Gina Yashere on discovering success in comedy and turning her greatest critic — her mother — into her greatest fan

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Gina Yashere all the time felt she did not fairly belong. 

The daughter of Nigerian dad and mom, Yashere was born and raised in London by her mom after her father returned to Africa. 

“I was very British. At school, out and about — British,” Yashere instructed CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers. “But when I’d come home, it was very Nigerian. We wore Nigerian clothes. We ate jollof rice and pounded yam and okra stew. So I had that dichotomy.” 

She’s mined that dichotomy for laughs, joking about her upbringing in her standup comedy. 

“I imagine my mother in Nigeria with all her maps spread out before her. ‘Where shall I go, where shall I go? You know what? I am fed up with the sunshine. I want to go somewhere with a lot of drizzle, and subtle racism. Yes, that’s what I want,'” she joked throughout a present on the Gotham Comedy Club in New York. 

Yashere developed a eager humorousness at a younger age, however a comedy profession wasn’t one thing she dared to contemplate. She described a childhood beneath the strict management of her mom. 

“I’d come home and I’d be, like, ‘Mom, I wanna go and hang out with my friends. I wanna go to parties.’ And my mom was, like, ‘Parties? You’re not going to party. You know you can go to parties when you become a doctor,'” Yashere mentioned. 

Yashere grew to become an engineer and labored for a time fixing elevators. She moved out of her residence, however once more felt misplaced. She confronted racism at work and was discovering her attraction to ladies. When comedy got here calling, she determined it was time for a life change. 

“My mom was, like, ‘So you want to be a comedian, a clown? You are leavin’ engineering to become a clown?'” she mentioned. “And then that was 25 years ago. And I never went back.” 

Yashere launched a profitable comedy profession working the levels within the United Kingdom. It wasn’t till she moved to the U.S. that she felt she had lastly made it. 

“America is the holy grail for anybody in the entertainment industry,” she mentioned. 

Her greatest break got here when Chuck Lorre — the creator of hit comedies like “Two and Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Mike and Molly” — instructed her he needed to create a present with a Nigerian girl as a protagonist. That present is the CBS comedy “Bob Hearts Abishola.” 

“I was, like, ‘OK, if I’m gonna come onboard, these are my rules: I want it to be authentic. I want it to be real. I want to cast as many Nigerian actors as possible to make this thing.’ I want Nigerians to be able to watch it and feel proud of it and not feel stereotyped,” she mentioned. 

She’s not solely a co-creator and producer, but additionally a co-star. It’s a task that has helped Yashere really feel like perhaps she lastly suits in — that being Black and British, that being homosexual, that being of Nigerian descent is all precisely what she is meant to be. It’s additionally one thing that has made her hardest critic proud. 

“My mum only comes out for the big shows. And in fact, my mum is here tonight! Where is my mum?” Yashere mentioned at a present on the Apollo. 

Yashere mentioned her mom “doesn’t mind at all” being the goal of a few of her jokes. 

“She can feel proud when she sees me do my stuff about her. So yeah, she loves it ’cause she calls me up and goes, ‘Well, I need 20% commission of your earnings. You’re always talkin’ about me. So where is my commission?'” Yashere mentioned. “She’s going around telling her friends now, ‘Oh yes, my daughter. I always knew she was going to be a clown.'”

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