Insecure’s Yvonne Orji: TV bad girl, IRL good girl

A man who interviews celebrities for a living sits across from Yvonne Orji and, with a straight face, asks if she can “still get wet.” Adult virginity is such a foreign concept to radio host DJ Envy, one-third of Power 105.1’s popular morning show The Breakfast Club, that he doesn’t know vaginal lubrication has nothing to do with whether or not a woman has ever had sex.

The Big V is not a subject the Insecure star is afraid to broach. It’s actually served as fodder for her stand up and motivated Rock Your Stance, the company she founded in 2008 which sells neon tees and tanks that read: “Keepin’ It Locked ‘Til I Get That Rock.” Because she is happy to “educate” people about being a 33-year-old virgin (and has the patience of Job), she laughs at DJ Envy’s query before politely schooling him.

Orji transforms into the sexier version of herself as Molly, the sexually liberated best friend of Issa (Issa Rae) on HBO’s breakout comedy. Some find it odd that a woman who’s never had sex portrays it so well on screen. But it’s called acting for a reason. “In my mind I’m like, remember that time when we were all virgins before your first time?” she says from her temporary digs in Lagos, Nigeria. “Were you normal? Were you regular? Cool. Copy.” Orji is far too polite and goofy to ever hint at being tired of the virginity question, but I ask her how many times she’s been asked and she giggles loudly.

Orji consulted with God before deciding if Molly was the right fit for her considering her devoutly Christian beliefs. She doesn’t curse, for example. Yet the first-generation Nigerian-American actress felt Molly was a character she knew, despite the two having at least the one major difference. One heart-to-heart with God and five auditions later, she decided to freely pour her talents into Molly. Transparent conversations with wardrobe and directors about what her sex scenes would look like happened early on so that everyone was on the same page. “I watched my sex scenes and I’m like, ‘OK. I can stand by that,’” she says before noting that a scene like the season one finale where Lawrence (Jay Ellis) and Tasha (Dominique Perry) are getting it in doggy style would’ve been an automatic no.

It’s a week before Christmas the first time we chat. Every couple of minutes Orji is cackling wildly, grinning from ear to ear, causing us both to laugh loud enough to drown out the honking horns filling the air from the two continents separating us. Both represent the duality she’s navigated her entire life. Any assumptions that she’s a prude are dispelled quickly. Her buoyant spirit is infectious. Even when she talks about her conversations with God, she’s still laughing.

“I don’t look at God as some boring dude in the sky that tells me what to do all day,” she says. “I legitimately be like, ‘Yo, you know what G, that’s crazy how that happened. That’s dope. You know you the real MVP.’”

Orji went against the grain in pursuit of a career in entertainment. Born in Nigeria, raised in Maryland, her parents expected a return on investment on her education to be delivered in the form of an M.D. Two degrees later, her family thought medical school was still on the table until she returned to the States from Liberia. She’d quit her job in public health where she worked on HIV prevention.

Read more at GQ.