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Award-winning actress, producer, writer, and advocate Issa Rae kicked off her collaboration with Pepsi brand LIFEWTR on Wednesday in a campaign aimed at uplifting diverse creators across the arts. 

In a candid conversation with Blavity, the 36-year-old multi-hyphenate spoke about the importance of continuing the work that the Black Lives Matter movement protests reignited last summer. For Rae, her life’s work has always showcased diverse voices and this new collaboration is just another extension of her personal mission to prioritize overlooked voices.

“It’s not easy work, but you have to kind of prioritize it,” she says. “Over the last year now, especially with these racial uprisings, we’ve seen where so many companies are falling short. This is really the time to see how much work you’ve been doing since and if you’re truly about that life. But what I love about LIFEWTR is they’ve been doing this since they started. It’s something that has been core to what the company is, and I can’t say the same for a lot of these other industries.”

Last year, consumers and companies across industries called out the deeply-rooted systemic issues that continue to push marginalized communities aside. As Blavity previously reported, the Insecure creator and actress herself shared how she used her time during the protests to observe “who was on the front lines” and “who was educating other people to make a difference.” 

Now, she herself is showing once again how supportive she is of diverse creators and being a person of action that continues to open doors for opportunity.

“I hope to set an example, but all I can do is remain optimistic and hope that also these artists that we’ve featured will continue to lift others up and shine a light on them as they get opportunities,” she tells Blavity about the Life Unseen campaign.

Rae also says her work doesn’t solely rely on corporations and big-name companies. Everyday creatives and supporters also share the responsibility to uplift one another and continue that work ourselves.

“Don’t be selfish with your opportunities, [and] don’t be one of the crabs in a barrel,” she says. “What’s meant for you will be yours, and that’s something that I’ve told myself constantly through my own journey.”

Her latest brand endeavor also acts as a vessel for her own personal mission to extend an olive brand to help her fellow creatives reach the next step in their careers. 

“I’ve never been shy about [saying], ‘Girl did you see this opportunity,’ or ‘Hey this is happening here, we should take advantage of it.’ Because again if it’s meant for me and it’s mine then it’s mine, and if it’s meant for you it’s yours, and there’s no hard feelings. When one person wins we do kind of all win, there’s just not any one opportunity for everyone else.”

Rae has always been a champion for her own community and uses any opportunity to pay it forward to express her love for the culture. While accepting her 2021 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series for Insecure, she said the honor “means the world.” 

“It’s the only validation that matters, is Black people’s validation, so I really appreciate NAACP for honoring us. It means so much,” Rae declared. 

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