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Yvonne Orji Shares Pressures Of Growing Up Nigerian: "I Was On My Way To Med School"

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On HBO's Insecure, Yvonne Orji plays Molly, a career-driven badass with killer style and a sharp tongue. In reality, Yvonne Orji still exemplifies all of these traits, but instead of making her mark at a high-end law firm, she's making waves in the comedic industry.


Raised in a Nigerian household, Yvonne explained that her parents had strict expectations for her life, none of which included stand-up comedy. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, she said:

"Well, I was on my way to med school. My parents are Nigerian immigrants and they are like 'you must be a doctor' and I was like 'I will try'. I took organic chemistry and I was like maybe no. It was the first time I got an F."

Despite her disinterest in her studies, Yvonne pressed on and eventually earned her master's degree. She even went as far as traveling to Africa to evade her parent's wishes of pursuing a career as a medical professional.

"I couldn't tell my parents I didn't want to go to med school so instead I got my masters in public health and still couldn't tell my parents, so I went to Liberia post-conflict because it was easier to work in a war-torn country than tell my parents I don't want to go to med school.
"I entered this Miss Nigeria in America pageant. And I didn't know you needed to have a talent. I was like I was not going to tribal-dance on stage. So I prayed, and I was like 'God I need help', and the loudest I heard was 'do comedy' and I was like 'no'."

Eventually, Yvonne listened to that voice and shared with her parents that she wanted to pursue a career in comedy. She was recently on The Breakfast Club and explained that the fear of her parents' disappointment and her inability to listen to God's plans almost cost her the life of her dreams.

"I had to get a whole master's degree before I could do comedy bruh. I couldn't even bring up the word comedy until I was like, 'Ma, I got two degrees. I owe Sallie Mae a lot of money, can I please now go do this other thing I love?' I know people in med school, like I wanna be a doctor first, but I really want to do graphic design. Well you can go do that now!"

Now, Yvonne can proudly say that she's paid Sallie Mae back (in full), submitting to God's will for her life have offered possibilities that she could have never imagined.

"I feel like God is just… melodies from heaven, are just raining down on me. I feel like I'm in a good place but because I'm so African, I feel like it's not even enough. I feel like I'm just getting started, I'm just scratching the surface. I have that leave nothing on the court mentality. Like what's next?"

Along with filming for the newly confirmed Season 4 of Insecure, the young actress is also writing a new book. She told Charlamagne:

"It's personal and also relational, in terms of God and how God like ruins every plan that you had, in the best way. You plan it, and He laughs at it. He's like, 'Oh, that's the best you can do? 'When the bible says, 'Eyes have not seen, nor ears heard,' it's like if you can see it, it's like, 'Well, I told you I was gonna do stuff that you can't even see or imagine, why would you think that [your plan] would be good enough? Because I got some stuff you can't even imagine."'

You better preach, Yvonne because Lord knows that was a word we all needed to hear today!

Take a note from Yvonne's book and but some trust in your gut and faith in your talents. Sometimes what we have planned for ourselves is minuscule compared to what God has in store for our lives. Check out the interview in full by pressing play on the vid below.

Yvonne Orji Talks ‘Insecure’, Strict Parents, Stand-Up Comedy + Morewww.youtube.com

Featured image by Lauren Elisabeth / Shutterstock.com

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