Daily Routines

Issa Rae: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

When Issa Rae was asked by the HuffPost what she would be doing if she wasn’t in the entertainment industry, she said she would most likely be working in environmental sustainability — a field that has always interested her, and one that she even studied for a while. “I still would be making videos or PSAs surrounding those topics,” she admitted. “I would still be producing and writing.”

The actress, writer, producer, and comedian can’t help herself — creating content is in her DNA — she would be still writing scripts and producing videos whatever she was doing in the world. Issa has since built a lifestyle and daily routine revolving around her creative work, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

I felt like my voice was missing, and the voices of other people that I really respect and admire and wanna see in the mainstream are missing. Plus, it’s fun!

Issa Rae, Creator Of ‘Awkward Black Girl’, Felt Like Her Voice Was Missing From Pop Culture — So Here’s What She Did | HuffPost

Born in Los Angeles, California, Issa’s family moved around fairly often during her childhood — spending time in Dakar, Senegal and Potomac, Maryland before settling in the affluent View Park-Windsor Hills neighbourhood of Los Angeles. Attending Stanford University to study for a Bachelor of Arts in African and African-American Studies, Issa tapped into her creative juices by shooting music videos, writing and directing plays, and creating a fake reality series called Dorm Diaries.

After graduating from Stanford, Issa started taking classes at the New York Film Academy together with future collaborator Tracy Oliver while working odd jobs. Around 2011, her web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl began going viral thanks to word of mouth, blog posts, and social media. Issa’s career took off like a rocket since that moment and she’s been busier than ever.

She’s created a show called Insecure which was picked up by HBO; starred in the 2020 film The Photograph alongside Lakeith Stanfield; published a New York Times best-selling book The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl; launched her record label Raedio; and signed a five-year film and television deal with WarnerMedia for her production company, Hoorae.

I love being behind the camera. I love writing, but I love when it’s already written and you get to watch other people do what they do best and work their magic, and then just refine. I love the refining process. It’s also why I love to edit. Postproduction is my second favorite part of the process. Being in a writers’ room is my first-favorite part because the possibilities are endless, and then the editing room is about making magic out of that, and that’s such a fun process.

How Issa Rae Gets It Done | The Cut

Issa Rae’s daily routine & work schedule

The Golden Globe-nominated entertainer is an early riser. She revealed that she usually gets 5-6 hours of sleep during the weekdays and 7-8 hours on the weekend. On her work days, she’s up at 4am and the first thing she does is check her phone before heading out for a walk. Speaking in an interview with Self last year, Issa explained that this morning routine was a form of self-care for her.

“It makes me feel like I’m not behind, which is a constant state and a constant source of anxiety,” she explained. “Waking up at four, I’m just like, ‘Not a lot of people are awake right now, at least on the West Coast,’ and that makes me feel like I have a window of time just for me. I think that’s my form of meditation, because I don’t meditate.”

Once she’s back from her walk, it’s time for her usual breakfast meal. “Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and my staple order is scrambled eggs, bacon, avocado, and the hottest hot sauce,” she told The Cut. “Sometimes if I’m feeling like a little Mexican spice, I’ll add refried beans.”

From there, her day can vary drastically whether she’s on-set filming or not. In an interview with The Cut before the last season of Insecure began airing, Issa described her typical work schedule on set.

This season, we had a lot of early mornings — 4:30 or 5 a.m. for hair and makeup. That’s always at least two hours earlier than the call time, which would be at six or seven. And then spending the rest of the 12, 13-hour day shooting. Shooting this season was also very challenging. We didn’t have as many scripts written beforehand, so in between takes or breaks I’m viewing scripts, sending notes, and then having meetings during lunch or sometimes after wrap to prep the upcoming episodes — those are endless meetings. Then answering emails about costumes and props and all those things throughout the day.

How Issa Rae Gets It Done | The Cut

If she’s not filming that day, then she’s most likely writing. Like most creative people, Issa needs to schedule large blocks of time in order to write. Often she’ll set aside whole days for creative work. “I can’t be a creative if I have a call scheduled at 1:30,” she explained to the Wall Street Journal. “I just obsess about the call—so I need the day to be completely clear.”

To wrap up her day, Issa follows a particular evening routine which she described to The Cut.

My favorite part is stripping off that makeup, and I have a very specific regimen. If I feel lazy, I’d start with makeup wipes — that’s terrible for the environment — then I go to my face cleanser, and then I have an exfoliation cleanser that I use after that. And then I use micellar water, that incredible water, with cotton pads, and then I use a toner and then top that off with this face-restoring oil that I really love, wrap my hair, and go to bed.

How Issa Rae Gets It Done | The Cut

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.