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September 12, 2018 at 02:00 AM EDT

Even though she created Insecure, Issa Rae was still nervous about starring on the HBO comedy when the show first began shooting two years ago.

“I hadn’t acted in a while since I did my web series, and then even that first day on set, I was in the last scene of the day, so I was kind of nervous,” says Rae, who’s nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series at the 70th annual Emmy Awards, in our Awardist video series above. “Luckily, the first scene was with [Yvonne Orji], who plays Molly on the show, my best friend. It was just that moment, and chemistry with her, it just locked for me, like, ‘We’re doing this, we’re on a ride, and this is it.'”

Emmys 2018 poll: Who should win for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series?

Merie W. Wallace/HBO

Three seasons in, Rae, who has received two Golden Globe nominations, admits that she still struggles with the show’s emotional scenes — especially the ones shared with Jay Ellis — because she doesn’t like to show her emotions.

“I tend to hide my vulnerabilities,” she says. “So the scenes with Jay, who plays Lawrence in the first season and second season, where we really just had to bare it all were emotionally draining. You’re tapping into a real place.”

However, the end result always makes it worth it. “It feels cathartic, because I don’t do that in real life. To be able to do that through that character is hard but rewarding.”

Watch the video above for more from Rae, and catch her work in Insecure, airing Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.

The 70th Emmy Awards will be broadcast Monday, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC. Check out the full list of nominees here.

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