Issa Rae Fans Come To Her Defense After Awkward Name Mispronunciation

An interviewer at CultureCon struggled to pronounce Issa Rae's name.

BYCole Blake
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CultureCon NY 2023

Attendees at CultureCon refused to let interviewer Glenda McNeal get away with mispronunciating Issa Rae’s name on stage at the event, Saturday. When she said Rae’s name as “Ih-suh,” the audience quickly began interrupting her. The two had been discussing Rae’s work mentoring creatives of color.

“You guys know a lot about Issa Rae for all the incredible work that she’s done,” said McNeal, mispronouncing the actress’ name. As fans began shouting out the correct pronunciation, McNeal apologized for the mistake. “EE-suh Rae! Sorry! Thank you; it’s okay! Calm down. I’m part of the community, honey, it’s okay,” she said. From there, an attendee remarked: “And you didn’t say her name right.” McNeal responded: “It’s okay to be vulnerable and don’t get it right all the time. That is my life and you should embrace it. Embrace it, girl. Embrace it!”

Read More: Issa Rae Inks Multi-Year Deal With Def Jam Recordings For Raedio

Issa Rae At CultureCon

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 07: (L-R) Glenda McNeal and Issa Rae speak onstage during How to Find Your People Brand: American Express panel at the CultureCon NY 2023 on October 07, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

The negative reactions didn’t end there. Afterward, a clip of the awkward moment went viral on social media, prompting further backlash. “Issa was gonna let it go but the crowd said AHT AHT! Millennials do NAWT play about Jo-Issa Rae Diop. And I, too, am in that number!” one user wrote. Another added: “While it’s not the end of the world, this kind of thing annoys me to now end. Whatever your title, when you’re going to speak to someone, let alone interview them, find out how to say their name properly.”

Interviewer Mispronounces Issa Rae's Name

Rae, who is best known for her work on HBO’s Insecure, recently starred in both Barbie and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. She’ll soon be appearing in Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction, alongside Jeffrey Wright and Tracee Ellis Ross.

Read More: N.O.R.E. Admits Issa Rae Helped Him Realize “Drink Champs” Was Getting Too Messy


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About The Author
Cole Blake is currently an Editor at HotNewHipHop based out of Brooklyn, New York. He began working at the site as an intern back in 2018 while studying journalism at St. John’s University. In the time since, he’s graduated with a bachelor's degree and written extensively about a wide range of topics including pop culture, film & television, politics, video games, sports, and much more. He’s also covered music festivals such as Gov. Ball and Rolling Loud. You can find him publishing work for HNHH from Monday to Wednesday or on weekends. On the sports front, Cole’s a passionate NBA and NFL fan with his favorite teams being the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Lakers. He also roots for the Yankees whenever he finds himself at Yankee Stadium or the Red Storm when in the company of other SJU alumni. His favorite hip-hop artists are billy woods, Earl Sweatshirt, Cam’ron, MIKE, and Mach-Hommy.