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Issa Rae still thinks about the Paris trip she didn't take

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Every week, a well-known guest draws a card from our Wild Card deck and answers a big question about their life. Today, it's actor and writer Issa Rae's turn. Just last year alone, Rae was in three Oscar-nominated movies, including "Barbie," and she won a Peabody Award. But even with all of her success, she tells Wild Card host Rachel Martin that she still wonders about the different paths that her life could have taken.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

RACHEL MARTIN: Pick a card - one, two, three.

ISSA RAE: Two.

MARTIN: Two. Do you have a belief system that helps you make sense of the world?

RAE: Yes, that everything happens for a reason - that gets me through so much. That gets me through those stupid mistakes and bad decisions. I'm a big fork-in-the-road person. Like, that is also something that haunts me - going down the wrong path. And so I assuage those concerns and fears by saying, like, this all happens for a reason. The reason could benefit me, or it'll benefit someone else, you know? Like, if this thing that I really wanted didn't come to me, it was because it was supposed to go to this person, and they're having a great time. I'm so happy for them. Like, it just wasn't for me.

MARTIN: Yeah. Can you give me an example of the fork in the road? Is there a really profound one that you still think about...

RAE: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...That - the other life?

RAE: The Paris trip - there was - I was supposed to study abroad. I was supposed to go to Paris, and there was also, like, a guy there that I was talking to really seriously. But I had this opportunity to submit - what was it? Oh, it was, like, a Sundance thing and - for a script that I'd written with a friend. But I had to be in town if we won. If I went to Paris, I just wouldn't be able to get the opportunity to, like, do this Sundance thing.

And so, you know, it was going to be lit. My - some of my friends were going in addition to this - you know, this guy was there. And he was, like, one of my first real loves, and that would have been just - it would have just been, you know, a different life path. And so I was like, I'm not going to go. And we weren't finalists. So I had wasted this trip and the memories and...

MARTIN: That relationship.

RAE: Yes. But then so many other things happened, but I always wonder, like, what would my life have been? How many children would I have prematurely if I had taken that trip? But there are so many other moments where it's just like, oh, my God, if that hadn't happened, I wouldn't have had the happiness that I have today or...

MARTIN: Right.

RAE: Like, what would have - if I hadn't made that one move, if I hadn't said no to that one thing - there are a couple of things like that that sometimes keep me up at night.

MARTIN: Yeah. You don't need me to tell you, but you weren't supposed to be with that guy.

RAE: Definitely wasn't supposed to be with that guy at all - at all. But I still think about it.

MARTIN: Yeah. You're thinking about it right now.

(LAUGHTER)

RAE: That wasn't supposed to be. That wasn't supposed to be seen. I am happily married. Thank you.

CHANG: And you can hear much more on the Wild Card podcast.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.