At 17, everything changed for Yvonne Orji, star of HBO’s “Insecure.” In a single night, she says she was “bamboozled by Jesus.”
When Orji was a freshman, a college friend invited Orji to a Bible-study.
“I wasn’t very familiar with born-again religion or ‘being saved,’ but when I listened to the minister that night—a beautiful, young med student—talk about how much she loves God, to the point that she kept calling him 'Daddy,' something changed,” Orji, 33, told People Magazine.
Up until that point, Orji had never seen anyone talk about God so personally. At first, she said she was a little bit taken back, but it struck a chord with her.
“That experience opened up something inside me. It felt very authentic and intimate,” revealed Orji.
That night changed her life in a profound way, and she decided that she would be a virgin until marriage.
“That same minister shared that she was waiting until marriage to have sex, and again I thought, ‘I don’t understand—she’s beautiful.’ In my mind I was like, ‘Girl, you can get some! Why would you do this to yourself?’”
But that young woman had a joy that Orji wanted, and she realized she was willing to sacrifice sex for the gifts God would give her in return.
“I thought, ‘Wow, I want to be at a point where I feel so compelled to sacrifice something for the greater good of God.’”
She says God got her at 17, and He “sold her” on virginity.
That night exposed Orji to “the good,” and she wanted to experience all the good. Instead of having a one-time experience with God and falling away after the religious high waned, that night started a Christian journey.
“Over the years, my relationship with God has changed my life for the better—it’s grown me up, given me a sense of purpose, and grounded me in my identity,” added Orji.
However, being a Christian—and a virgin–in Hollywood hasn’t been easy. She had to decide what roles she couldn’t take, and what she was willing to do on screen. She says a lot of people just focus on getting their big break and not what they’ll have to do when they get there, but Orji knew she couldn't do that.
“I thought, ‘What does that look like for you? What will you compromise on? What will you not compromise on?’…You can’t prepare in the battle. You have to be battle-tested and ready.”
Part of that meant deciding she wouldn’t do any on-screen nudity. Orji mentions that her character on “Insecure” is who she would have been if God hadn’t gotten to her at 17, and part of that means promiscuity written into the script.
“Thankfully, I was able to have conversations with the producers and the directors and figure out a way to achieve their vision while maintaining my personal brand. At the end of the day, I know I gotta sell it, but I also gotta look my momma in the face!”
Orji concluded her interview by acknowledging that any success she’s had is all thanks to God.
“If you see me and enjoy anything about me, it’s directly because of the God that’s in me…I want to live in such a way that could compel someone to say, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Orji makes an excellent point. As Christians, we need to live in a way that makes others want what we have—the joy, the love, and the kindness that can only come from a relationship with Jesus. Watch Orji talk about her wait, and why it is worth it.
If you've enjoyed reading about Orji's faith, you might want to read about other Christian celebrities. The new Disney Princess Jasmine, Naomi Scott, shared her Christian faith in an article here, and Jim Carrey shared his in an article here.