Insecure's Yvonne Orji Knows You Like Molly's Outfits More Than You Like Molly
"If my character is bombing, then her clothes better be the bomb," she tells InStyle about playing the Internet's most-hated BFF.
If you’ve logged onto Twitter over the past few Sunday nights, you’ve likely seen complaints about Molly Carter from HBO’s Insecure. And that didn't change throughout the season finale, which ended on a Molly moment (don't worry, no spoilers here). Throughout the show’s fourth season, the character was one that people loved to hate — and Yvonne Orji, the actress who plays Molly, is well aware of her reputation.
Thankfully, Orji’s standup special, Momma, I Made It!, couldn’t have come at a better time. As Molly was earning the title of television's worst best friend, the comedian was prepared to give viewers insight into her real life, diving into her Nigerian background as well as her own love life. Almost immediately, the contrast between the two women becomes obvious, and for that, Orji is grateful.
“Listen, I'm hoping that after the comedy special, people can say that we're two different people, and they can see that I'm pretty likable,” she tells InStyle over the phone. However, while Orji does makes a point to separate herself from Molly, she still comes to her defense. “I think if they gave Molly a chance and didn't just jump at their first instinct, they would see that she’s also pretty dope. But, this has been a hard season on my girl.”
Orji describes Insecure fans as “passionate,” and that's definitely the case when talking about Molly’s outfits. Sure, the lawyer might be self-centered or harsh at times, but her monochromatic combinations and even her lingerie are enviable. That redeemable quality is something that Orji thought about prior to filming Momma, I Made It!.
“If my jokes bombed, my outfit better be the bomb,” she says with a laugh, referring to the asymmetrical, beaded Laurence Basse blazer, shorts, and thigh-high boots she wears onstage — all of which are most definitely 'the bomb.' “And, if my character is bombing, then her clothes better be the bomb. Everyone’s like, ‘Say what you want about Molly, she may be trash, but her outfits are the bomb.’ She’s not trash, but I think there's at least a silver lining.”
Orji says that she and Molly have slightly different senses of style. The actress prefers more structured pieces and enjoys being casual, but at the same time, she has picked up a few tricks from starring in the show.
“Molly has shown me how to be more of a lady because I'm very much a tomboy. I like jackets, jeans; Molly has probably worn jeans twice — she’s not a jean girl. I'm very comfortable-chic. I'm like, ‘How can I be comfortable and still look cute?’ And Molly is like, ‘No, we only always ever wear heels. You can break your feet, it's fine.’”
Orji admits that stepping out of her comfort zone hasn't been easy, but credits Insecure’s costume designer, Shiona Turini, for her brilliant choices and frequent persuading. Since Molly gravitates toward color and prints, Orji is now more likely to incorporate the same things into her own wardrobe.
“That [leopard] swimsuit that I had on in episode seven when we went to Mexico — I’m not really big on animal print. But seeing that on me, I was like, ‘Ooh, this is just dancing off my skin tone.’" she says. "And, I do like a one-piece, and that was what I loved about the shape. I never would have picked up animal print, but I'm here for this.”
Of course, when it came to Momma, I Made It!, Orji took her outfit choice pretty seriously. The star went through multiple outfits, aiming to find something that both memorable and held meaning.
“Every Black comedian still looks at Eddie Murphy's red leather jumpsuit in Delirious as the thing — that is next level, you’ve got to pay homage to that,” she explains. “So, that's where the leather accents came from. I can have a kiss to the greats, but I can also have my own moment. And, maybe the same way comics look to Eddie, some little girl somewhere is like, ‘Yo, did you see Yvonne’s thigh-high boots? And shoulder pads, and a Game of Thrones, Khaleesi-style jacket with the shorts?” I want to have that moment, too. That was kind of the thinking that went behind it.”
It would also be a mistake not to mention Orji’s exclamation point earrings from Melody Ehsani, which truly pop against her all-black look.
“They're my favorite earrings because I think they make a statement without me ever having to open my mouth. It's like, ‘Yep, in case you were wondering if I was here, I'm here, loudly.’”
Unsurprisingly, Orji was nervous about releasing this special — especially since the timing of its June 6 release coincided with worldwide Black Lives Matter protests.
“With everything going on in the world, I was just like, 'Oh no — this might be the worst time for this to come out,'” she says. “It feels very off beat to be like, ‘Watch my special; I know Black people are being oppressed.’ Ugh — it’s so tone deaf.”
But, once the comedian saw the response from fans, she ultimately realized the opposite was true.
“It provided a moment of Black joy, and some levity through all the trauma that is just being unearthed, that we're now having a reckoning with. I was so grateful for the way people showed up for it and shared with me that they needed it. It was just like, ‘Thank you for doing this.’ And I'm like, ‘Thank you for watching it.’ And they're like, ‘No, no, no, no — thank you for giving me something to laugh about, because I just got back from protesting and seeing the injustice. I had a hard day, and it felt good to turn this on and just laugh.’ It showed me my purpose at work, in a way. My parents really wanted me to be a doctor, but here I am, healing through laughter. Not necessarily through a scalpel, but providing medicinal joy.”
Momma, I Made It! is out now, and available through HBO NOW, HBO GO, and HBO On Demand.