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Meet The Tech Exec That Inspired Issa Rae To Launch ‘Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl’


Meet The Tech Exec That Inspired Issa Rae To Launch ‘Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl’

Credit: Leslie Pitterson

Imagine checking your Twitter and seeing a tweet from Issa Rae crediting you as the inspiration for the start of her career in entertainment. 

That’s what happened to Leslie Pitterson, a communications executive who wrote an article Rae says changed her life. 

The year was 2010, and Pitterson was a Columbia University student at the time, working as a busy freelance writer. She penned an incredibly thoughtful article for Clutch Magazine that explored the oft-overlooked nerdy Black girl trope in TV and film, a representative that resonated with Pitterson and so many others. She beautifully illustrated that when Black women did come across our screens, they showed up strong, uber-confident and incredibly put-together which is flattering, but exclusionary and even intimidating to those that don’t see themselves that way. 

“I was seeing Black women onscreen at that time who were already kind of,  ‘made it,’ ” Pitterson explained. “ I just felt like so many of the portrayals with us were either incomplete or they were too glossy—they glossed over what our actual lives felt like and I wanted to put that observation I’d made out into the universe.”  

Fortunately, Pitterson’s April 2010 piece was in Rae’s orbit. 

About 10 months later, the first episode of Misadventures of Awkward of Black Girl (MABG) was posted on Youtube, effectively shifting the landscape of the TV industry for Black creatives from then on. 

A sign of her social media savvy even back then, Rae sent Pitterson a thank-you note in the form of a Tweet to acknowledge her influence. It simply read,  “@LesliePitterson, the character your article inspired,” followed by a link to the first MABG episode. 

“I was incredibly flattered, not because I could’ve predicted the massive success of the web series, or Insecure or Issa, but just because she’d read my work and was moved by it,” Pitterson shared with Essence. “As a Black woman…

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