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Uzo Aduba on ‘Crazy Eyes’ and ‘Orange Is The New Black’

Uzo Aduba on ‘Crazy Eyes’ and ‘Orange Is The New Black’

Uzo Aduba, star of Orange is the New Black, sat down with MiNDFOOD to discuss how quitting acting led to her biggest role.

Uzo Aduba on ‘Crazy Eyes’ and ‘Orange Is The New Black’

Best known as Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren on the TV series Orange is the New Black, Aduba is racking up the awards for her portrayal as this troubled inmate who is fast becoming one of the most popular characters on the series. The stunning Bostonian is primarily a theatre actress, with her first TV appearance as recent as 2012 playing a nurse in the TV drama, Blue Bloods. She talks to MiNDFOOD about her big break which has changed her life.

SO NOW YOU’VE BEEN ON THIS JOURNEY A LITTLE WHILE, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK HAS CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

Wow. Oh my gosh – how much time do we have? It’s changed my life really quite remarkably I would say where I have to give my greatest appreciation and gratitude to the fact that its kept me acting. The day that I got this job on Orange happens to also be the same day that I had quit acting (laughs). True story. That is not a made up story at all. I had been pursuing work in film and television. I’d been doing work in the theatre before that and my manager said, ‘I think you should try auditioning for film and television.’ I had previously met with a lot of, ‘No, no, thanks but no thanks.’ So I was going to quit. I had quit. I had quit that day and I was really at peace with it. I got home and about 45 minutes later I found out that I’d gotten this job on ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. That changed my life because it just reminded me that to keep going. It changed my faith.

AS YOUR CHARACTER HAS EVOLVED AND YOU’VE HAD A CHANCE TO GROW WITH IT, WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU? AND WHAT SURPRISES YOU ABOUT THE LATEST SEASON?

With regards to my character, Suzanne has been an idol worshiper over seasons past. We’ve watched her in one, we watched her idolise Piper and that character and really attach herself to her. In Season 2 we watched her idolise V and attach herself to her. She idolises love and that can become problematic when that person whom you’ve made an idol if they don’t turn out to be the god that you think that they are and then problems can arise. It’s been really interesting to see where she puts her belief this time when things don’t always go as we plan them to go. I think moments of peace and moments of simplification can be borne out of that. It’s been interesting to watch Suzanne navigate and sort of chart through those waters.

NOW YOU’VE PLAYED CRAZY EYES FOR THREE YEARS, WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT HER?

You know what I like about Suzanne? I love her commitment to her truth and honesty. Suzanne is supremely more than anything else committed to the truth. She is not willing to alter who she is for the satisfaction or comfort of those around her. She’s uniquely herself and that takes a level of vulnerability that I don’t think a lot of us as people walk out into the world with. We kind of walk out into the world with different veils and masks and she’s someone who’s willing, to her betterment or to her detriment, willing to take down that veil and willing to just live her authentic self. She’s definitely taught me that who you are is enough and that you don’t need to make any adjustments – whether it’s your hair, whether it’s how deeply you love or how eccentric maybe your personality might be, she owns it. I love that about her.

HAVE YOU TAKEN SOME OF HER QUALITIES AND APPLIED IT TO YOURSELF?

I think just that ownership of your good and your bad, your flaws are not necessarily flaws. Those imperfections are what make you, your better and most beautiful self. I love that about her. I walk with that. I don’t desire to be anything different than what and who I am.

WHO ARE YOU? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF?

I am a person that’s trying to figure it out. I am happy now. I am a creator and an artist and I mean that in the least pretentious way. I don’t even necessarily think I think of myself as strictly an actor or singer, I think I just like to make things. I am someone who loves very deeply my family and who would do everything and anything that needs to be done for them.

YOU HAVE A REAL FIXATION WITH PIPER IN THE SHOW. CAN YOU RELATE TO THAT FEELING?

I have loved as deeply.I’ve never been fixated in that way but I am familiar with that experience – both sides of it. I was familiar with the experience of loving that deeply and I’m familiar with not being received as deeply.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN YOUR PARTNER?

I am looking for someone who is good. I am just going to put it out into the universe that I want a good man who wants to show me the world! (laughs). That is what I’m looking for and it doesn’t need to be like we’re going to St. Tropez but just somebody that wants to take your mind, take your heart somewhere. That is what I want.

ARE YOU A BIG FAN OF SOCIAL MEDIA?

I do have social media, yes. I have Facebook, I have a Twitter account and I have Instagram. If I’m being honest I think it has a pro and a con to it absolutely. I think it’s almost as powerful as a vote can be in that you have the opportunity to really use your voice for good or indifference.

YOUR FAMILY CAME FROM NIGERIA.DO YOU KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THEM? DO YOU GO BACK THERE? DO THEY SEE “ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK?”

Yes, I do. I just saw actually saw my mom, she was just in town visiting me. I mean she lives in New Jersey and she came to stay with me in New York. With the advent especially of Facetime and Skype that keeps us most of us even more connected which is really, really great. It was so cute because my uncle and aunt brought over these two articles from Nigerian newspapers that she wanted me to have that she was so proud of. She’s like, ‘Look at that!’ They’re so proud.

HAVE YOU BEEN TO NIGERIA YOURSELF?

Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes. Many times.

ARE YOU RECEIVED THERE AS A CELEBRITY?

I haven’t been there since the show came out so I have no idea what that is going to be like. This next time will be the first time going in that way. People watch the show there somehow, pirating I guess (laughs) because there is no Netflix in Africa. So, I don’t know what it will be like but I’m just excited to go back and be able to see my family.

Season three of Orange is the New Black returns to screens June 12.

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