Uzo Aduba On Self-Love: “Who Are You To Tell Me That I Am Not Enough?”

August 9, 2016  |  

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Last year the beautiful Black ladies of Orange is the New Black (OITNB) covered Essence magazine’s July 2015 issue, but this summer Uzo Aduba has a cover all her own, because she is “enough.”

Self-acceptance is the topic at hand for the lady we’ve come to love as “Crazy Eyes.” In the September 2016 issue, she discusses her frustrations with the entertainment industry, both before her success and even now that she’s snagged two Emmys and two SAG Awards, particularly when it comes to perceptions of beauty and talent.

“This business will try to convince you that you’re not enough. That you’re not pretty enough, thin enough, talented enough, interesting enough, experienced enough, and I say, ‘Enough. Enough with that!’ Who are you to tell me that I am not enough when I know that I am more than enough? I cannot subscribe to anyone else’s idea of how I am meant to look, what size I am meant to be, whether I have a gap in my teeth, how I’m supposed to behave, what your idea of what my Black womanhood is supposed to look like. No. This is me. I am just Uzo. I can’t be anything other than that, and I don’t want to be.”

Uzo EssenceWe don’t want her to be either. We can’t imagine OITNB without Aduba’s portrayal of Crazy Eyes, but had the 35-year-old not landed that part, she likely wouldn’t still be acting now. After a slew of failed auditions, she decided she was over show business.

“There have been times in my life where I have doubted, questioned, felt tired, but I had never quit before in my core. My heart never quit. And that was the first time I felt my heart give out on me.”

Aduba’s heart ended up being wrong. Forty-five minutes after quitting, she got the call that she was cast for the hit Netflix show. “I lost my mind,” she recalled of landing the part. “I’m running around my apartment crying. I was like, ‘You don’t understand. I just quit.’ And my agent quoted The Godfather line: ‘Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in.'”


It’s for that reason that Aduba doesn’t take OITNB’s loyal fans and the opportunities she’s gained as a result lightly.

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

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