Faith & Understanding: Yvonne Orji Looks Back On Her Life Lessons
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Do Long top and skirt, dolong.com.vn; Ginissima shoes, ginissima.com. Photographed by Obidi Nzeribe
Yvonne Orji—producer, actress/comedian and now author of Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams—hopes to take her readers on 25 lessons she gained through her source: the Bible. Her faith and God's vision for her life helped her become who she is today as a first-generation Nigerian. Orji is no stranger to hard work while receiving pushback from her parents on her career choices. After graduating with her bachelor's and master's degrees in public health, her healing others started with philanthropy by working in Liberia post-conflict.
Below, Orji discusses more about her faith.
What would you like people to learn after reading Bamboozled by Jesus?
It was pivotal for this to come out into a paperback version of the 2021 release. The book is about when your life plans get flipped upside down. The idea behind it is God can’t give us all the steps to the vision he placed in us. If he had given me all of the steps, we would never go. The first step of obedience is going ahead; you risk missing that opportunity a day short if you stop.
What led you to write it?
I feel like we were all being bamboozled by somebody. Some people will say it’s Jesus; others may say it was COVID. It is that pivotal moment when your life feels upside down. For me, God came in and [told me], ‘This doctor that your parents want you to become... I will have you be the laughter of good medicine.’ My momma was not trying to hear that! The book prepares for the roads less taken and to continue to push while having no sight of it happening.
Does this book help bring someone closer to faith?
People have faith in many different things; my belief is anchored in my Christian faith. I drop DMX references in all my books. If you don’t subscribe to Jesus, this book is incredible for everyone. It’s humorous. I am nobody’s pastor; I’m just a Black girl who loves Jesus and who got sold on a dream that felt like a nightmare. I want to give practical, tangible practices to help you reach the next level. If you are rooted in faith, there is a palace for you, or if you don’t rock with Jesus, there is something you can learn from.
Banana Republic dress, bananarepublic.gap.com; Elisheva & Constance earrings and bracelet, elisheva-constance.com; Jessica Rich shoes, jessicarich.com. Stylist: Jennifer Udechukwu Hair: Mary Daniels Makeup: Joanna Simkin Photographed by Obidi Nzeribe
What was the start of your philanthropy work?
After completing my master’s in public health, I worked with an organization in Liberia and educated them on dispelling the stigma behind HIV/AIDS. I’m huge on opportunities to help others live their best lives, even in extreme circumstances. Throughout my career, I have been an ambassador for those innocent in prison, helping them receive legal resources to help them in their case.
Coming from traditional Nigerian roots, what was it like telling your parents you were shifting your career choice to entertainment?
I knew the road everyone took. I could see everyone I went to school with was an engineer, doctor and nurse, and they married at 27. I didn’t know what this looked like, and I had to believe that God made me different as someone who came out of my mother’s womb holding the IUD. I was willing to risk the ridicule and timeline for what I didn’t know. It felt like a setback for immigrant parents who had already attempted the unknown to come to this country. I remember telling my parents it would take me eight years to make it as a doctor and give me the same time to make it as an entertainer. By God’s grace, I could make it in seven years, but it was a challenging relationship with my parents in those eight years.
Would you say your experience with your parents led you to help others?
I always knew I wanted to be in the service of helping others. Even now, as an entertainer, I’m still in service, assisting fellow performers, providing financial, mental and emotional support to anyone by letting them know you can do this and make it while keeping your integrity and character.