Yvonne Orji Interview: ‘Insecure’
“I still can’t get used to hearing that!,” declares first-time Emmy nominee Yvonne Orji. “I saw it on a flyer for something and I was like ‘that’s me! They’re talking about me!,” she laughs. Watch our exclusive video interview with Orji above.
“Insecure” exploded at the Emmys this year with eight nominations including its first time in the lofty Best Comedy Series category. The show follows the highs and lows of life for a contemporary African-American woman and her friends in Los Angeles. It stars Emmy nominee Issa Rae, who co-created the show with Emmy winner Larry Wilmore (“The Bernie Mac Show”) and co-stars Orji, Jay Ellis, Alexander Hodge and Kendrick Sampson.
Orji decided to enter the season 4 finale “Lowkey Lost,” as her Emmy submission in the Best Comedy Supporting Actress race. While the actress had a number of worthy episodes to consider, she admits that choosing the season finale was ultimately a no-brainer.
“This season, while it’s still a comedy, there was definitely some heart,” she explains, noting that the season featured best friends Issa (Rae) and Molly (Orji) slowly drifting apart, leading to a heartbreaking break-up between the life-long friends. “There was something about the different levels in ‘Lowkey Lost’, Orji says. “It pulled so much emotion out of me. It was to see a woman begging. Begging to be loved, begging to be understood, begging to be forgiven, begging to not lose. I was like, this one is it. This is it.”
The episode ends on a satisfying note as the two friends eventually get together to talk about their differences and hopefully find some common ground. It is all the more emotional because Molly is already in a vulnerable place having just argued with her boyfriend Andrew (Australian actor Hodge). For that earlier scene, Orji credits showrunner Prentice Penny (who wrote and directed the episode) for pushing the actors out of their comfort zones. “He pulled so much out of me that I didn’t even know was there. You get the script, you deliver the lines, I’ve been this character for four years, I get her, I know it,” she explains. “He left the camera rolling for five minutes and was like ‘we’re not done,’ and he sat in silence.”
“So as an actor, I’m like ‘what’s he waiting for, what do I need to do,” she whispers. “It was literally a process of Andrew and I finding different emotions, finding different levels, until the hurt of relationships past, the hurt of friendships past started welling up. And when you see Molly scramble, it was me fishing for all the things I wished I said, wanted to say, didn’t say.”