Yvonne Orji: the path to be­com­ing #goals

Glamour (South Africa) - - Contents -

The ac­tress talks Hol­ly­wood, star­dom and style

Her char­ac­ter, Molly Carter, on the hit show In­se­cure is con­sid­ered a cul­tural icon by many. Now, the ac­tress is re­veal­ing how she’s not so dif­fer­ent from the role that thrust her into the spot­light in this ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Glam­our’s fea­tures writer, Yolisa Mjamba.

Nige­rian-born ac­tress Yvonne Orji’s star is on the rise, but she hasn’t let that get to her head. She’s star­ring in one of so­cial me­dia’s most talked about se­ries, and her bud­ding stand-up com­edy ca­reer has seen her head­line for Chris Rock’s ‘To­tal Black­out’ tour. And yet she’s still a down-toearth girl who takes the New York sub­way like any­one else.

Here, the 34-year-old delves into the new sea­son of In­se­cure, which pre­miered on Vuzu on 12 Au­gust, the surge of African tal­ent in show busi­ness, the pres­sure that comes with the #goals phe­nom­e­non and why she’s not quite there yet.

1 Why has In­se­cure gained a cult- sta­tus and what can we ex­pect this sea­son?

The show de­picts peo­ple of colour in a way that’s real. You can con­nect each of the char­ac­ters with a friend or some­one you know. A lot of the time, char­ac­ters are cre­ated for non-black in­di­vid­u­als or it’s a stereo­type of what they think black peo­ple are. Whereas these char­ac­ters are based off of reg­u­lar peo­ple, so they’re grounded in that. This new sea­son is go­ing to be very dif­fer­ent. You’re go­ing to see the char­ac­ters placed in very unique sce­nar­ios. Will they fi­nally grow up and learn from

their mis­takes? Will they fig­ure out what works for them and what doesn’t? Sea­son three will ex­plore all of that.

2 How sim­i­lar are you to your char­ac­ter?

Molly is a gem of an in­di­vid­ual. I know a lot of Mollys and I can be a Molly some­times, es­pe­cially when it comes to work. She’s a power player, but she’s still fig­ur­ing out how to be a boss. In the last sea­son, Molly found out her male col­leagues were be­ing paid more than her. That’s hap­pened to me, too. I also had to stand up for my­self in or­der to sort the sit­u­a­tion out. At heart, this char­ac­ter is just a hope­less ro­man­tic. She wants love, but looks for it in the wrong places. I think we can all re­late to that.

3 Molly is a boss at work, but her per­sonal life is a work in progress. As a whole, would you say that she’s a role model?

I think that she has the po­ten­tial to be a role model, but at this stage in her life, that’s not what she as­pires to be. But right now, she’s not a role model. She’s still at the Pixie Dust phase be­fore she hits the Black Girl Magic phase. One day we’ll all be #goals, but at the mo­ment, we’ve got to make the mis­takes that will lead to that.

4 There is a wave of tal­ent emerg­ing from Africa mak­ing a splash in Hol­ly­wood – your­self, Issa Rae, Trevor Noah, Lupita Ny­ong’o. Why do you think this is?

Africans have al­ways been sto­ry­tellers, but the ex­pec­ta­tion from our par­ents ex­cluded the per­form­ing arts as a vi­able means of suc­cess. If you trav­elled to the US, then you want your kids to live the ‘Amer­i­can Dream’. But the US has tons of op­por­tu­ni­ties, there aren’t just five oc­cu­pa­tions. We don’t all have to be doc­tors and en­gi­neers to ex­cel. That’s why you see a lot of us com­ing out the gate and burst­ing through, be­cause we can’t af­ford to fail. For other peo­ple it’s like, “If you fail, you fail.” But for us, you’d be fail­ing your fam­ily and a whole vil­lage of peo­ple ex­pect­ing you to do great things. And if you no­tice, a lot of this group of per­form­ers have dif­fer­ent de­grees – I have a masters in pub­lic health from Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity. We’re not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We’re com­ing in like, “Yo, I’ve spent 24 years in school and now I’m try­ing to do things that no one else in my fam­ily has done.”

5 What ad­vice would you give to young Africans look­ing to em­u­late your suc­cess?

Be your most au­then­tic self. Some peo­ple come to Hol­ly­wood and they’re like, “This is how you should be a star,” and they try to make them­selves into some­thing they’re not. If you’re watch­ing TV with your friends and you’re like, “How come I never see some­one who rep­re­sents me?” Then you should try to be the per­son that cre­ates that.

6 What in­spires you?

My in­spi­ra­tion comes from so many dif­fer­ent places, from see­ing my peers suc­ceed to read­ing a bi­ble verse or see­ing some­thing on Twit­ter. I’m in­spired daily by so many dif­fer­ent things and I think that’s what keeps the cre­ative juices flow­ing.

7 De­scribe your style

I have two dif­fer­ent styles. On one hand, I love be­ing com­fort­able: sweat­pants and a T-shirt are my ev­ery­day look. Plus, I have three older broth­ers, so I’m very much a tomboy at heart. But when I started do­ing the show, I was in­tro­duced to more fash­ion la­bels, es­pe­cially on the red car­pet. I like some­thing that’s form-fit­ting with a pop – ei­ther a pop of colour or some­thing with struc­ture. I’m not try­ing to blend in or fol­low trends. I’ll put two things to­gether and my stylist will be like, “Where did this come from?” I’m al­ways try­ing to cre­ate some­thing new from some­thing that has al­ways been there. I want to look like an ex­cla­ma­tion point.

8 Best red car­pet mo­ment?

I’ve worn some re­ally amaz­ing things, but I re­ally liked the green jacket and shorts set from Dries van Noten that I wore to the 2017 MTV Movie Awards. The Delpozo dress I wore to the Essence Black Women in Hol­ly­wood 2017 Awards is also a fave.

9 What’s the cra­zi­est fan en­counter you’ve had?

Fan en­coun­ters are very in­ter­est­ing for me, be­cause I feel like I’m just a reg­u­lar per­son at the end of the day. I still think I can take pub­lic trans­port in New York City with­out any­one stop­ping me. This one time, though, I was on the train with a friend, and as we were get­ting to the sub­way door, this girl freaks out and starts scream­ing and hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing. Her friend was lit­er­ally try­ing to calm her down. I was just cool and friendly with her, I gave her a hug. But when I got off the train, I thought to my­self, ‘What just hap­pened?’

10 What are your ca­reer am­bi­tions?

To keep grow­ing, go­ing and push­ing for­ward. As a co­me­dian, I’ll be head­ing to Lon­don to do a few shows soon. So I def­i­nitely want to keep grow­ing in that area. TV wise, one of my big­gest goals is to get my sit­com about a Nige­ri­anAmer­i­can fam­ily, called First Gen, made. But I al­ways stick to my mantra: Let’s just keep go­ing, and let’s keep be­ing bet­ter ver­sions of our­selves and work hard.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.