Yvonne Orji breaks down her new HBO comedy special, life after ‘Insecure’ and more on ‘Acting Up’

Orji's brand new special, "Yvonne Orji: A Whole Me" is currently streaming on HBO Max.

On the latest episode of theGrio’s “Acting Up” podcast, Cortney Wills speaks with Yvonne Orji, breaking down her new HBO comedy special, life after “Insecure” and more.

“Yvonne Orji: A Whole Me” is the performer’s second HBO comedy special and follows her acclaimed debut, “Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It!,” which dropped in 2020. This time around, Orji is in a much different place in her life following the end of the massive success of “Insecure” on which she played lead character Molly for five seasons. The new special also comes after the shifts in the world the COVID-19 pandemic brought, which she believes in many ways helped her become the best version of herself.

“I call it ‘grown up’ comedy,” Orji explained to Wills. “It’s more reflective. It has levels. The first part I’m just talking a lot about the healing, the journey, what I learned and unlearned. Then, you know, right around the 23-, 24-minute mark we ramp up the fun, because I’m an upper kind of comedian. I can’t let it go too low.”

49th International Emmy Awards
Yvonne Orji, last year at the 49th International Emmy Awards, has a second HBO comedy special, which is currently streaming. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

The first special introduced a wide audience to Orji as a comedian outside of “Insecure,” but in the current one she has more freedom for exploration. “The pressure with the second one was not even that I had to top the first one, it’s that I hope people will understand that this isn’t the same one,” she explained. “The way that I’m approaching it is because of the introspection that I had in the pandemic and I am a little bit more in my bag now. I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like.”

Orji sold the second special to HBO as an African “In Living Color,” hence it features a lot more sketches in between the stand-up versus the video packages of her in Nigeria with her family in the first special. “You’re kind of getting a little bit of everything I envisioned all at once.”

The sketches also allowed her to bring her acting chops to it, something fans have come to know and love from her turn on “Insecure.” On display, too, is her producing work for the other actors in the sketches. “Life after ‘Insecure’ is letting people know, I can do drama. I can do comedy. I can do producing. I can do writing! I’m even more further in my bag, as the young people say these days.”

Speaking to what she is looking to do after playing Molly, she said she wants to do things that, “feel most right” to her in this moment. “Do I resonate with it? Why am I the one playing this role versus anybody else? So that’s where I am.”

And acting isn’t the only medium she has her sights on, as she recently made her directorial debut with a short, “Jamal.” “That was a new hat, but I stepped into it and I really liked it.”

“Yvonne Orji: A Whole Me” is currently streaming on HBO Max. The full episode of “Acting Up,” featuring the full conversation with Orji and Wills, is also available to stream where podcasts are available.

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