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Yvonne Orji Talks Christian Baecations, Dating While Traveling, And Luxury Hotel Dealbreakers Leave a comment


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When Yvonne Orji isn’t busy being an Emmy-nominated actress, comedy special aficionado, thriving animation voice actor and author (see her book Bamboozled By Jesus), she’s a jet-setting lover of adventure. But you can’t enjoy a good getaway without great accommodations, and Orji knows a thing or two about luxurious hotels.

She is one of the latest stars to be featured in Hotel.com’s content series Perfect 10. In it, they ask stars always on the go some conversation starters to uncover their hotel habits. Past guests include Evan Mock, Busy Phillips, and chef Kwame Onwuachi.

ESSENCE spoke to Orji about what she loves most about going on getaways from the health and wellness perspective, dating while traveling and how her hotel tastes have changed now that she’s a star. In addition to digging into that, we discussed her faith as it relates to baecations, her most recent projects, and what’s next for the former Insecure actress.

ESSENCE: What does travel do for your wellbeing?

Yvonne Orji: Everything. Oh my gosh. It resets me. I’m getting ready to travel in two days and I’m very excited. It’s that thing me and my friends always talk about. You can get so chained into the cycle and into the system. It’s like, “I gotta work, I gotta hustle, I gotta work.” And then the work takes off and you forget to enjoy the fruits of the work and you’re just in the cycle. 

So now, I don’t hit up my friends to be like, “You out here popping, you out here thriving!” I be like, “Are you resting? Have you taken a break?” I love that I’m that friend to be like, I know what the ‘gram is saying, and I know you a boss. All of that is facts. When is your next vacation scheduled? Because if the self-care ain’t kicking like it should, that’s not good. Yes, you can enjoy the success, but I feel like there’s a re-up, especially as people of color, that we don’t give ourselves. And I know that it’s a luxury to travel, but there’s different price points. I tell people all the time, you ain’t gotta go far. You can do a staycation. It’s just as good as going to somebody’s Miami. 

I love what you said about how we are in this kind of grind culture. It’s always “What’s next?” So how do you try to stay present when you’re taking time off from work?

I tell everybody that I’m gone, everybody that needs to know. I have my assistant block it off, so everyone is just like, “Come Friday, she’s not available.” I know my Thursday is probably gonna be gangster because everyone’s going to be trying to put in those last minute meetings before Friday. But it is that thing of if I don’t have work, I leave work at home. 

If I’m going away, I’ve just finished a project. If a project is coming up, I’m like, I don’t really need this. You can kind of gauge, because people will make everything feel like, “We need it tomorrow,” and it’s like, do you? And it’s like, “Well actually, yeah, no, we can wait a week.” Okay, great. Well then this week I’ll be gone.

So it’s all about maximizing and managing people’s expectations as well as your time. Sometimes it is that thing of I gotta weigh the pros and cons. So I’m like, I don’t wanna do X, Y, and Z. And then if my agents or someone comes, it’s like, “I know you’re on vacation, but,” then I look at it and it’s like, “I can do this one.” But then sometimes it’s like, “No, I’m so sorry. I’m unable.”

The blessing of Abraham is that I’m a frugal Nigerian and I save. I don’t ever wanna be so pressed [that] I can’t even enjoy this cause I gotta do that. I don’t really have any expensive habits except for taking these dang on trips. So lemme take these trips and enjoy them.

Tell me a bit about this opportunity with hotels.com.

It’s so fun because I get to share my love of travel and then my love of hotels that I have stayed at [during] different travels. Cause one thing about me, there was definitely an upper room experience season. There was a season of, shall we say, lack. And I didn’t travel that much, you know? And it was just because you are just trying to make it, you’re just on the grind. And then when the blessings of Abraham reigned upon your girl, it was like, okay, let’s go out into this great big world and see what I’ve been missing. So being able to share some of the hotels that I got introduced to on the journey as well as some new ones.

One thing about hotels.com is the different price points. You can go luxury and you can go, “All right, it’s four of us. We gonna split this this way and we gonna still have a good time.” And I love that because I feel like at any price point you should be able to go enjoy your life. And that’s not what I did. I’m sad that I felt like my life had kind of a chokehold and just a pause until I felt like, okay, now I can breathe and I can make it. But it’s like, there were so many experiences that I missed out on.

How has your taste in hotels and travel changed from pre to post-stardom? 

I mean, I love a luxury travel. It’s so funny because like I said, I’m still a budget-conscious Nigerian. I remember I was doing a tour and I went to a hotel that shall not be named and they put me basically by the rooftop, but they didn’t tell me the rooftop was a club until 2:00 a.m. I remember being like, “This is not the will of God for my life.” And I was like, I gotta move and it was like 6:00 p.m. and I was like, “All I wanna do is sleep.” I traveled across the country, cross-country, everything is sold out this weekend.

And then I got a travel agent to find me a place. But the price, I was like, “This is so much.” And I remember a friend of mine, and I thank God for her, she said, “Hey Yvonne, you have worked too hard. So now let us just assume the position that this price point is where you’re gonna be starting.” And I was like, what? Because the poverty mentality was like, nah, nah, nah. [But] she was like, “No, you need to be able to stay places that are comfortable.”

I was just like, huh. You right. You not wrong. And it was just shifting a mindset to being like, this is where we are now. I have been introduced to luxury travel and it has opened my eyes. Now I mostly do suites that have a separate living room. I now really like hotel rooms that have like a private pool suite or a private pool villa. Just because sometimes you don’t wanna be in the mix with everybody all at once, but you still wanna be in the water and you still wanna be able to enjoy the sunset. I can be as secluded as I want and then if I wanna make vacation friends, I can go out and be with the larger population.

Tell me two of your hotel deal breakers.

I definitely need a soaking tub. I stay with Epsom salt, like little baggies. So I need to be able to soak in case it was a long flight. I just need to ease my back into the fun that we are about to be having. Then sometimes you just wanna be able to just soak and put some jazz in the background, light a candle, because I always bring a candle because I like good scents. 

But I just like to be able to shut the lights off in my own room. Especially if I’m solo traveling and just get centered and be one with myself and enjoy a nice soak.

You also have to have a good robe and a good hotel slipper. I like the soft fuzzy robes. I don’t like that PK waffle thing. A soft joint, I wanna feel like a good bear hug. 

I love how honest and open you are about your journey with God and about you saving yourself till marriage. I want to know your take on baecations from a Christian point of view.

This isn’t for everybody and everybody has their own take. So don’t be like, “Yvonne said,” because you don’t have my discipline level. If you already know it could go down any second then don’t listen to me. But I feel like if everyone has an understanding and a boundary, then take a vacation. There’s lots to do. But if you are like, “We need to have a boundary because not only is it going to be the sun and the beach and the vibes, I don’t trust myself,” then yes, please get separate rooms and meet at the lounge.

I think you learn a lot about somebody when you vacation with them. I don’t think the honeymoon should be the first time y’all go on a trip and then you be like, “This fool is crazy!” Whatever your boundaries, only you know how close to the stove you’re trying to get. But I’m grown and my boundaries have been my boundaries for a long time. I’ve taken baecations and been fine.

My next question is about dating while you’re traveling. What do you think about that? Like just going on vacation and then just meeting people? 

You know what? I did one time and it did not work out because halfway through they were like, “I know who you are,” and I was like, well this date is over.

I was so far away. I was like, “I don’t even think they get American internet over here.” They got all the restrictions. I was like, this should be fine. And then it just got weird. And then I had two guy friends wait for me at a table because I was like, if anything goes weird, you all [are] my backup. Then I had one of them bring one of their girlfriends and so I asked the guy to bring a friend so I was like, we gonna make this a double date cause I don’t want no crazies. It was chill, it was cool vibes. And then when he was like, “I know your little secret” or whatever the heck he said, I was like, “I’m sorry, what?” I’ve never gotten up from a table so quick and then never came back. 

Tell me about what you’re working on now. I love how versatile you are, how you can go from a TV series like Insecure to sci-fi and more. 

Man, there’s so many things that I’ve worked on that are coming out. Juneteenth weekend, we have The Blackening coming out, Vacation Friends 2 is coming out this year. The paperback version of my book, Bamboozled By Jesus, is coming out in September. I just did My Dad The Bounty Hunter, which I love. It’s on Netflix. The whole family can get into it and Season 2 is coming and y’all gonna be really excited. 

So those are all the things I am developing and sometimes developing is like cooking something in a Crockpot. You’re just going to leave that overnight. We just want the meat to fall off the bone. So I’m developing a couple of things and so it is that slow burn. But I’m so excited for the projects that hopefully when they go, y’all will know.

Lastly, can you give me one word to describe this season of your life?

Free. Free to be me. Free to enjoy all of the things. Free to grow. Free to be still. Free.


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