here.
Rae burst onto the scene with the award-winning web series and NY Times best-selling book “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” and rose to multi-hyphenate mogul status with the Peabody-winning and Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated comedy series “Insecure,” which ran for five seasons.
In 2020, Rae formed Hoorae, a multi-faceted media company comprised of Hoorae Media for film, TV and digital; Raedio, a music label, music supervision company, and “audio everywhere” company; and ColorCreative, its management division. Under the company’s overall deal with Warner Bros. Discovery, Rae also executive produced the Emmy-nominated series “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and “Rap Sh!t.” Rae’s had a big year in movies as well, starring in “Barbie,” the TIFF audience award-winning “American Fiction” and voicing Jessica Drew in “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”
News of Rae’s appointment comes as Nice Crowd prepares for the inaugural “Because They’re Funny” (BTF) comedy festival, which runs Oct. 6-8 in Washington D.C. and showcases comedic talent within BIPOC communities. The company — formerly ABFF Ventures — offers year-round events focused on comedy, health and wellness, food, and fine art, all dedicated to highlighting BIPOC culture and achievements. ABFF is the company’s flagship event, created in 1997 and sponsored by Cadillac, Comcast NBCUniversal, City of Miami Beach, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), American Airlines and Sony Pictures Entertainment.
“The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is proud to once again join in support of the ABFF and the incredible impact this festival has on Greater Miami’s tourism landscape,” added Connie Kinnard, GMCVB’s senior vice president of multicultural tourism & development. “With Nicole and Jeff Friday at the helm, ABFF continues its commitment to shining a light on diverse, up-and-coming talent, ultimately benefiting the Greater Miami and Miami Beach community at-large.”