21 Things To Know About The Cast of 'Orange Is The New Black'

We love the Orange is the New Black cast because they're funny, talented, beautiful, and they're totally like our best friends in our heads. Get to know Uzo Aduba, Lorraine Toussaint, Laverne Cox, Danielle Brooks, Samira Wiley, Vicky Jeudy, and Adrienne C. Moore as we gear up to honor them at ESSENCE's 8th annual Black Women in Hollywood event on February 19.

Jolie A. Doggett Feb, 06, 2015

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Aduba ("Crazy Eyes") is a classical opera singer who studied classical voice while attending Boston University. 

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Aduba didn't originally audition to play Crazy Eyes. "They said they wanted to offer me another part, Crazy Eyes, she said. "I was like, 'What in my audition would make someone think I'd be right for a part called Crazy Eyes?' But to be honest, when I got the script for it, it felt like the right fit."

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The Nigerian-American actress once appeared on Project Runway: All Stars and was dressed to appear like a "really rich material girl" 

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The Julliard-trained actress was inspired to act by hearing Nikki Giovanni's poem "Ego Tripping" in third grade. "It had an energy and a life to it. And it made me sit up in my seat, and my eyes got wide, and I really felt inside myself, she’s making me feel things. I want to do that," she told OUT.

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Samira's dream role? "Juilet in Romeo and Juliet" she said.

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The two OITNB stars met while studying at Julliard, years before landing their roles as best friends on the show. 

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Brooks comes from a religious family; her mother is a minister and her father is a deacon. It took some convincing for them to approve of Taystee's topless scene in season 1, but she says it all turned out well. "At the end of the day, they were very happy that I chose to do this," she said.

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Brooks finds a lot similarity between herself and her character, Taystee. “She feels people aren't going to take her seriously,” Brooks told Interview. “For a while, I felt that way. I'm very young, and the times when I wasn't working, I felt like that. I was thinking, "Am I not enough?" 

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Brooks made a huge upgrade on the Wendy Williams show when three years prior to appearing as a guest on Wendy's couch she sat in the audience. All the way in the back. 

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Cox has an identical twin brother, musician and composer M Lamar, who appears on OITNB as Marcus (Sophia before her transformation).

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Cox is a woman of firsts. She is the first transgender woman of color to have a lead role in a scripted television show. She is also the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of TIME Magazine and the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy in an acting category.

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Three books changed Cox's life: Black Looks: Race and Representation by bell hooks, Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood changed my life, and Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. "There are lots more, but those are the three that left me shifting molecules," she told ESSENCE.

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If you're too hooked on OITNB, you may not have noticed that Lorraine stars as Lt. Joanna Reece on ABC's new hit series, Forever. 

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She had to get brave for her nudity scene on OITNB. "I am well into my 50s. I don't do that. I don't want anyone looking at me going, 'Oh my God, she's so brave!'" said the actress in an interview. But ultimately she was able to overcome her fear, "I was pleased I was brave enough to be true to that moment and true to that woman and serve her."

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Lorraine had never watched Orange Is The New Black before joining the cast as the psychotic Vee. 

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A former high school track star, Jeudy ("Janae") was also a semifinalist in the Miss New York USA competition. 

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Jeudy is very close friends with OITNB co-star, Adrienne C. Moore, who plays Black Cindy. “We’re nuts! We’re usually singing in between takes, playing patty-cake, or using those long, orange electrical cords as jump ropes. We even have a signal we shout out for when our dorm comes on set,” Jeudy said in an interview

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Like her character in OITNB, Jeudy is athletic. She became a certified aerobics instructor when she was 18. 

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The Nashville native has been studying voice, piano and dance since the age of 5. OITNB is her first recurring role—she previously had guest appearances on 30 Rock and Blue Bloods.

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Moore is set to co-star in The Lennon Report, a film about the shooting of John Lennon.

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Moore did voiceover work for McDonald's and Vaseline commercials before starring on OITNB.