Even if you’ve been hibernating under a rock for the last one year, you can’t have missed the runaway success that is Insecure, HBO’s comedy-drama.
The critically acclaimed show, which premiered on our screens last autumn, is partially based on the show’s creator, Issa Rae’s popular web series, Awkward Black Girl. We can’t get enough of the portrayal of the crazy, neurotic and real-life characters, going through love, heartache and compromising situations, against a backdrop of the contemporary black experience.
Molly, who plays Issa’s best friend, is a successful lawyer, but despite this, is struggling to find her romantic soulmate. Testament to her acting prowess, Yvonne Orji, who plays Molly, is very different to the character she plays. We jumped at the chance to interview her recently and she gave us the 411 on her pride in her Nigerian heritage, how she landed the role and not comprising her religious beliefs to play Molly, and much more.
Listen to the interview:
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
What does your Nigerian heritage mean to you?
“I tell people whenever they meet me, you know three things. I love to laugh, I love Jesus and I love being Nigerian. They find that out very, very quickly.”
“I think there’s a strength, there’s a work ethic, there’s a certain kind of machismo that comes with knowing that you are Nigerian and actually working that to your advantage. I mean, growing up, being Nigerian or being African was not heralded as cool, you know. But now it’s like ‘Oh you’re Nigerian, I want to help you.’ Or ‘You’re Nigerian, come, let’s do this thing together.”
How have your parents reacted to your success?
“They’re a lot happier now. In the beginning, it was kind of like, ‘we don’t know where this will go. We don’t know how this will turn out.’ And now it’s like ‘Okay, praise the Lord, because we did not know’. It was shaky there for a little bit.”
Tell us about your stand-up career
“I started doing stand-up in 2003. The first time I ever performed was at the Miss Nigeria in America pageant.”
“I thought it was going to be really simple, get a dress, do a final question and they were like ‘no we need you to have a talent.’ I didn’t have a talent so I did the most logical thing, which was to pray and I heard God tell me ‘do comedy.’ I was like, I don’t want to be the person who gets talked over and God was like ‘well what else have you got? Either you will trust me or you will not.’ So I trusted him and I performed a five minute set about what is funny about growing up as a Nigerian in America.”
How did you land the role of Molly?
“It wasn’t until I moved to LA in 2012 when I became aware of her (Issa) … We’d see each other around town like ‘hey, you’re doing it!’, ‘nah, you’re doing it!” And then when the opportunity for Molly came she sent me an email and was like ‘listen HBO are interested in my show, I think you would be cool for the role. There are no guarantees, you still have to audition.’ I read the script, and auditioned five times and I finally got it.”
How do you manage your religion and obviously being a virgin and playing such a sexually aggressive character?
“Yeah, you know, I say the same way that someone who doesn’t do drugs plays a crack addict… That doesn’t mean that they are addicted to cocaine. It’s acting and it’s not even…and not just like ‘oh it’s acting’, it’s not what it seems. It looks differently than what it actually is, in that before you do a sex scene it is so contrived.”
A word on the recent practicing safe sex controversy that’s kicked off all over twitter recently?
“Yeah, listen, I appreciate the fact that so many people are really hooked on condoms on this fake show and I hope that the same people who are hooked on condoms on this fake show are hooked on it in their real life. Because, that’s the more important thing, right? It’s like, ‘hey this show is not real. We’re not really having sex, but you all are. So, I hope that you are using protection because that’s when it counts.”
Are there any plans for you to come over to the UK at any point?
“I would love to come over. I want me and Gina Yashere to do a comedy show together.”