As Issa’s best friend Molly on “Insecure,” Yvonne Orji was catapulted into the spotlight, helping to diversify media representations of black women with a character that was at once educated and driven, and complex and messy. Considering her career goals, she’s on the right track already.
How did you get into comedy?
I entered the Miss Nigeria in America pageant — yes, it’s a thing that existed. This was when I was getting my masters. I had a dress, knew how to walk and was smart, so I could answer a final question, but I did not have a talent. And the last thing I remembered playing on the piano was “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and that wasn’t gonna win me no pageant. So I got down on my knees and prayed like, “God. I just took out a Macy’s credit card to get this dress. I need a talent.” And it was my first [credit card], so I was like, “What is credit?” I spent $200 on this dress, so I left the tag on and took it back, because that is what you do when you’re a broke college student.
And then loud as day I heard the Holy Spirit say: “Do comedy.” I was like “You better stop playing. This is Yvonne that’s talking to you, the daughter that's not the comedian.”
He was like, “Cool. What else you got?”
And when God starts asking you rhetorical questions, you know what’s up. Then I was like I’m either going to trust him or I’m not. I just started writing what's funny about being Nigerian in America. Before I knew it, I had five minutes of stuff my mom or dad would say, and people were laughing [at the pageant]. After that, people wanted to know if I did weddings. I then started doing paid corporate shows and because I was clean, I was getting a lot of work.
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