Issa Rae has a new gig. The mogul, who steers a production company with film, TV and media projects, a management company, record label, coffee business, and more, has partnered with retail delivery platform Shipt on a new campaign. Debuting this week, the partnership, which marks Shipt’s largest advertising investment, finds Rae front and center as she uses Shipt “as a reliable resource for every situation” (including her well-known yacht parties). To tout the campaign’s launch, Rae spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her Shipt summer essentials, the success of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and whether she’s seen a full cut of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie.

Issa Rae appears in a still from her new campaign for Shipt in June 2023.

Issa Rae appears in a still from her new campaign for Shipt in June 2023.

Embry Rucker

First off, congrats on Spider-Verse. How are you feeling now that the movie’s out in the world?

Thank you so much. I am so happy it’s out in the world and people seem to love it as much as I do. I was so pleased to see that the sequel was everything I wanted it to be and more. As I’m sure you already know, we don’t get entire scripts, so I only knew the parts that I had recorded. To be able to see it all at once — I was only able to see it a couple of days before everybody else — I was just floored by how good it was and what an excellent job the filmmakers did by taking this world to another level. I was also really disheartened to see that my character [Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman] was on the wrong side of things. That was a shock to me. Of course, I still would’ve said yes [to doing it] but I was mad at her.

I know you’re really thoughtful about who you partner with, so how did this Shipt campaign come about and why did you say yes?

I actually use the app. It’s been such a time saver for me, given that I often don’t get to fully plan out my days and there are times when I just don’t have the time to get to the store myself. With this particular collaboration, I got to highlight my actual life by using my friends. It felt authentic to how I fully operate. It was just a seamless collaboration. I don’t know if I can talk about the extra community service portion that they are doing for an HBCU, but there’s such great intention behind this company that it made it such an easy decision for me to come on board.

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When you do say yes, how collaborative is the process?

It’s a full collaboration. They offer their concept and what they are thinking and give me the chance to make sure that it’s right for me, and then I was able to tweak things in such a way that it made more sense to me. I love to involve my friends who would actually be here on a girls’ night and who actually attend my “yacht shit” parties that I throw. I also was able to suggest a director [Lawrence Lamont] who I knew would do an excellent job as he’s really phenomenal at conveying stories in a short amount of time given his music video background. It’s a pure collaboration that led to such a fun shoot because I’m working with a bunch of people that I love and respect.

Speaking of using Shipt, what’s on your summer essentials list?

I love smelling good over the summer, that’s essential when you’re out and about and it’s hot. I need to make sure that I’m not offending anyone. (Laughs.) Whether it’s perfume from Sephora or other products. I also love ice cream and, you know, no summer is complete without the best ice cream sandwiches. Also, I’m a big journaler and I get most of my journal entries out in the summer when I have time to sit back on the weekends, gather my thoughts and do some planning for the second half of the year. So, you’ll find a Moleskin journal in there on my Shipt list along with some other beach-friendly items.

You have a big summer upcoming with the release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. Have you seen the full movie yet?

Yeah, I got to see it at [Margot Robbie and Tom Ackerley’s] house in their little theater. It kinda left me speechless. It’s so well done and true to the script, which I thought was brilliant. It was amazing to see what Greta was able to accomplish visually, what an incredible performer Margot is, and to relive how the dance numbers played out, which I didn’t get to see up close. It was just a really, really satisfying watch and so fun. I was literally laughing out loud by myself in a dark room.

As someone who runs their own empire and creates their own projects, what is it like to work on a film like Barbie when you’re an actor-for-hire? Do you like being told what to do and where to go? Or do you prefer being a creative collaborator and running the show?

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I love showing up and being told what to do. (Laughs.) I’m almost a bit irritated when people ask me, “What would you do here?” I’m like, “No, this is your shit. I’ve been doing this, so you tell me what you want me to do and I will happily do it.” But, of course, with someone like Greta, she’s so respectful not just of my opinion, but of everyone else’s opinions. She collaborates with people whose opinions she values, and she wants to make sure that she’s hearing everyone out. She’s so great about funneling those thoughts through her own vision and heightening and elevating them. She does that so well. There were definitely parts of the costume and the way that [President Barbie] carries herself that she was deferential to me about, and I saw her be that way with Kingsley Ben-Adir. Everyone had versions of how they wanted their Barbies or Kens to be, and I saw her take those ideas and make them her own in the best possible way.

I love what you’ve done with your coffee business. The spaces are so impressive and it feels like the reception has been so great. How is that business going for you?

Thank you so much. It is going really, really well. We have a coffee truck now, and it visited the writers strike picket line the other day to give out free coffee and teas. We’re still looking to expand. We have a location coming at the airport very soon. It’s just been such a great hub to run into other creators. Some of my favorite people visit the shop and that is a dream come true. I just saw Tina Knowles hosted an event there on the low, and she sent me some pictures. That was so dope. It’s a great neighborhood hub for anyone who wants to go there and have good food and drinks.

Issa Rae appears in a still from her new campaign for Shipt in June 2023.

Issa Rae appears in a still from her new campaign for Shipt in June 2023.

Embry Rucker

A version of this story first appeared in the June 21 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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