Emmys: 'Insecure' Star Yvonne Orji on First Nom: "All of That Molly Hate This Season Actually Paid Off"

The actress broke down how she weathered the Molly vs. Issa battle this season and her Emmy morning celebration call with Issa Rae.
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Yvonne Orji

Among Insecure's eight Emmy nominations on Tuesday was a first-time nod for Yvonne Orji, recognized in the supporting comedy actress category for her role as Molly Carter. This season of the HBO hit, which also landed noms for star Issa Rae and for best comedy series, saw best friends Molly and Issa in a fallout where the internet largely sided with Issa, before the two seemed to finally work it out in the season four finale. 

Orji spoke to The Hollywood Reporter after her nomination about weathering the Molly criticism, calling Rae after the Emmy announcement and committing to not letting the pandemic derail her award show red carpet plans. 

Where were you when you heard about the nomination?

A couple of my co-stars and I were texting, so of course when Issa got nominated it was a series of just yelling voice notes like, "You did it!" And then when the show got nominated, we're like, "Yeah!" just a whole bunch of yelling and then it went out and I was like oh, OK. And then [her rep] Sam called and was like, "Congratulations," and I was like, "I know. This is so big for us. This is great for us." And she was like, "No, for you," and I was like, "I know, just to be part of the ensemble is great" and she was like, "Yvonne, you got nominated!" and I was like, "You saw my name?!" So it was like, it was a comedy moment in a comedy moment. And then I had to see for myself — like I took her word for it, but I was like, "I want to see my name," so then I went online and I saw and then there were more screams. I don't know what happened, I just blacked out.

How does it feel having Issa and the show nominated as well?

Oh, man, it feels great. Issa called me and I kept saying, "This is your vision, your vision did this." And then I thanked her, I was like, "Thank you for seeing something in me like five years ago to get to this moment." And she was like, "Girl, you're not about to cry," and I was like, "I am about to cry!" And then I was like, "I guess all of that Molly hate this season actually paid off."

How is it being recognized specifically for this part of Molly's story?

I think it's not an isolated part. I feel like in order for Molly to get here it took all four seasons — it took the buildup, you had to see every side of her. If this was Molly season one, I think people would just be like, "She's such a villain, she's a horrible person," but she's not and I think having the balance of seasons one through three and then now getting to see a different side of her in season four — I think the writers, I think Prentice [Penny], our showrunner, Issa, everybody really told a story that so many people experience with their friend groups in their own lives that I think it related to a lot of people. I feel like this is a collective celebration because it's like yes, real life was portrayed on TV and we all got to see it and we all got to experience it and we all had to feel it in the way that we felt it in the past and be triggered. 

We don’t know what the Emmy show will look like this year, other than Kimmel is hosting. If you have to film your Emmy appearance from your home, what room are you going to pick and why?

I would say probably my living room but now I don't know, now I may have to do like a whole new room and have it special for the Emmys. I'm gonna call a decorator and be like, "We need it done by September, get this whole thing done!"

What's the best part of not having to worry about the red carpet?

I'm actually sad about that because this is the year that you want to stunt, when you get your first nomination you want to be like, "This is my best Emmy nominated outfit, you all see it?" So it's a little sad that we don't get that moment — again, I may have a red carpet, I'm Nigerian, we are queens and kings of extra-dom. So it's possible that I may get dressed up and have a red carpet brought in and that could be what I do. No one can be mad at that. I might have a whole glam squad get me ready and take pictures in my home. It's kind of sad but at the same time kind of popping.