“Immigrant parents leave their country for one reason alone: bragging rights.”
That’s the bane and the blessing of every first generation American’s life—and the point where heads butt in a new family sitcom in development called First Gen. It’s a satirical coming of age story about a first generation Nigerian-American woman loosely based on the life of the show’s writer and star—would-be med student turned comedian, Yvonne Orji—and her very traditional, unintentionally hilarious parents.
Much like real life, Orji’s character Joanna’s dream of becoming a comedian is her parents’ worst nightmare.
"What will we tell our friends? 'Because you had a dream.' Who do you think you are? Martin Luther King?" says Joanna’s snarky mom, Agatha, in the pilot’s trailer.
“You’re Nigerian, I’m Japanese. Grey’s Anatomy is our American dream!” says her friend Amy.
In the vein of Black-ish, Fresh off the Boat and Jane the Virgin, First Gen is essentially an American story. “Even though on camera you're seeing a Nigerian family, I think what I really want people to see is these stories are universal. They're not unique to any one race or culture,” says Orji. Other fans of Orji’s characters often tell her, “That’s my mom up there—just a different accent.”
Orji collaborated with two other first generation Nigerian women (Chika Chukudebelu and Kay Oyegun) on the show, which she hopes to get picked up by a network. Watch this exclusive clip from the First Gen docu-series: