Vicky Jeudy On Her Journey To OITNB: “A Big Part Of Getting To Your Goal Is Being Content With The Process”
On the day I was scheduled to meet and interview Vicky Jeudy, better known as Orange Is The New Black (OITNB) star Janae Watson, I wasn’t sure what I’d find. Would she be reserved? Detached? Celebrity-like? Whatever that means. Upon arrival, I encountered a beautiful woman who knew everyone’s name on set, and had jokes and kind words for each and every one. To put it simply, Jeudy is bubbly. And chatting with the rising star was a joy from start to finish. Read on to see what she told me about her Haitian heritage — her parents didn’t want her to be an actress — the hardest thing about pursuing her dreams, and how she landed her role on OITNB. Plus, she spills the tea on how she maintains her fabulous mane.
MadameNoire (MN): How did you get started in acting?
Vicky Jeudy (VJ): I’ve always been interested in the arts. I majored in theater and from there began doing indie films and shows off Broadway.
MN: Being Haitian, I have to ask: how did you’re parent’s feel about your decision to do theater?
VJ: Oh [laughs] they were totally against it. They were sure it was a phase. I learned early how to balance respecting them while also pursuing my dreams. It’s about being a responsible artist. While pursuing acting, I worked. Whether it was 9 to 5, or otherwise. I did whatever I had to do to ensure I was taking care of myself while still taking acting classes and everything else that got me closer to my goals.
MN: Did they try to persuade you to major in something else?
VJ: My mom wanted me to become a physical therapist because when I was 18 I became a certified fitness instructor (which is a great way to make money while in school). So it fit with that background and I could potentially open my own gym.
MN: If you weren’t acting is that what you’d be doing?
VJ: I would be a nutritionist.
MN: Are you still very into fitness?
VJ: Well to be honest I’ve slipped a little bit. [Laughs.] But I feel the difference. I believe you are what you eat. Having a clean diet, drinking lots of water, I can see the effect in my skin and in my attitude.
MN: Do you have a trainer?
VJ: I do. And he is intense. Depending on my schedule, I see him twice a week.
MN: What was the hardest thing about pursuing your dreams?
VJ: The hardest thing for me was the balance of pursuing my dream and supporting myself. My action plan (after I became a group fitness instructor) was to work during the day with a flexible schedule then be able to go to auditions or projects at night. But, I wasn’t surviving. I took a break and got a corporate job for close to two years. I’m so thankful for that experience because I was able to pay off all my debt (credit cards and student loans). I was still able to use the weekends or the time after work for acting.
MN: While working, did you feel…
VJ: Trapped? You know what? No. I used that job as a vehicle. It was my car to get me to my next destination. I was paying my bills, becoming debt-free, and putting money aside for acting. With that in mind, I was able to keep looking at the big picture. I think
MN: Tell me about your journey to OITNB
VJ: It was quick. I was back in New York for a family emergency and within a-year-and-a-half I was on the show. I auditioned on Thursday and by Monday I got the call. I loved Janae Watson from the beginning. It wasn’t about falling into a stereotype but capturing everything she was losing by going to jail. I think everyone can relate to the pain of loss (of family, friends, etc.). I was intrigued by this young girl heading to prison.
MN: How are you similar to Janae?
VJ: [Laughs.] Janae does her own thing; she’s an individual. She is also a humanitarian and an activist, which is something I can relate to. I’ve been volunteering in some capacity or another since I was 18.
MN: Any projects in particular you’re working on now?
VJ: I can’t say too much about it yet, but I’ll be heading to Haiti soon to observe a group doing great work there. I want to see whether to join in their efforts. Whatever I put my name to, I put my heart behind. There is so much beauty in Haiti that most people don’t get to see.
MN: How are you different from what people expect?
VJ: As you can tell, I’m bubbly! People who meet me are always surprised that I’m not mean. I’m actually super friendly!
MN: I know on set at OITNB everyone has such a wonderful bond. How did that come to be?
VJ: I think it’s the fact that for all of us this is pretty much our breakthrough. It feels like a group of women coming together, celebrating the newness of the experience. It feels like freshman year of college. Whatever happens in the future, I know I’ll always have a bond with these women.
MN: You know the readers of MadameNoire will want to talk hair. When did you go natural?
VJ: [Laughs.] I went natural right after college. I did the big chop four times.
MN: Tell me about your beauty regimen?
VJ: My main concern is having healthy hair which means, for curly hair, it’s all about moisture. I keep it well conditioned. The majority of shampoos dry out my hair, so I usually stick to co-washing. I love Shea Moisture products, especially the Coconut & Hibiscus conditioner and the Curl & Style Milk. Shea Moisture also has some great hair masks. I usually mix the mask with coconut oil then go under the dryer for 20 minutes. I also love Eco Styler gel.
MN: And what’s next for Vicky Jeudy?
VJ: I don’t want to limit myself. My rebellious nature won’t myself to be labeled ‘actor’ exclusively. It may be behind the camera or becoming an entrepreneur, whatever it is, I want to be open to it.
Produced by : Optik21 & The Teknique Group & Fanm Kanson Network
Make up: Jessica Santoni
Hair: Jamila Worland
Wardrobe: Lunden Olin II
Location Manager: Fleurimond Catering & Carisoul TV