Despite starring in a show titled Insecure, Yvonne Orji, who plays Issa Rae’s best friend Molly on the popular HBO show, feels comfortable sharing intimate details of her personal life with fans—including the fact that she’s a dedicated Christian who has openly vowed to remain a virgin until marriage.
“I'm open because why not?” she tells PEOPLE. “I get it. Once things are put out there, everyone can run with it and think of it what they want. But I'm grounded in who I am.”
Of her decision, she explains, "Before any of [the fame] happened, I sat down with myself and with God and thought about when I make it, how do you want me to represent you while I'm here?" the comedian, 33, explains. "Like okay, I know why I'm here. It's to make you proud."
Naturally, she fields a lot of questions about it from friends and fans. “People ask about it because they're curious or they may not understand,” Orji continues. “And how will they ever understand if I don't talk about it? I can inform your curios/ ity, as opposed to everyone being in the dark and just sort of creating their own narrative about it.”
As for her own narrative, Orji emigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria at age 6 and grew up in Maryland. “It was the traditional immigrant story of my parents wanting the best for us and bringing us here,” she says. But it wasn’t always easy.
“I was bullied because I have this thick Nigerian accent,” she recalls. “My mom would say, ‘We didn’t come to America for you to be popular.’ Which is fair, but as a kid, you're just like, it would be really nice to have this thing that everyone else has.”
After the star got her master’s degree in Public Heath from George Washington University, she says she “disappointed and confused her family” by declaring she wanted to move to New York to pursue stand up comedy.
“There was no signs of me wanting to do this,” Orji says. “I legitimately didn't even think entertainer was an option, because we didn't grow up with TV as a viable means of supporting yourself. [I told them] it would take me eight years to become a doctor, but give me eight years to make it in entertainment.’ And I'm happy to say, we did it in seven.”
“I will get people coming up to me and saying like, 'I'm Molly!' or 'We just love that we're seeing a black woman on TV who's a lawyer because I'm a lawyer, too!'” says Orji.
“It's giving people an alternative. So much is happening in our community, in our nation, and we get a chance to look on television and see a version of ourselves that we can actually relate to. I think that's what speaks to the heart of a lot of people. It’s super cool to be in the middle of that.”