Today we’d like to introduce you to Jorja Hudson.
Hi Jorja, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I’m originally from London, England and one of my defining childhood memories was growing up watching American TV– FRIENDS, The Simpsons, Frasier, etc. This, paired with my anxiety and preference of living in imagined worlds rather than the real world, made me want to become a writer. The anxiety fueled the comedy. We only had five channels on UK broadcast TV so in my head, America was where all the stories were (sorry, BBC).
In university, I traveled to the US for the first time as an exchange student, motivated by romanticized ideas of what life here would be like, and no awareness of how much I would miss having healthcare.
I majored in film and screenwriting, then did sketch comedy and improv at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York for around 7 years, and eventually moved to Los Angeles where all I do is write, create content, and fall into frequent existential spirals.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not! And it’s still not a smooth road — the road-building department of life is severely underfunded, can someone put this on the ballot please?
Living in New York in my twenties, my challenges were far from unique: working five jobs at once, living paycheck to paycheck, not having a sink in the bathroom (true, in one apartment), and so on. But I was also navigating being on my own in a new country, coming to terms with my severe anxiety disorder, and not really having a safety net to fall into if it all came crumbling down.
The entertainment industry, and a creativity-focused career in general, is so uncertain, and most days I still feel like I’m blindly walking a path, just hoping for the best. It’s a lot of faith, determination, and knowing you just couldn’t settle for a 9-5 job (no offense 9-5ers. I wish I could thrive in that sort of routine and not whatever chaos I seem to have chosen).
In a lot of ways, our specific challenges are the experiences that build our character and inform the kind of stories we tell, the lens through which we see the world. It doesn’t mean you have to use your background, culture, or your trauma to base stories on, but it can be. Using anxiety as a topic to explore comedically is the thing that helped me find my voice, and I can only hope to continue monetizing my mental struggles in the future, rather than them controlling me. (I know — mental illness is a serious subject. I’m being lighthearted because I literally cannot handle facing reality these days, can you?)
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
These days you might know me from TikTok/Instagram where I started creating comedic content exploring anxiety and mental health during the pandemic (@jorjanxiously).
I wrote and directed the short film ‘Withdrawals’, a dark comedy about four friends who impulsively quit their antidepressants together, which screened at Austin Comedy Film Fest, LA Femme International Film Fest, Cinema Femme, and more in 2020. It can be seen at vimeo.com/jorjahudson.
I co-wrote and co-starred (alongside Brittany Tomkin) in ‘Myrtle & Willoughby’, a comedy webseries about two young female detectives working in Brooklyn’s ‘millennial crimes unit’. It won the pitch competition at Just For Laughs in 2018 and screened at many other film festivals. It can be streamed on Vimeo or at www.myrtleandwilloughby.com
I also created Low Budget Sketch Show, starring a slew of talented UCB comedians, which was my first digital sketch series project circa 2014, and still lives on the internet at www.lowbudgetsketchshow.com.
You’re less likely to know me for my recent original comedy pilot scripts since they live on my google drive, but after a decade of working in digital comedy, I’m eager to get into a TV writers room so I can finally try and inspire the next generation of anxious children who find comfort in the episodic form like I did.
We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
At the start of the pandemic, I was impossibly joyful. Wait, before you take that out of context and cancel me, I actually learned that a lot of people with anxiety felt the same way. The logic being — people with anxiety feel an overwhelming sense of dread worry and fear all the time — and when the entire world suddenly felt that way, it was the first time ever that many of us didn’t feel ‘different’. We really were in it together, as the commercials foretold.
The boredom of quarantine is when I started experimenting with TikTok and found my anxious comedian voice. I learned so many terms, traits of various disorders, and ways of viewing neurodiversity that greatly informed how I should write about mental health. I also learned that no matter how deranged or terrifying a thought I had was, someone else in the world had at some point thought the same thought. As I shared videos of my inner anxious thoughts and experiences, hundreds of thousands of ‘same!’s echoed back to me, and while bittersweet, it was incredibly comforting to know how many of us felt the same.
Project Healthy Minds did a survey called “The State of Mental Health” about how Covid-19 affected Americans, and it says that 96% of 18-34-year-olds reported experiencing ‘at least some anxiety’. It’s so important that we, as a society, are finally talking about and tackling the mental health crisis. Talking about our mental struggles helps to chip away at the stigma that has kept many of us feeling so alone and not asking for help.
Phew, that was a very serious paragraph. I better go slip on a banana peel to re-balance myself
- Website: http://www.jorjahudsonportfolio.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jorjanxiously/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/jorjanxiously
- Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@jorjanxiously?lang=en