Orange Is The New Black star Danielle Brooks is proving she’s been woke.
The actress, who is currently serving stellar performances in Broadway’s The Color Purple, recently told The Guardian that she had some hesitation about her role on OITNB fearing that the role could be seen as an angry Black woman stereotype.
“I remember Jennifer Euston, the casting director, saying to me, ‘She’s not angry, she’s more like the light of the prison’ and right then I knew I wasn’t going to play the ‘angry black woman’, I was going to choose to show a different side of a woman who was incarcerated.” She added, “I will never play a stereotype, because I will always make sure I make choices that are rich and colorful and try to show more of a person than meets the eye.”
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Brooks also sees the show as a way to introduce people to the Black Lives Matter movement, especially given its latest season. The actress believes that television and OITNB has the ability to reach people and create a discussion on race, police brutality, and transgender issues.
“The beauty of this is that Orange is the New Black can go into the home of some white boy in Wisconsin who has never heard of the Black Lives Matter movement, but he has fallen head over heels for this character named Poussey, and now he has been exposed to this movement. He now has a better sense of what’s going on in the world because of the stories we’re starting to tell.”
Social awareness has always been Brooks’ mind.
The actress revealed that once in fourth grade she wrote a letter to the mayor of Greenville, South Carolina, her hometown, about the confederate flag.
“I said to him, ‘You know, there’s so much pain and hurt that my people feel from this flag.’ Being so young, I even made a new Confederate flag and put a heart in the middle of it, and I was like, ‘Can this be the new flag?’ Of course that didn’t happen, and he just wrote some generic letter back.”
Brooks added that with shows like Queen Sugar, Atlanta, and Master of None conversations around diversity, race, and injustice will continue to grow.
“When it comes to TV it’s a slow burn right now, but I think we’re doing it and we have to just stick with it. Right now I feel excited by the material I am seeing. There are a plethora of new shows that are coming out that have diverse groups of people in front of the camera and behind the scenes.”