Uzo Aduba’s story is drastically different from that of her Orange is the New Black character’s, Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren.

For starters, the 35-year-old actress is a self-admitted thrill seeker who is a fitness junkie and who boasts not one, but two Emmys. Oh, and she completely stuns on the cover of our September issue of ESSENCE.

“This business will try to convince you that you’re not enough,” she says in her cover story. “That you’re not pretty enough, thin enough, talented enough, interesting enough, experienced enough, and I say, ‘Enough. Enough with that!’”

Aduba explains that she struggled to merge her Nigerian roots with her Boston upbringing (she once asked her mother if she could change her name to Zoe). It wasn’t until she discovered acting that she began to truly find herself.

However, her road to success was not an easy one. In fact, after countless failed auditions, she definitively decided that she was going pursue her Plan B. 

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“My heart never quit,” she recalls. “And that was the first time I felt my heart give out on me.”

Uzo Aduba Dishes On Her Real Life ‘Dandelion’

But, as fate would have it, 45 minutes after she made that decision, she got the call for Orange is the New Black. Since her Netflix debut more than four years ago, she has appeared in numerous films as well as a successful West End play. As her career continues to flourish, she is committed to staying grounded and grateful.

“There are millions of people in this world who choose to watch out show, and without that choosing, we would not exist,” she said. “Thank you for being open enough to allow us into your home. Thank you for seeing us and seeing that we matter.”

For more from Aduba, be sure to pick up a copy of our September issue, on newsstands August 12!