Uzo Aduba Says A Supernatural Message Kept Her In Acting It's Tuesday: Aduba is best known for her role as Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren on Netflix's 'Orange is the New Black.' She talks to Sam about portraying mental illness on screen, having faith in your dreams, and the latest season of 'Orange.' Get tickets to our live show in LA with actor John Cho and director Aneesh Chaganty at nprpresents.org.
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Uzo Aduba Says A Supernatural Message Kept Her In Acting

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Uzo Aduba Says A Supernatural Message Kept Her In Acting

Uzo Aduba Says A Supernatural Message Kept Her In Acting

Uzo Aduba Says A Supernatural Message Kept Her In Acting

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/630938541/631733561" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Actress Uzo Aduba plays Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Jordan Matter hide caption

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Jordan Matter

Actress Uzo Aduba plays Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black.

Jordan Matter

Before Emmy-award winning actress Uzo Aduba landed the role of a lifetime in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, she was about to give up on acting. The roles just weren't coming to her despite audition after audition, year after year.

The day she auditioned for Orange in Brooklyn, she was late because she had the wrong address. Because of this, she was positive she wouldn't get the role. She cried the entire subway ride home. Aduba thought to herself, "This is not for you. God is telling you this is not for you."

And then she got home and turned on Oprah's Master Class with Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels.

All of a sudden, the words "Keep the Faith" flashed across the screen. Minutes later, Aduba received a call from her agent and manger telling her she got the role she had auditioned for on Orange. That role was for Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren.

Believe it or not, when Aduba returned to finish the Oprah's Master Class episode with Michaels two weeks later, she did not see the words again.

Aduba told Sam that the supernatural "message" has been her motto ever since.

Fast forward six years later — Aduba is an integral part of the Netflix series and has won two Emmy awards for her work on the show.

Producer Anjuli Sastry


Interview Highlights

On the female ensemble cast that makes up Orange is the New Black

You get to really sort of dig into ... their humanity. And I certainly don't think we get the opportunity enough to see such a wide array of women of color, of different colors, existing in a single space. That's still something I haven't yet seen copied yet in this golden age of television.

Orange is unique in that it's not only a female driven show telling this particular story, but such a wide makeup of different women.

On the inner workings of her character, Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren

[Suzanne] is a person who is haunted. And she has her demons. Like all people have. And she's just trying to navigate through those waters as best she can, navigate through her feelings as best she can.

And she's someone who acts before they think. And that is where her mental health is in question because what that pause button — that nanosecond that we all have to consider a choice and consequence — she doesn't have. She just moves. And it's not until after she's moved that she thinks about what just happened.

On growing up Nigerian in small-town Massachusetts

When you are not being validated or affirmed through society, it challenges every child. Every brown, black, little child into wondering, 'Well am I enough?' And for myself, I grew up in a very traditional New England town, very few people of color in my class ... and even fewer black people in my hometown. ...

When I was growing up and around me, beauty was defined — the girls who boys liked had blond hair, blue eyes, brown hair, green or hazel eyes. And that was looked at as beautiful. ...

I really truly thank God for my mom. I thank God for my family, because these are beautiful, strong, chocolate, gorgeous, phenomenal women who just kept pushing and pressing and forcing myself, my sisters, my brothers, everybody, to be like ... we are not going to buy into this narrative.