Yvonne Orji is brimming with gratitude. As dim as the world is when we connect over the phone early May, the Insecure star is embracing the opportunity to slow down during what her friend Devi Brown deems a "divine timeout." "I want to come out of this whole and healed," Yvonne tells xoNecole. "I can't hide behind my 'busy' anymore. God, you sat me down to work on me. Let me get to know me without any distractions."
While her character Molly has indeed become a trending topic for seemingly all the wrong reasons this season of Insecure, the Nigerian-American actress is thankful for the light she is able to pass on through comedy even in the face of a global pandemic. "I think our fans are so vocal, and [the show] resonates with them so much because they've been these characters. They've experienced these characters. They know these characters," she points out. "Thank God that I get to be a part of content that shifts lives, that shifts perspectives, that creates conversations."
Credit: Jessica Dao/HBO
"It's so interesting that God was depositing seeds in me that I didn't know were going to be planted and that I could get fruit from."
This month, Yvonne takes center stage in her first HBO special, Momma, I Made It! (June 6) where she does all of the above as she grants fans access into her world beyond the hit series. "It's momentous," she says. Shot at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., the special also documents the comedian's recent trip back to the soil of her childhood, Nigeria, this past January. "The fact that I get to bring my two homes in perfect equilibrium to the special...I've been crying all morning," she reveals.
With a book entitled Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams set to debut next year, this opportunity is more than a milestone for the entertainer. It's a full-circle moment. "My first foray into humor was sneaking into my parents' bedroom and watching Def Comedy Jam, and I say sneaking in because their bedroom was the only one that had the 'box'," she reflects with a laugh. "I know that I wasn't watching that saying, One day I'm going to be a comedian.' And, 'One day I'm going to have a HBO comedy special,' but it's so interesting that God was depositing seeds in me that I didn't know were going to be planted and that I could get fruit from."
In Momma, I Made It!, Yvonne ignites laughter as she chronicles growing up in a Nigerian household in the DMV, capturing the humor that lies in the hyphen of a layered identity. She hilariously traces her struggle to find love while touching on why you'll never catch her extinguishing the standards she's set. In the midst, she also makes room to illuminate Nigerian creatives who, like her, abandoned the dreams their parents outlined for them in search of their own.
Credit: Jessica Dao/HBO
"The mindset was God, I'm going to go full throttle, and you are now responsible--because where God leads, He provides--for getting me to a place where this will all make sense to everybody and hopefully, if you are the true redeemer, you're going to redeem this relationship, and I know He's done that."
"I really had to yield [my parents] to [God]. If I held onto trying not to make them so disappointed, I would have betrayed my purpose," Yvonne tells me when thinking back to the moment she chose to walk away from public health to pursue a career in entertainment. "The mindset was God, I'm going to go full throttle, and you are now responsible--because where God leads, He provides--for getting me to a place where this will all make sense to everybody and hopefully, if you are the true redeemer, you're going to redeem this relationship, and I know He's done that."
It's the reason why Momma, I Made It! is deeper than a comedy set. It is a testament to what lies on the other side of faith--a celebration of a dream realized. "I hate regret more than I hate fear," Yvonne muses. "That's why you're talking to me today. That's why everybody knows what my name is."
Watch Yvonne slay in her first stand-up comedy special Momma, I Made It! airing Saturday, June 6 at 10PM on HBO.
Featured image via Jessica Dao/HBO