Where Is She Now? : Yvonne Orji

About three years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Yvonne Orji after meeting her at the Umu Igbo Unite 11th Annual Conference in New Jersey in 2015.“Umu Igbo Unite (UIU) works to connect, convene, and empower the next generation of Igbo professionals through networking opportunities and cultural exchange to preserve the Igbo heritage”. Yvonne Orji happened to be one of the comedians for the Comedy Show during the conference. From the moment she stepped on stage as one of the only female comedians,  it was at that moment she earned a fan because her relatable jokes had me laughing the whole time. I just knew I had to interview her for my blog. I remember she was in a rush to leave to catch a flight, so she told me we could do a phone interview a few days later, and she kept to her promise. Of course the day of the interview, I happened to be stuck in the New Jersey train station with my phone on 20%, and to make matters worse I had no paper or pen on me. I literally had to do this interview on a napkin from Dunkin Donuts, the back of a receipt in my purse, and a borrowed pen from a stranger lol.. crazy I know, but knowing she had a busy schedule, I was not going to miss the opportunity. But everything turned out great, so here is the link to the Interview  http://madamkoverage.com/2015/09/15/umu-igbo-unite-11th-annual-convention-recap/ 

I decided to post it below, just so you can see how much she has evolved within three years.

1. Where were you born & raised? 

 I was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, so I claim NAIJA all day, but I’ve lived in Maryland for most of my time in the US. I moved to LA from Harlem, New York.

2. What gave you the confidence to start stand up? Did your upbringing influence you to make jokes? 

I entered the Miss Nigeria in America Pageant in 2006, and I needed a talent. I didn’t know I needed a talent until about two weeks before the competition. They were like, “So what’s your talent?” I prayed because I was so unsure on what to do, and God revealed to me that my talent would be “comedy”. I may have not won the competition ( came 2nd or 3rd runner up) but my true calling was revealed to me.

3. Where do you get your material from? Are you selective about the type of videos you produce for the public

Most of my material is observational. Coming from a Christian background, I stay away from cursing and vulgarity. I feel that clean comedy doesn’t have to mean boring comedy. 

 4. Do you work well under pressure ? 

I have performed enough times, that I am now comfortable on stage. Of course sometimes you feel a bit jittery, but once I hit the stage that all goes away. You have to know your audience, because every joke is not for every crowd. You have to know how to move on from joke that was not received well.

 5. Who are some people in the industry that you might look up to, for guidance, and ways to enhance your craft?

There are a lot of people in the industry that I look up to, one being Chris Rock. I remember him saying, ” It is important to always be professional”. You never know who you will come in contact with, so it is important to always carry yourself with dignity and respect no matter the setting. And be genuine  in what you do, I like things to feel organic and not forced.

6. What inspired you to come to Umu Igbo Unite? 

I love that Umu Igbo Unite gives “Igbo children” an opportunity to come together for a weekend and connect and network. Being that both of my parents are Nigerian, it is important for our generation to continue to live out the legacies and traditions from our parents. I loved that everywhere I turned it was someone who is just like me. We definitely took over the hotel that weekend. I also loved that I had the opportunity to be apart of the comedy show for the last two years.

7. Are there any major projects that you are currently working on, that you would like people to be aware of ? Such as the First Gen Show? 

Recently I landed a role in the HBO Comedy Pilot called, “Insecure”. Click the link to read more http://deadline.com/2015/08/jay-ellis-yvonne-orji-star-hbo-comedy-pilot-insecure-issa-rae-1201504614/

I also wrote a sitcom pilot called,  “The First Gen Show”. The story is semi autobiographical and draws loosely from Yvonne’s stand-up routines and real life experiences. At it’s core, First Gen is about a Nigerian girl who trades medical school for a career in stand-up comedy and the adventures that ensue after her strict African mother discovers her plans. It’s a super funny and refreshing take on the modern day immigrant family. 

First Gen will resonate with a multitude of audiences, but especially, children of immigrant parents from a variety of backgrounds living in America, of which there are millions. The familiar themes of family, tradition and living up to parents’ expectations are universal, and extend beyond race, gender or religion. 

The Goal of First Gen is to be sold to a major network and produced into a sitcom that will be enjoyed by masses for years to come. To help those efforts, the FG team will produce a pilot presentation and a Docu-series.

Check out the Website & OFFICIAL TRAILER : http://www.firstgenshow.com/

8. How can readers get in contact with you?

Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/user/YveeO

Instagram: @YvonneOrji & @FirstGenShow

Twitter: @YvonneOrji

Facebook: Yvonne Orji

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Wow… and that was just THREE YEARS AGO? Reading through her interview again just gives me goosebumps because since then we have all fallen in love with her relatable character Molly on HBO’s hit show ” Insecure”. We have witnessed her gracing the stage, red carpets, and magazines with some of your favorite celebrities. As mentioned in the interview above, she looked up to Chris Rock and now she has had the opportunity to work with him. We witnessed her hold down the torch for all the Nigerians/Africans while she did “Shoki Dance” in the White House during Barack Obama’s last term, and always staying true to her culture any chance she gets. We have also seen her do a “TED Talk”called ” The Wait Is Sexy” and not falling into societies stereotypes, and how it is ok to be a certain age and still be a virgin. I love watching how she has grown in such a short period of time.I love supporting women who follow their dreams, and I love seeing my own people (Nigerians/Africans) make it to the top! So hopefully this will push someone to keep pushing until they reach their dreams, don’t conform into what society is doing.

 

Thanks for Reading!

-Madam Koverage

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