Awkward Black Girl

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Awkward Black Girl
The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl (logo).png
Also known asThe Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl
Created byIssa Rae
Creative directorMimi Valdés
StarringIssa Rae
Sujata Day
Tracy Oliver
Madison T. Shockley III
Andrew Allan James
Tristen Winger
Leah A. Williams
Lyman Johnson
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes25
Executive producersPharrell Williams
Robin Frank
ProducerIssa Rae & Tracy Oliver
Original networkYouTube
Original releaseFebruary 3, 2011 (2011-02-03) –
February 28, 2013 (2013-02-28)

The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl (often simply referred to as Awkward Black Girl) is an American comedy web series created by and starring Issa Rae.[1][2] It premiered on a dedicated YouTube channel on February 3, 2011.[3] The show follows the life of J as she interacts with co-workers and love interests who place her in uncomfortable situations.[2] The story is told through first-person narrative as J usually reveals how she feels about her circumstances through voice-over or dream sequence.

Critics have praised Awkward Black Girl for its witty humor and unique, realistic portrayal of African-American women. The New York Times critic Jon Caramica describes the show as “full of sharp, pointillist humor that’s extremely refreshing.”[4] The series won a Shorty Award for Best Web Series in 2012.[5]

In 2016, the series was adapted into the HBO series Insecure, which ended in 2021.


Issa Rae was inspired to create The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl in January 2009 while working at New Federal Theatre[6] in New York City.[7] Experiencing difficulty in meeting people in an unfamiliar place, Issa Rae decided that it would be entertaining to depict uncomfortable scenarios one may experience when dealing with others.[8] Neglecting the idea for two years, Issa Rae's interest was renewed after reading an article by Leslie Pitterson[9] pointing out the absence of black female nerd characters on screen.[10] She then called on friends to shoot the first episode.[8] The series went viral through word of mouth, blog posts, and social media, which resulted in further media coverage.[11] In an effort to fund the rest of the season, Issa Rae and producer Tracy Oliver decided to raise money for the series through Kickstarter.[12][13] On August 11, 2011, they were awarded $56,269 from 1,960 donations.[14] Due to the popularity of the series, Issa Rae has been interviewed by Fredricka Whitfield for CNN Newsroom, Michel Martin for Tell Me More, Associated Press and other media outlets.[2][10][15]

The second season of Awkward Black Girl aired on Pharrell Williams's i am OTHER in 2012-2013.[16]

Characters and cast[edit]

  • J is the self-described "awkward and black" passive-aggressive main character who works at a call center for weight-loss pill company, Gutbusters. Throughout the series J has to deal with rival, co-worker Nina, and being in love with two men White J and Fred. As a means of dealing with the stresses of her love-life and work environment, J composes and performs rap lyrics sometimes with friend, CeCe. J is portrayed by Issa Rae, creator, actress, writer, and director.[17]
  • CeCe is the best friend/sidekick and co-worker of J who works in human resources. Typically excited, CeCe offers J fallible advice that usually leads J into trouble. CeCe is portrayed by actress and writer Sujata Day.[17]
  • Nina is the primary antagonist and co-worker of J. She makes it her duty to stir up trouble for J and mock her. She is promoted by Boss Lady over J and appears to have dated J's love interest, Fred. Nina is portrayed by actress, writer, and producer Tracy Oliver.[17]
  • Boss Lady is J's superior and an antagonist of J. She is apparently unaware of her racial insensitivity. Boss Lady is portrayed by actress and writer, Hanna.[17]
  • Fred is J's initial love interest and co-worker. Fred is portrayed by actor Madison T. Shockley III.[17]
  • A is an antagonist and nerdy co-worker of J. He is introduced in the series as her "awkward mistake" after she slept with him at a company holiday party. A is portrayed by actor and dancer Andrew Allan James.[17]
  • Patty is an antagonist of J and other Gutbusters employees. She is commonly referred to as Germy Patty because she is always sick and perpetually carrying tissues. Patty continues to appear at the Gutbusters office and company social events, even after being fired by Boss Lady. Patty is portrayed by actress Kiki Harris.[17]
  • Amir is an antagonist of J and other Gutbusters employees. He makes racially insensitive jokes at the expense of his co-workers. Amir is portrayed by actor and producer, Fahad.[17]
  • Darius is an antagonist and co-worker of J. He is commonly referred to as "Baby Voice Darius". Darius speaks low enough that others find him inaudible except for long-time friend, Fred. He has a very loud laugh that is rarely heard. Darius is portrayed by actor Tristen Winger.[17]
  • Dolores Clarence is a co-worker and antagonist of J and CeCe. She works in human resources and changes her name to Sister Mary after becoming a born-again Christian. Dolores is portrayed by actress Leah A. Williams
  • Jesus is J's superior and an antagonist of J. The former sensitivity trainer, he replaces Boss Lady as manager after she is called to corporate. He is portrayed by actor Michael Ruesga.
  • White Jay is a love interest of J who works as an anger management counselor. He is outwardly off-beat and appears to share the same awkward disposition as J. His introduction creates a love triangle between him, J and Fred, however she chooses him in the end. White Jay is portrayed by actor Lyman Johnson.[17]
  • Jerry is an overly excited temporary worker at Gutbusters. He is portrayed by actor Ricky Woznichak.
  • D is J's former boyfriend. D is played by actor Mike Danger.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
112February 3, 2011 (2011-02-03)January 13, 2012 (2012-01-13)
212June 4, 2012 (2012-06-04)February 28, 2013 (2013-02-28)

Season 1 (2011–12)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"The Stop Sign"N/AN/AFebruary 3, 2011 (2011-02-03)
When J keeps getting caught at a stop-sign, she keeps getting spotted by her accidental one-nighter, A, who constantly annoys J as she tries to ignore him.
22"The Job"N/AN/AMarch 3, 2011 (2011-03-03)
When Nina gets the promotion that J has been waiting to get from Boss Lady, J tries to keep her angry mood at ease, although she has a passive-aggressive attitude.
33"The Hallway"N/AN/AApril 7, 2011 (2011-04-07)
Every time J passes through the hallway, she bumps into CeCe, who is seemed to also have an awkward stage which makes both J and CeCe become best friends.
44"The Icebreaker"N/AN/AMay 5, 2011 (2011-05-05)
J and CeCe's common friendship rises to a better climax, although Nina has found her ally in Amir, who makes insensitive racial jokes about his co-workers.
55"The Dance"N/AIssa Rae
O.C. Smith
June 2, 2011 (2011-06-02)
After Fred invites J to his party, she finds that she is not the only one that was invited. She then tries to come closer to Fred, but Nina interferes in the process of their relationship. She then gets upset, but she spots White Jay in the kitchen, where Fred comes in and makes jealous looks at the two of them. At the end, everyone does a slow dance, where Fred and Nina kiss, which makes J even more aggravated.
66"The Stapler"N/AAmy Aniobi
O.C. Smith
July 8, 2011 (2011-07-08)
J is still caught up in the Fred and Nina make-out at the party and she is unable to handle her anger. All of her co-workers constantly takes her stapler, where at one point it goes missing and then J shouts in the office. She gets sent to an anger management session, which is being taught by White Jay. In the end, J and White Jay make plans for a date.
77"The Date"Dennis DortchIssa Rae
Tracy Oliver
August 3, 2011 (2011-08-03)
J embarks on her first "White Date" with Jay.
88"The Project"N/AIssa Rae
Tracy Oliver
September 7, 2011 (2011-09-07)
As J deals with the awkwardness of talking to Fred, CeCe is faced with an overly religious co-worker.
99"The Happy Hour"Issa Rae
Shea Vanderpoort
Amy J. Aniobi
O.C. Smith
October 5, 2011 (2011-10-05)
J has to deal with the awkwardness of group dinners when Boss Lady rewards her Gutbuster employees by taking them out to dinner.
"The Unexpected"Issa Rae
Shea Vanderpoort
Issa Rae
Tracy Oliver
October 31, 2011 (2011-10-31) (Part 1)
November 7, 2011 (2011-11-07) (Part 2)
When Nina takes over the office, J and the Gutbuster employees are subject to her wrath.
1211"The Exes"Issa Rae
Shea Vanderpoort
Amy J. Aniobi
O.C. Smith
December 1, 2011 (2011-12-01)
After being dissed by White Jay, CeCe causes J to reflect on her dating history.
1312"The Decision"Shea VanderpoortAmy J. Aniobi
Tracy Oliver
Issa Rae
O.C. Smith
January 13, 2012 (2012-01-13)
When Fred and White Jay make an unexpected visit to J's place, she is forced to make a decision.

Season 2 (2012–13)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
141"The Sleepover"Shea William VanderpoortAmy Aniobi
O.C. Smith
June 14, 2012 (2012-06-14)
J and White Jay attempt to get more intimate as J deals with the insecurity of her ex hook-ups becoming friends.
152"The Visit"Shea William VanderpoortIssa Rae
Tracy Oliver
July 12, 2012 (2012-07-12)
J turns to girl talk for input on when is the right time to take her relationship with White Jay to the next step.
163"The Jingle"Shea William VanderpoortIssa Rae
Tracy Oliver
August 9, 2012 (2012-08-09)
Just when things were looking up, J's mother's unsolicited judgment leaves J questioning the direction in which her life is heading.
174"The Search"Shea William VanderpoortIssa Rae
Tracy Oliver
September 13, 2012 (2012-09-13)
J finally decides to search for a new job, but just when things are looking up, White Jay throws a curveball.
185"The Interview"Shea William VanderpoortOreathia SmithOctober 11, 2012 (2012-10-11)
As J undergoes the excruciating interview process, she runs into someone unexpected.
196"The Waiter"Shea William VanderpoortIssa RaeNovember 15, 2012 (2012-11-15)

J prepares to get intimate with White Jay, but White Jay takes J out to dinner with a waiter (Timothy DeLaGhetto) who constantly insults White Jay, but White Jay starts to defend him and J.

Guest Stars: Timothy DeLaGhetto as The Waiter

Notes: At the end of the episode, it was announced that the show will start to premiere two episodes per month starting in December 2012. Also, the episode was scheduled to premiere on November 8, 2012, but was rescheduled to November 15, 2012.
207"The Group"Shea William VanderpoortAmy Aniobi
Chase Jackson
OC Smith
December 13, 2012 (2012-12-13)
In order to make it out by 5 for an important call, J tries to take lead of a group project.
218"The Friends"Shea William VanderpoortChas Jackson
Issa Rae
December 27, 2012 (2012-12-27)
After an embarrassing first impression, J tries her best to get to know White Jay's friends at their annual holiday get-together.
229"The Check"Shea William VanderpoortAmy AniobiJanuary 10, 2013 (2013-01-10)
Things take a turn for the worst when White Jay takes J to an awkward group dinner with his friends.
2310"The Call"Shea William VanderpoortO.C. SmithJanuary 24, 2013 (2013-01-24)
After a huge fight, J seeks the help of CeCe and her new beau.
"The Apology (Part One)
The Change (Part Two)"
Shea William VanderpoortAmy Aniobi
Chas Jackson
O.C. Smith
February 14, 2013 (2013-02-14) (Part One)
February 28, 2013 (2013-02-28) (Part Two)
J juggles her final job interview, her failing relationship with White Jay, and there's a new twist at Gutbusters.


In 2012, Rae was featured in the esteemed Forbes 30 Under 30 Entertainment List for her work with Awkward Black Girl.[18] The show also won the Shorty Award for Best Web Series.[19]

Critics have praised Awkward Black Girl for its witty humor and unique, realistic portrayal of African-American women. The New York Times critic Jon Caramica describes the show as “full of sharp, pointillist humor that’s extremely refreshing.”[4] On her site, Christelyn Karazin wrote, “Aren't you tired of seeing black women look like idiots on television? Here's a girl—whom I suspect is a lot like the women who read this blog—quirky, funny, a little unsure of herself, rocks her hair natural and is beautifully brown skinned.” [20]

Erin Stegeman of The Tangled Web praises Awkward Black Girl for defying stereotypes of African American women and being “an uber-relatable slice of life, narrated by J’s inner-ramblings that run through any awkward person’s mind.”[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Issa Rae". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Anderson, Stacy (9 September 2011). "Diverse Web series grows through social media". Associated Press. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  3. ^ "The Mis-adventures of Awkward Black Girl - Episode 1". YouTube. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  4. ^ a b Caramanica, Jon (July 13, 2012). "Life's Hard, Web Series Gracefully Illustrates". NY Times. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  5. ^ "'Awkward Black Girl' Creator Issa Rae On Shorty Award Win And Online Racism". Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  6. ^ "New Federal Theatre". Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  7. ^ Giancana, Norell. "Meet Awkward Black Girl's Issa Rae". Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  8. ^ a b Anderson, Stacey. "Diverse Web series grows through social media". Yahoo News. Associated Press. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  9. ^ Pitterson, Leslie (April 19, 2010). "Where's the black version of Liz Lemon?". The Grio.
  10. ^ a b "'Awkward Black Girl' web hit". CNN Newsroom. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  11. ^ Andrews, Helena. "Embracing the Awkward, One Webisode at a Time". The Root. Archived from the original on 3 November 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  12. ^ "Tracy Oliver". Yahoo. Archived from the original on 6 November 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  13. ^ Rae, Issa (10 October 2011). "How Awkward Black Girl Raised Over $44,000 Through Kickstarter". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  14. ^ "Kickstarter - The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl". Kickstarter. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  15. ^ "'Awkward Black Girl' Garners Laughs". NPR. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  16. ^ Berkowitz, Joe (20 September 2012). "The Awkward Ascent Of The Misadventures Of Awkward Black Girl". Fast Company. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "cast". Awkward Black Girl Official Website. Archived from the original on 3 November 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  18. ^ "30 Under 30 Entertainment: Issa Rae". Forbes. 2012. Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  19. ^ "About Me". Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  20. ^ Karazin, Christelyn (August 4, 2011). "Friday Funny: "Awkward Black Girl" Needs Us or We'll Never Know If J Will Hook Up with Jay!". Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  21. ^ Stegeman, Erin (July 21, 2013). "Awkward Black Girl". The Tangled Web. Archived from the original on December 13, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013.

External links[edit]