Emmy -Winning Actor Issa Rae Was Once “Crippled” By Credit Card Debt Before Becoming Famous

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If you ever traded your good credit for a free pizza as a broke college student, you may have more in common with the iconic actor and producer Issa Rae than you thought. The “Insecure” star recently spoke with CNBC’s “Make It,” about being targeted by creditors as a young consumer, and how debt nearly crippled her before she hit it big in showbiz. Now at 37, Rae reflects on the importance of managing your credit properly, something she wishes she would have learned a lot earlier while attending Stanford University.

“I think building your credit is important, and that is something that I needed to learn,” she says. “I was targeted by credit card companies when I was in college because I was their ideal target. It was like ‘okay, gullible girl over here. She needs money, she’s broke.’”

While financial experts often harp on the fact that you should only spend what you can afford to pay off, Rae tells “Make It” that as a young student, she “lacked understanding” about the credit building process, and for that reason, quickly fell into debt.

“I got really, really wrapped up in credit card debt early on and it felt like it weighed on me. It was crippling,” she says.

But tragedy marked the writing on the wall for Rae when her aunt suddenly passed, leaving behind an inheritance for her nieces and nephews with Rae among them.

“It was meant to invest in our futures,” Rae explains, “and it broke my heart, but I used that to get myself out of credit card debt.”

In a way though, being able to clean up her past mistakes did in fact clear a path for a more financially stable future.

“That really lit a fire in me to never, never go through that again,” she said. “It was an opportunity to start over.”

Rae tells “Make It” that with her debt behind her, she then made more financially responsible decisions, and became conscious about living within her means. She also implemented the necessary practice of paying bills on time, a key component for credit building.

“I’m intentional about being like ‘I’m only going to use this credit card to pay my light bill, and I’ll put that on auto pay,’ and being able to manage those finances because it’s money that I know I have,” she says. “Don’t spend money that you don’t have.”



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