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How God Tricked Yvonne Orji Into Living The Life Of Her Dreams

How God Tricked Yvonne Orji Into Living The Life Of Her Dreams

Look Momma, Yvonne made it!

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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

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That's right, the first pandemic I lived through was not Covid, but the pandemic of the Black male relationship expert. I was young – thirteen to be exact – when Steve Harvey published his best-selling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Though he was still just a stand-up comedian, oversized suit hoarder, and man on his third marriage at the time, his relationship advice was taken as the gospel truth.

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It’s no wonder then that a man that donned a box cut well into the 2000s was able to convince women across the nation to not have sex for the first three months of a relationship. Or that a slew of other Black men had their go at telling Black women that they’re not good enough and why their book, seminar, or show will be the thing that makes them worthy of a Good Man™.

This is how we end up marrying men who cancel twice before taking us on a “date” in the Popeyes parking lot, or husbands writing social media posts about how their Black wife is not “the most beautiful” or “the most intelligent” or the latest season of trauma dumping known as Black Love on OWN.

Now that I’ve reached my late twenties, many things about how Black women approach dating and relationships have changed and many things have remained the same. For many Black women, the idea of chronic singleness is not the threat that it used to be. Wanting romance doesn’t exist in a way that threatens to undermine the other relationships we have with our friends, family, and ourselves as it once did, or at least once was presented to us. There is a version of life many of us are embracing where a man not wanting us, is not the end of what could still be fruitful and vibrant life.

There are still Black women out there however who have yet to unlearn the toxic ideals that have been projected onto us about our worthiness in relation to our intimate lives. I see it all the time online. The absolute humiliation and disrespect some Black women are willing to stomach in the name of being partnered. The hoops that some Black women are willing to jump through just to receive whatever lies beneath the bare minimum.

It's worth remembering that there are different forces at play that gather to make Black women feast off the scraps we are given. A world saturated by colorism, fatphobia, anti-Blackness, ableism, and classism will always punish Black women who demand more for themselves. Dismantling these systems also means divesting from any and everything that makes us question our worth.

Because truth be told, Black women are more than worthy of having a love that is built on mutual respect and admiration. A love that is honey sweet and radiates a light that rivals the sun. A love that is a steadying calming force that doesn’t bring confusion or anxiety. Black women deserve a love that is worthy of the prize that we are.

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Featured image: Getty Images

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