We had the good fortune of connecting with Jorja Hudson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jorja, what do you attribute your success to?
I recently saw a quote on Pinterest (a highly regarded platform) that said:
“the thing you are most afraid to write. write that. – advice to young writers”
I’ve struggled with mental health my whole life, save for my first year or two on this planet, but that doesn’t count because I was on autopilot and don’t remember it. I’ve also used comedy as a coping mechanism for that and it set me on a career path where all I’ve wanted to do is make people laugh.
They always say ‘find your voice, find your voice’ – that’s what will make your work stand out in writing submissions, on stage, to prospective people who can hire you. But what does that mean?
I spent my 20s doing comedy in New York – sketch, improv, stand-up, videos, web series, pilot scripts, you name it. I’m a perfectionist, so everything had to be polished, well-researched and have as high a production value as I could muster as a twentysomething comedian in Brooklyn.
But it wasn’t until the *magic of quarantine* when my work really started gaining traction and going viral. It happened when I started making TikToks (another highly esteemed destination) about my mental health and anxiety, and sharing my struggles in the shape of lighthearted and comedic micro-content that seemed to be helping people. It was vulnerable. It was uncomfortable. But, it was honest. With every video about therapy or my childhood where I fully exposed myself (metaphorically) there came a nauseating fear that the wrong person would see it, or that I’d be criticized. Yet it was resonating with more people than I could have imagined.
Which brings me back to the quote. I don’t think that quote means you have to create something that is outside your comfort zone, but I think it suggests that you dig into the depths of your mind and really identify what makes you unique, even if you don’t have a tumultuous backstory or insane upbringing. Perhaps if it makes you feel doubt, write it. If it makes you feel nervous, explore it. I’m still growing into this new, vulnerable version of my creative self but all signs point to this being what propels my success.
It’s hard, and it can feel like a LOT, but I encourage you to go deeper into your mind and consider telling THOSE stories. You could be surprised with the reaction it gets.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Sitting alone in my apartment on a Friday afternoon makes me question “where even am I today professionally, what am I doing with my life?” but my therapist would say not to disregard my achievements so I’ll do this for her.
Getting to a place in my career where I have the luxury of sitting around anxiously on a Friday afternoon has been full of challenges. I came to the US from England as an exchange student in university, and it’s wild that this country became home. I somehow survived a decade in New York living freelance paycheck to freelance paycheck, primarily so I could have the freedom to create, and secondly to reject the 9-5 lifestyle (read: I was barely able to survive in that environment). I moved to Los Angeles two weeks before, you guessed, it a global quarantine. I somehow did all of this with a raging anxiety disorder that went untreated for most of my life because nobody talked about mental health when I was younger.
How? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe it was the belief that we are special snowflakes who can achieve anything we set our minds to, a mindset we millennials were #blessed with. Maybe it was the years of therapy, medication, panic attacks, and the friendships that were there through it all. Maybe it was accepting that life is just hard in different ways for everyone, and we all have a seat on the strugglebus assigned specifically to us. I hope that the struggles I’ve been through can help be a part of someone else’s survival guide, and ultimately I just have to remind myself that hey, without conflict there is no plot 😉
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Currently, my favorite spots in Los Angeles include my living room, my bedroom and my friend’s outside area. Did I mention I moved here just before covid?
But seriously, I’d encourage a friend to see the vast environmental diversity that is LA, and California in general. We have the mountains, the lakes, the forests, the beaches, the deserts, the city all within driving range – and I’d encourage them to rent a car and take me with them so I finally get to see it all.
I’d encourage tourists to check out the east side – Los Feliz, Silverlake, Echo Park – and all the art, history and nightlife that makes this area unique. Highlights include Black Cat, 4100 Bar, Bar Bandini, Donut Friend, Sage, Dinosaur Coffee, Honeybee Burger, Cena Vegan, Griffith Park, and the CVS on Glendale (I don’t know, I’ve somehow just spent a lot of time there).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Comedy can’t exist in a vacuum and the entertainment industry is a hugely collaborative one. I’m eternally grateful to the writing and producing partners I’ve had along the way – Ethan David, Kelly Stier, Brittany Tomkin, Claire Matson and many others. We’ve written jokes in New York falafel shops late into the night, run around the city getting prepped for last minute shoots, and made each other laugh through the all the pain of 2020, and our 20s. Shoutout to anyone who has donated their time to be an extra in my videos, shoutout to the endlessly inspiring audience that has decided to follow me on social media, and shoutout to the Upright Citizens Brigade theatre where I met everyone I now collaborate with. I don’t think it exists anymore in the same form as when I studied there, but if you can find a community and you can find your people, you’ll be golden.