Aida Osman and KaMillion Talk Being a “Match Made in Heaven” in Issa Rae’s “Rap Sh!t”


Aida Osman and KaMillion hit the jackpot for their TV acting debuts. The writer turned actor and the Florida-born artist make up the fictional rap duo leading Issa Rae’s new show, “Rap Sh!t.” The half-hour HBO Max comedy – described as Rae’s “sophomore album” – began as an early draft of the creator’s 14-time Emmy-nominated “Insecure” series. However, it’s since grown into a passion project paying homage to today’s generation of women in hip-hop.

“I wouldn’t even say it feels like pressure as much as it feels like an honor to have a built-in audience that’s loyal and already loves Issa.”

“Rap Sh!t” is, undoubtedly, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Rae and showrunner Syreeta Singleton made sure of that when they began developing their series that’s written by Black women, about Black women, but for everyone to consume. The Miami-set show mirrors people from all walks of life – from rappers and creatives to Black mothers, millennial hustlers, and, of course, Florida natives. “Every character that’s represented in the show, there’s somebody in the writers’ room who’s really like that. It’s a beautiful, diverse room,” Osman tells POPSUGAR.

In the show, Osman plays Shawna and KaMillion portrays Mia – two estranged high school friends who reunite years later to start their own rap group. Reflective of today’s current landscape of women rappers, “Rap Sh!t” takes a unique, social-media-driven approach to a hip-hop come-up story we’ve seen in real-time with artists like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. “It would be stupid to not include it – it’d be negligent,” Osman remarks of the show’s social media angle. “Everything that we do is online now. We act like going outside is going outside. No, it’s going on your phone, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok. If you step back [from the] post-Cardi [era], there’s not a single woman in the rap industry that didn’t come up off the internet.”

Despite being newcomers in the acting world, the “Rap Sh!t” stars didn’t feel any nerves when it came to steering the story in Rae’s new show. “I wouldn’t even say it feels like pressure as much as it feels like an honour to have a built-in audience that’s loyal and already loves Issa,” Osman says of inheriting “Insecure”‘s fan base. “KaMillion and I worked really hard to bring what we could, but we’re mostly just excited that it’s the sophomore album.”

KaMillion and Osman both went through very different audition processes before landing their “Rap Sh!t” roles. The former started with a video audition that charmed Rae and her casting crew almost immediately. “I think it was just my Florida girl [flair], maybe my accent, my personality,” KaMillion shares. “When I came on camera, I was just like, ‘I am Mia, and Mia is me.’ I was very confident about that, and I think that’s really what caught their attention.”

Osman, on the other hand, got hired for “Rap Sh!t” through the writers’ room, where she started moulding the character she’d soon embody. “You keep writing character traits for Shawna that are specific only [to me],” she says of her transfer from behind-the-scenes to the TV screen. “I did a staff meeting for writing, and then like a week later, I auditioned . . . it was a weird transition. It was kind of unheard of, honestly. I don’t know if that’s ever really happened before.” As “nontraditional” actors, Osman and KaMillion fearlessly showed up as their full, authentic selves during filming – a benefit that very much worked in their favour. “The characters were so us,” Osman adds. “It was easy.”

“Everything that each of us lacked, the other helped fill that void, so it was really just a match made in heaven.”

Much like the premise of “Rap Sh!t,” the two costars found power in establishing a sisterhood among themselves; it’s what helped them build such organic chemistry, on and off-screen. “When we first met each other, it helped that we discovered that we’re zodiac twins (Cancers). We just hit it off,” KaMillion shares. “Everything that each of us lacked, the other helped fill that void, so it was really just a match made in heaven. Kind of like how Issa and her costar [Yvonne Orji] were in ‘Insecure.’ It’s really funny, I think we really have like the same type of dynamic.”

Osman adds: “[With this] being our first acting job, we leaned on each other so heavy. When I wasn’t filming, I was in her trailer. When she wasn’t filming, she was in [mine] . . . We could really find each other in these moments and share with each other. I think other actresses who have done multiple jobs would be like, ‘After work, I’m going home, nobody talk to me, whatever.’ But [for us], it was our lives. It was everything we were doing at that point.”

“‘Rap Sh!t’ has taught me that dreams do come true.”

Ahead of its series premiere, “Rap Sh!t” has already changed Osman and KaMillion’s lives. While both have made names for themselves in their respective industries – the former in comedy writing and the latter through music – they’re reaching a whole new level in their careers now as leads of their own show. The pair are a force to be reckoned with, and it’s only the beginning of their TV success. “‘Rap Sh!t’ has taught me that dreams do come true,” KaMillion says confidently. “It taught me that I can actually act and be on set for 15-hour days for six months and still keep going and going like there’s a battery in my back . . . It taught me that Black girls rock, and all they have to do is work hard and continue to open doors for other Black girls – shout out to Issa Rae! . . . We are walking in her blessings . . . I’m talking about Issa Rae the legend, the Issaverse, baby. [‘Rap Sh!t’] taught me that Issa runs the world, pretty much.”

For viewers who think they know who “Rap Sh!t” may be inspired by (per executive producers Yung Miami and JT of City Girls), its leading ladies have a simple instruction for them. “People should just watch the show, gather those things for themselves, and then just see what it’s giving,” KaMillion says frankly. “Give the show a chance,” Osman adds. “I mean, I get it because it’s Miami and it’s two rappers, but, yeah, just watch the show.”

The first two episodes of “Rap Sh!t” premiere on HBO Max on July 21 at 9 p.m. ET.

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