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God Told ‘Insecure’ Star Yvonne Orji to Do Comedy. Now She Has Her First Stand-Up Special.

When we connected with Yvonne Orji to talk about her role as Molly on HBO’s Insecure and her first hour-long stand-up special Momma, I Made It!, airing Saturday night on the cable network, it was two days after George Floyd had been killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. 

Interviews in recent weeks had already been starting with awkward pleasantries owed to the shutdown, and this added another layer. 

“I was doing OK, and then the events of the last couple of days came about,” she said. “Even in the middle of a global pandemic, somehow black men and women are being shot dead. Like copy, copy. We’re not even allowed outside. Like outside is closed, yet somehow we’re still being slaughtered.”

Orji’s Twitter account in recent days has been, like that of many black celebrities, a steady stream of messages of anger, support, information, and videos of protesters and examples of police violence, some of her own posting and some retweeted from other accounts. 

On Sunday, the day that Insecure airs new episodes—and Orji, along with the cast and creative team, typically live-tweet the broadcast with viewers—protests raged across the country. The official Insecure social media account followed the lead of series co-star and writer Natasha Rothwell and posted a message to the show’s fans, which Orji shared on her own account, too.

“Though the streets of Los Angeles today look much different from what you’ll see in tonight’s episode—and though it feels, in the words of Natasha Rothwell, “lowkey tone-deaf” to promote a television show when there’s so much collective suffering—we hope this celebration of Black life, love, and community can provide some solace to anyone hurting or needs a laugh.”

“Black lives are beautiful, Black lives are complex, and Black lives matter,” the message continued. “We wouldn’t be here without you, and now we’d love to be there for you.” 

In that same spirit, it’s a vital time to tell Orji’s own story, as she turns in her most complex, talked-about work yet as Molly on Insecure and premieres her first stand-up special. 

Momma, I Made It! is part-documentary and part-comedy set, a love letter to her upbringing as a first-generation Nigerian-American. Footage of her first visit back to Lagos since her Hollywood breakout is interspersed with stand-up about her unique experience honing an identity from two different cultures: The conservative, Nigerian one her parents instilled in her, and the more progressive one in the Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., where she grew up. 

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