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Arts and Entertainment

Comicís relief: Yvonne Orjiís finds time for standup, TV and writing
Feb. 15 performance at Spirit Square
 
Published Friday, February 14, 2020 10:00 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | SECHEL PUBLIC RELATIONS
Comic Yvonne Orji , who stars in HBO’s “Insecure,” brings the “Lagos to Laurel Tour” to McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square on Feb. 15.

Comic Yvonne Orji’s busy 2020 includes a stop in Charlotte.


She launched the “Lagos to Laurel Tour,” which heads to McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square on Feb. 15 at 8 p.m.


Many know Orji as Molly from HBO’s comedy “Insecure,” starring alongside series creator Issa Rae, which debuts its fourth season on April 12. However, Orji is a writer in addition to an actress and comedian. She sees all of her pursuits working in tandem with one another.


“All of them kind of feed into each other,” Orji said. “I’m grateful for all of them. They give me different things. Being on the show feels like you’re going to school with a couple of your favorite friends, and you get to play around—it’s like recess. Comedy is that immediate interaction. If they feel you, they’re laughing. If they’re not, they’re not. You know instantly whether you’re doing a good job or not.”


How does the Nigerian-American creative find time to do it all?


“I’m a Nigerian woman, so there’s a thousand things on my plate, plus a baby on my back and a pail of water on my head,” Orji said. “The only way I know to do things is to stack them up, and by the grace of God, I’m able to keep going and keep thriving and keep the fire spreading. You’ve gotta strike when the iron is hot. Right now the all of the irons are on, and they’re pretty hot.”


Orji is developing “First Gen,” a 30-minute sitcom with Oprah Winfrey and David Oyelowo as executive producers. The family comedy follows a Nigerian girl’s decision to pursue stand-up comedy rather than medical school, and her African mother’s reaction. Orji is also writing “Bamboozled by Jesus,” a faith-based advice book where she shares her interpretation of biblical stories as they pertain to her journey. Add podcast co-host to her list, as she and Luvvie Ajayi co-host “Jesus & Jollof.” Bottom line, she’s busy.


“The book is very personal,” Orji said. “It’s an isolating journey. It’s me on my couch in my home for seven months straight canceling events, not really going anywhere, just hunkering down and churning out 70,000-80,000 words, but knowing you birthed this thing that took so long, and people can really hear your heart. People can be inspired to live out their best lives. The book is like my passion project. I’m not the only one, and I shouldn’t be the only one who gets to live out her dream. If there is anything you see about my story that could inspire you, please apply it to your life, so you too can live out your wildest dreams.”


Orji, who earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s in public health from George Washington University before pursuing a career in Los Angeles, began dabbling in comedy at age 23, but committed to it at 25. Orji, who recently turned 36, has spent the last decade dedicated to pursuing her passion, and it is more than she ever imagined.
“I saw a lot [in my future],” Orji said. “I don’t know that I saw necessarily this. Even as big as I dreamt back then, my dreams have been surpassed. It’s kind of a beautiful thing.”

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