Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

'I'm Growing and Elevating in Real Time': The Root Presents: It's Lit! Gets Bamboozled With Insecure's Yvonne Orji

The Emmy-nominated actress and comedian leans into her faith for her debut book, Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams.

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Image for article titled 'I'm Growing and Elevating in Real Time': The Root Presents: It's Lit! Gets Bamboozled With Insecure's Yvonne Orji
Photo: Allen Cooley, Illustration: Angelica Alzona

For many in the Black community, Sundays are sacred—and not just because it’s the day those of us raised as Christians traditionally praise and worship. In recent years, Sundays in certain seasons are also the days we can expect new episodes of a series that has become part of the Black entertainment canon: HBO’s groundbreaking Insecure.

For five seasons, we have followed the ups and downs of a crew of Black millennials in Los Angeles, largely centered around the intense and occasionally fraught friendship of Issa Dee, portrayed by creator Issa Rae, and overachieving attorney Molly Carter, artfully embodied by Yvonne Orji. But before Orji was earning a 2020 Emmy nomination for her portrayal of the exacting but always lovable Molly, she was toughing it out as a stand-up comic—a far cry from the medical doctor she’d initially set out to be, and defying the expectations of her Nigerian parents.

It’s an unexpected career trajectory she chronicles in her first book, an inspirational tome titled Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams. As Orji tells us during this week’s episode of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!, her unconventional path literally required stepping out on faith. Thankfully, she did so under the direction of a divine power; a whirlwind experience she’s now sharing with others.

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Image for article titled 'I'm Growing and Elevating in Real Time': The Root Presents: It's Lit! Gets Bamboozled With Insecure's Yvonne Orji
Image: Worthy Books

“I mean, for me, I’m growing and elevating in real time. And for me, I felt like I’d reached the end of a chapter in my life that I know a lot of other people are either in the process of being in or trying to figure out how to get through,” Orji explains. “And for me, I always hated when you ask somebody who’s ‘made it’ to any successful level, ‘Like, yo, so you know, what was it like before?’ And they’re just like, ‘Well, you know, we started from the bottom, Fam. Now we here.’ Okay...well, I get that and that’s cool, but like when you weren’t here, what did you do over there?”

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“And for me, I’m still in awe that I’m here because I never dreamt of being here, you know?” she continues. “I mean, I just was minding my business. going about my life, and God was like, ‘Hey you, over here; I’ve got some plans for you.’ And those plans sounded great, until you start living them and you’re like, ‘This is some trash...I got to go through all of this, to get to that?! You can have these plans, Jesus.’

“But I knew, like, what if there’s something really dope on the other side, and I just stick it out just a little bit longer,” she muses, later adding: “And so I think for me, it was important to offer this right now because it’s so fresh. And I didn’t know when I was writing this that we would all be in a season where we all felt bamboozled by something—if it’s not Jesus, it’s COVID, it’s the Delta strain, it’s something. Something took us off what we thought we were going to be and because it did, now we are able to reevaluate, revisit, recenter, repurpose and like...shift.”

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Hear more from the inspiring Yvonne Orji in Episode 53 of The Root Presents: It’s Lit!: The Joy of Bamboozling, With Yvonne Orji, available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Google Podcasts, Amazon, NPR One, TuneIn, and Radio Public.