Most people know Yvonne Orji as Molly Carter, the highly-driven (and occasionally self-sabotaging) best friend of Issa Rae’s protagonist on HBO’s “Insecure.”
Did you know she’s a stand-up comedian, as well? Her first televised special, “Momma, I Made It!,” aired June 6 on HBO.
Orji examined all sorts of topics in her one-hour set — life, love and money — through the lens of her Nigerian background.
She shot portions of the special during a trip to Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, and to her ancestral village, hundreds of miles away.
“Being Nigerian has literally traced itself into everything I do,” she said in an interview with the Associated Press. “I think that’s where my comedy is derived from a lot of times.”
Orji’s path to comedy has been unusual. Her family moved from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, to the U.S. in 1989, then she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s in public health before trying stand-up as a contestant in the Miss Nigeria In America pageant in 2006.
“You’ve got to give your parents what they want, then you go and do the things you want to do,” she told the New York Times.
“Their minds were blown,” she told the Associated Press. “So I think for them it was just a surreal moment of, ‘Wow. Our daughter has made it enough where our community is now being highlighted on an international scale.'”
In her stand-up set, Orji addressed her parents’ lofty expectations for her — and their initial disappointment in her career path — as well as the pressure they put on her to find a husband.
“The first dude to show up at my house with a goat might be the one,” she joked.
You can catch Orji’s special, as well as her work on “Insecure,” streaming now on HBO.
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