Well Intentioned: Yvonne Orji Is Advocating for Black Women’s Health—And Making Space for Her Own Growth Along the Way


“We are all in this together and no one should go through a diagnosis alone,” says Orji. “I like to look at it as a sisterhood—which is something we created with Uncovering TNBC and is apparent through the original docuseries we developed as part of it…Through open and honest conversations, the series aims to help educate Black women about their higher risk for developing TNBC than women of other racial/ethnic backgrounds and help to equip them to advocate for themselves in a biased system.”

Orji has found that she’s best situated to listen and help other women when she makes herself a priority. Below, the multi-hyphenate walks us through her approach to staying grounded as she helps other Black women put their health first.

1. Empower Others

There’s so many correlations between stress and health issues, stress and weight, stress and mental anxiety. And Black women, we know stress. We know it very well. We’re under it when we wake up, we’re under it when we go to sleep.

When I found out that Merck was raising awareness about triple-negative breast cancer and that it actually affects the African American female population more severely than any other other, I wanted to do something. So I’m using my public health degree and platform to educate Black women about their personal risk for developing TNBC through this program. Knowledge is power.

2. Be Proactive With Your Health

It’s so interesting how the health system is set up in America, where there are age markers for when you should get screened. But we know that there are so many outliers. Black women, we know our bodies, we know when there are changes. And so even if it’s a marker that you haven’t reached, you can still push forward and be like, ‘I think I should still get whatever the screening is,’ or ‘I think I should get whatever the test is, just to rule it out.’ I think that option should be readily available for more people. I commit to my own check-ups and screenings so that others will be influenced to be proactive about their health and so we can all receive consistent and high-quality care, regardless of health insurance or demographics.

3. Press Pause

You know, we talk about being a strong Black woman—it’s also empowering to be the settled Black woman, the at peace Black woman, the still Black woman. One of the things I’m saying goodbye to in 2021 is the hustle and grind. I want to grant myself time to rest and let abundance find its way to me. I’m grateful to have had so many projects this past year, but it was also nonstop: I published my book Bamboozled by Jesus, filmed the last season of Insecure, and Vacation Friends.

Baths have been really important in helping me wind down. You know, Epsom salt baths, just put a little bit of them Dr Teal’s crystals in there. I also enjoy Lush products. I need to give myself some time to restore and replenish so I can continue chasing serenity, contentment, and rejuvenation while freeing myself from things that do not serve me.

4. Ask for Help

For so many Black women, we’re not afforded that luxury to feel secure, knowing that we’ll be taken care of if we just let go, if we relinquish control. I’m learning to ask for help when I need it. I’m a recovering perfectionist and I still need to remind myself that it’s okay to delegate and lean on people I trust so I can have more time for myself.

5. Create Space to Grow

I want to continue to grow into a better version of myself. And I have some tools I use for that. On my phone, I have the Insight Timer and the Chopra app. And I wake up to my morning playlist. It’s called My Mantra and has everything from Alicia Keys and Kelly Clarkson to Hezekiah Walker and India Arie—all affirming music. And I sit for at least five to 10 minutes, just looking at the vision board I created at the beginning of the year. It’s been a joy to go back to it and be like, oh, you know what, subconsciously you worked on that and I see your growth in this area.

Therapy is also huge for me. I recognize the growth that I personally have felt this year, just being able to be like, Okay, we got to deal with some stuff. Like, in the beginning of the year, I remember I had such a bad relationship with the word femininity. Growing up with strong women around me, femininity felt like a slap in the face. I didn’t know that, no, this is who I am created to be. It is good to be soft and still.

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