Yvonne Orji, made popular for her role as Molly on Issa Rae’s “Insecure,” is no newbie on the Hollywood movie scene.
The 34-year-old Nigeria-born, Maryland-raised actress, who upon her return to the U.S. after working on HIV prevention in Liberia, chose a career in comedy instead of becoming a doctor as she had planned, knows what she wants and how to get it.
What might seem like a simple career change to you, is what Orji describes as a leap of faith.
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During a recent interview with Huffington Post, Orji opened up on her hustle, faith and of course, “Insecure” season three.
She revealed that she hustled for seven years, perfecting her craft, writing, taking acting classes, waiting tables and seizing every opportunity that to perform after moving to New York.
“I remember my mom [saying], ‘I don’t know… this acting thing, I don’t know,’” the actress said while speaking of her mom’s reluctance to buy into her career change.
“Then Lupita won an Oscar, and then she said, ‘Your friend has won.’ I didn’t even know Lupita at the time … but it became real for my mom.”
Orji eventually got a job as an artist in residence at the University of Richmond before moving to Los Angeles to write for TV One’s “Love That Girl.”
She also wrote a web series loosely based on her own life, “First Gen,” while still in L.A.
After a decade of constant hustle, Orji finally got her break in October 2016, after auditioning for what has quickly become one of the biggest shows for black millennials.
Orji has toured with Chris Rock and reportedly has a forthcoming project with Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish.
Very big deals.
According to her, the recipe for her success has been preparedness and faith.
“‘Stay ready’ has been like my mantra before ‘Insecure’ and all. A lot of people hustle differently, and I was like, you know what, let me hustle and create and let me have something to show, cuz my hustle led to opportunity,” she said.
She took the opportunity to share this same message in her latest campaign with Colgate Total, advising folks to “stay ready and you don’t have to get ready,” because an opportunity is likely to knock when you least expect it.
Orji also cited her Christian faith as the source of her strength which keeps her going when the path to the finish line isn’t always as clear.
“I let [my faith] guide me, because if I try to take the wheel, it’s about to be a mess,” she said. “I can only see what’s in front of me, but God can see what’s behind, what’s ahead of me, what’s beside me, and it just makes it so much easier to release control, cuz at the end of the day, if He brought me to it, He’s gonna have to bring me through it.”
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Orji, who’s currently filming Season 3 of “Insecure,” is championing the complexity and diversity of black people that should be celebrated on screen.
“I learned so much about black friendships, black experiences, through the show. I’m like yo, I’m learning a different type of blackness by being in the show,” she said, calling the opportunity a “blessing.”
“There are different types of experiences, and all of them are valid and all of them deserve to be portrayed in a real way.”
“Insecure” Season 3 airs later this year.