The actress and comedian is the host of Prime Video’s upcoming annual special Yearly Departed in which a lineup of women comedians and comedic actresses bid farewell to the past 12 months and the foolishness that transpired therein. And while Orji’s opening monologue is filled with sarcasm, hyperbole, and too many relatable sentiments regarding 2021 to count, she also shares some real truths, particularly about changing her relationship to work and success.
When asked what the past year has been like for her personally and professionally, Orji tells ESSENCE, “It’s been a mixed bag because I’ve been in my bag. It’s like the blessing of Abraham, I’ve been working and things are coming. One of the things I gave up is hustle and grind and I picked up ease and flow, but it’s taken me 11 months to really get into the stride of ease and flow. When you’re changing and you’re becoming new, it’s a lot of missteps, it’s a lot of uncertainty. It doesn’t feel sexy. It feels real uncomfortable, but then you lean into it and you’re like, ohh, I see the blessing.“
As wonderful as the thought of “ease and flow” is, putting that type of work ethic into practice is certainly easier than it sounds. That’s particularly true for Orji coming off of the final season of Insecure and stepping into this special alongside Jane Fonda, Chelsea Peretti, Meg Stalter, Dulcé Sloan, Aparna Nancherla, and X Mayo.
“It really is a mindset shift. It’s a perspective change,” Orji explains. “It’s a reprogramming because the thing that gets you success, you’re like, this is the thing that I will always use then. This is my toolbox. And it’s like, no, no, no. This got you to this level of success. Now to get to that level of success, you’ve got to do different things. And it seems counterintuitive that sometimes the thing you have to do is rest or chill out a little bit more.”
Orji, after noting an important caveat of her advice — “This isn’t for the people that procrastinate already and ain’t met a hustle or a grind ever in their life” — adds that one should always be mixing up their professional toolbox.
“It is hard to fight with new weapons when the old ones got you to victory. But it doesn’t mean you won’t use the old ones again,” she says. “It just means that you have to have a different relationship with them.”
Watch our full interview with Yvonne Orji in the video above. Yearly Departed premieres on Prime Video December 23.