News

'First Gen' Creator Yvonne Orji Lands Major Role In Issa Rae's HBO Comedy Pilot 'Insecure'

Yvonne Orji (creator & star of Nigerian-American sitcom pilot 'First Gen') will play the best friend in Issa Rae's HBO pilot 'Insecure.'


(Issa Rae, left, and Yvonne Orji. Photo via Facebook/Youtube)

What happens when two innovative digital content creators join forces on one of television's most critically-acclaimed networks? We'll find out soon enough.

Yvonne Orji, the creator and star of Nigerian-American sitcom pilot First Gen, has been cast in Issa Rae's highly-anticipated HBO comedy pilot Insecure. Rae catapulted to fame in 2011 when her award-winning YouTube web series Awkward Black Girl went viral.

According to DeadlineInsecure follows the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern day African-American woman through the eyes of Issa Dee, played by Rae. Orji will play Molly, Issa's best friend. Rae also serves as co-writter, along with The Nightly Show's Larry Wilmore, while music video director Melina Matsoukas (Solange's "Losing You," Rihanna's "We Found Love") is slated to direct.

An ecstatic Orji announced the news on her Instagram page, saying she was overjoyed to work with the "homie" Rae. "I told my mom," Orji added. "And she was really happy and after a beat goes...NOW ALL WE NEED IS TO FIND YOU A HUSBAND!"

Both actresses are first generation children, with Orji's family hailing from Nigeria and Rae's father from Senegal. The Awkward Black Girl star and her family also spent several childhood years living in her father's homeland.

"When we would visit our cousins in Senegal, everything pop culture–wise comes six months to a year later over there," Rae told Chicago magazine in February. "Because I was from L.A., they would ask me if we lived next door to movie stars. And they would all watch Baywatch. We would sit in a circle and watch Pamela Anderson. And then African Americans here would always say, ‘Oh you’re African? Do you have a lion?’ ”

Orji's sitcom pilot First Gen similarly explores contemporary portrayals of immigrant and first generation Africans living in America.

“An interesting shift is occurring where kids of immigrant parents are growing up and discovering America for themselves; not solely through the lens of their parents,” Orji told Shadow & Act. “This opens up a whole new world of opportunities. Until First Gen, we haven’t seen Africans portrayed in mainstream media as regular, everyday people. They’re usually warlords, cab drivers or fleeing genocide. The African immigrant story in America is so much richer than that."

Follow Issa Rae (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and Yvonne Orji (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for future updates on Insecure.

News Brief
Getty Images

Six Things History Will Remember Kenneth Kaunda For

News of Kenneth David Kaunda's passing, at age 97, has reverberated across the globe. Kaunda, affectionately known as KK, was Zambia's first President from 1964 to 1991.

Following Nelson Mandela's passing in December 2013, Kenneth Kaunda became Africa's last standing hero. Now with his passing on Thursday, June 17 — after being admitted to the Maina Soko Military Hospital in Lusaka earlier in the week — this signals the end of Africa's liberation history chapter.

It is tempting to make saints out of the departed. The former Zambian struggle hero did many great things. He was, after all, one of the giants of the continent's struggle against colonialism. Ultimately however, he was a human being. And as with all humans, he lived a complicated and colourful life.

Here are six facts you might not have known about him.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

The 7 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Olamide, Black Motion, Blxckie x Nasty C and more