Issa Rae Breaks Down Why She Lives By 'Wipe Me Down' Lyrics During Stanford Commencement Speech
Sis is a national treasure.
June 15, 2021 at 1:03 am
Actress and TV writer Issa Rae spoke to the graduating class at her alma mater on Sunday, breaking down why the lines from Webbie, Boosie and Foxx’s “Wipe Me Down (Remix)" are words to live by.
When she graduated from Stanford University in 2007, Rae and her friends performed the Wacky Walk, a school tradition where seniors dress up in costumes and wave at their family, as they blasted “Wipe Me Down” on boomboxes. Since then, the iconic words from the song have become her personal mantra, Rae told Stanford's news blog.
She said the song's opening verse, “I pull up at the club, VIP, gas tank on E, but all dranks on me. Wipe me down,” has influenced her perspective and approach to life.
“When I use my Stanford education to break these lyrics down, I can’t help but to think of my own journey and what your journey will ultimately be,” she said. Rae added that the lyrics opened her eyes to the true nature of being present for people.
“Oh man – I just got chills,” she told the recent grads. “Do you hear the humility and service in that? What I took from this line is that no matter what obstacles or dire circumstances you personally face, you should always value and celebrate your community. He’s saying, ‘No matter what I’m going through, I got you. Words to live by, and words I’ve experienced from my chosen family right here. Trust and believe that your Stanford family will show up for you – in unexpected ways.”
While at school, the 36-year-old created Dorm Diaries, a web series about being Black at Stanford that featured her friends as character archetypes. Her peers became so invested in the project that they dedicated hours to rehearsals.
“That’s love,” Rae said. “When I released the series on Facebook in 2007, the outpouring of support for the episodes from my community made me realize that Hollywood was wrong about there not being an audience for the stories I wanted to tell.”
When she found herself struggling to finance her next popular series Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, the Los Angeles native said she received a swell of support from classmates, administrators and others from the Stanford community.
“The outpouring of support from this community – of people who I met here on campus, are the reason I was able to ultimately make the show of my dreams for HBO, Insecure,” she said. “And in my own industry journey, no matter my circumstances, I’ve always made it a priority to find ways to buy the next round of dranks for upcoming creatives, figuratively speaking – sometimes literally too.
Over the weekend, Rae wrapped up shooting the final season of her critically acclaimed show on HBO. She told the graduating seniors that their community could make a difference in their success.
"There’s nothing wrong with building and tapping into your network of support," she said.
“We were nominated for eight Emmys last year and won one,” Rae said, highlighting the friends and colleagues who supported her on Insecure. “And we got to shoot five seasons of it on our terms. Wipe me down.”
According to Variety, Rae inked a new five-year overall deal with HBO that sources estimate being valued at $40 million.
As for her time at Stanford, Rae said it took leaving the school to realize what a truly amazing place it was.
“One, it granted me the room to make the space for myself if I didn’t see one, which in turn gave me the confidence to create a space for myself when I officially entered the outside world,” she said. “And two, most importantly and life-changingly, is the community it allowed me to build. The community I built at this school is without a doubt the reason I was able to pursue my dream and why I was asked to speak here today before you.”