Many may not be familiar with Leslie Pitterson, a former communications executive at Google. Still, Issa Rae credited her for inspiring the web series ‘The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl‘ that transformed into HBO’s Insecure.
In 2010, Pitterson was a Columbia University college student who was a freelance writer. She wrote a reflective piece titled “Where’s the Black Version of Liz Lemon?” for Clutch Magazine that delved into how Hollywood exclude the nerdy Black girl trope from television and film. She explains that the Black female characters that grace our screen are usually strong, confident, and booming, which is still a powerful and beneficial representation. However, some young girls and women struggle to be assertive and are finding their way through life in a blundering fashion.
“I was seeing Black women onscreen at that time who were already kind of, ‘made it,’” she described. “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.”
In Pitterson’s LinkedIn post, she recalls months later receiving an email from Issa, who thanked her for her article because it motivated her to launch a project. Issa sent her a YouTube video link to an episode of ‘The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.’ Happily taken aback, she promoted the show heavily on the Clutch site, shared it with friends, and the burgeoning web series quickly grew an audience.
“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 said to Essence. “As a Black woman in the media industry, you don’t always feel seen.”
Pitterson has led the communications teams of notable companies like Morgan Stanley, Nielsen, and Google and feels honored that she played such a pivotal role in Rae’s culture-shifting television series Insecure that brought a flood of Black Girl Magic to the nation’s television screens.
“The beautiful thing about seeing MABG and Insecure is they’re so authentic,” she noticed. “It’s really important we validate each other and that when we see stories, we do our part to maximize them. Our voice, every one of our voices, has power.”