Aduba in 2014
|Born||Uzoamaka Nwanneka Aduba
February 10, 1981
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Alma mater||Boston University|
My family is from Nigeria, and my full name is Uzoamaka, which means 'The road is good.'
As for the fake teeth, they're officially retired. I haven't really found a need or want to wear them.
My family is more a sports family, and I figure skated for a very long time, so movement and how I relate to movement is very integral to my process.
I was in New York doing musicals in the theater and on Broadway before 'Orange,' so people always ask, 'Are you ever going to get to sing? Does she even sing?' But people who know me know I actually do sing.
I was pursuing the arts with theater in school, and I was doing after-school activities, but not in any real movement towards a professional career.
The magic of landing my first role on Broadway went 'poof' in a matter of a few weeks.
I love De la Renta. I love CoSTUME National; I think they're just incredible. And I love Marc Jacobs, too – they're also great, just a great brand.
People were stopping me on the street to say, 'Oh my God, it's Crazy Eyes!' Which is kind of a funny thing to have people shout at you on the street.
You think the only thing looking at you is this steel thing, but behind the camera is this living, breathing person operating the camera whose job it is to watch you.
I loved 'Ghana Must Go' by Taiye Selasi. It's about a first-generation African family living in America that has to return home to Nigeria when their estranged father passes away.
I might literally fall over dead if I meet Oprah Winfrey. I'm kind of joking, but I'm not confident that wouldn't happen.
On some days in prison you might just need to get out of there, but on some days – not all days, but some – you might be able to see the sky and see the blue in it.
I kept hiding my smile in pictures throughout middle school and most of high school until picture day came my senior year.
I think there's something really thrilling to having to get people laughing about something, and then, when you have them in that comfort space, you can drop the weight into the texture of the story.
When it comes to inmates, we have boiled them down to just the few things we know about them – their crime, their current life situation, their identification number. But the reality is they were something before they were their crime.
I think it's always a good idea to dress as someone you like, as long as it's done in good taste. That's the key.
I left my home in Massachusetts after college to move to New York City to pursue my dreams of acting. I took roles for free. I waited tables. I didn't care because it was work.
Onstage, even though you're here together with the other actor, face-to-face, playing out the scene, you also have that other ear pointed out toward the audience and how they're listening. That informs a lot.
I used to be a huge fan of 'Lockup' on MSNBC, and that certainly has helped with my understanding of the world.
My mother is a fighter. After she battled polio and learned to walk again, the doctors told her she would be a cripple her entire life. Instead of accepting defeat, she refused this fate and went on to become the West African Women's Singles tennis champion in college.
My finding of myself as an artist, which I think in itself helped me to find just who I am and how I want to express myself, is entirely – in conjunction, of course, with my family, particularly my mom – founded on teachers.
I'm obsessed with 'Scandal.' I love, love, love it. I've gotten to meet all of the cast at this point, and they're all so, so nice.
I've heard of nothing coming from nothing, but I've never heard of absolutely nothing coming from hard work.
Natasha Lyonne is fantastic on Twitter. She posts hilarious pictures. I don't even know where she finds some of them; it'll be like a random picture of a chinchilla kissing a lion or Bill Murray and Jim Belushi out on a boat or something.
I dream in color, and I have visions of feelings and energies that I would love to feel.
I grew up in a very small town in Massachusetts, and it goes without saying that there weren't many Nigerian families in that town, and a lot of people couldn't say Uzoamaka.
I'd read a lot of scripts, and I remember reading 'Orange Is the New Black,' and it was at the head of the pack. I remember thinking, 'Wow, that is really good. I would love to be a part of that.'
In performance, you don't always feel that sort of family bond right off the top. It sort of develops and grows over time.
I am the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. My mother is a survivor of both polio and of the Igbo genocide during her country's civil war in the late 1960s.
My parents wanted us to be well-rounded individuals and really have the American experiences as richly as one can.
My family is first-generation Nigerian, and we grew up in a very small, suburban town in New England, Massachusetts. So I do understand what it feels like to be an 'only' in that regard.
I try to play serious scenes a little funny and the comedy a little serious.
I ran track in high school very competitively, and then ran it D-1 at Boston University. I ran there on an athletic scholarship and chose BU because they had both a good track program and an arts program.
I think of myself as a little kid, and I had a wild imagination, but it was something that was encouraged and supported, which helped steer me into the arts.
The first information I consume in the morning is probably 'The New York Times' and then my Twitter feed. I think Twitter is a really fascinating, easy way to stay on top of what stories are out there.
I come from Nigeria, and we live by the idea that it takes a village. So my entire team. I live by my team: my friends, my neighbors, my teachers – they're the people who taught me how to be a free actor.
If you're already somebody who's feeling different, you'll do everything in your power to fix it because children will do everything in their power to fit in and assimilate.
When I was little, I didn't smile much. Don't get me wrong. I was a happy kid, but I couldn't stand the space, dead center, in between my teeth. Yeah, I could whistle through it, but so what? That didn't win me many points on the playground in Medfield, Massachusetts.
I like to build a character, trying to stretch my imagination as far to the walls of my brain as I can to come up with something that feels truthful and feels real – as close to the skin as I can get it.