ICYMI, Orange is the New Black’s Uzo Aduba is slaying on the cover of our September issue.
Litchfield’s most lovable inmate sat down with us to talk all things life, love and what it means to be Black and beautiful. Check out these seven fun facts about the talented actress (and singer!), and be sure to pick up a copy of the issue when it hits newsstands tomorrow!
She Knows a Thing or Two About Overcoming Fears
The 35-year-old actress used to be deathly afraid of heights—she says standing on rooftops would give her a serious case of vertigo. However, after learning that her siblings had gone skydiving in Hawaii, Aduba decided to swallow her fear and take the leap—literally. Now, she calls herself a “daredevil” and even admits to being a bit of an adrenaline junkie.
She is a Proud Nigerian
As a child, Aduba was reluctant to use her birth name—Uzoamaka, which means “the road is good” in her native Igbo language. She once asked her mother if she could change her name to Zoe, to which her mother said, “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky and Michelangelo, then they can learn to say Uzoamaka.” Now, Aduba is a proud Nigerian who is “green white green” to the core.
She Knows the Importance of Both Physical and Mental Health
Ever wonder how Aduba got that enviable physique? She’s an avid runner, and she grew up figure skating. Wow! But perhaps more importantly, she has adopted a Zen-like mindset. How so? She regularly sprinkles in mantras like “You must always bet on yourself” in everyday convo.
Her Mother and Oprah Are Her Role Models
Aduba recalls that growing up, she would watch two Black women regularly on television: Oprah and Clair Huxtable. “When I was a kid, there was nobody else like [Oprah] on television, nobody who made me feel as if I could see more of what we as a people can be,” she said. “It was Oprah and Clair Huxtable, and only one of those two people is real.”
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She Quit Acting Just Hours Before She Booked Orange is the New Black
After auditioning for countless roles but unable to book an on-screen role, Aduba decided it was time she retired from acting to attend law school. “There have been times in my life where I have doubted, questioned, felt tired, but I had never quit before in my core,” she said. “My heart never quit. And that was the first time I felt my heart give out on me.” But as God would have it, 45 minutes later, her agent called to tell her she had landed the role of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on the Netflix show.
She’s Single (But Looking!)
Though Aduba is single, (“Single, zero prospects. We’re not even in the race” is how she describes her romantic prospects), she is more than open to love. She says she dreams of settling down with a Nigerian man, but she is not picky. “I’m looking for a good man who wants to show me new things, who wants me to experience life alongside him, not five steps behind him.”
She Refuses to Let Show Biz Get Her Down
Aduba recalls that while trying to break into the business, she was repeatedly told that she was “not enough.” And though there weren’t many who looked like her on-screen, she refused to let the naysayers get her down. “This business will try to convince you that you’re not enough. That you’re not pretty enough, thin enough, talented enough, interesting enough, experienced enough, and I say, ‘Enough! Enough with that!’ Who are you to tell me that I am not enough when I know that I am more than enough?”