While viewers are impatiently waiting for the second season of Netflix’s breakout hit Orange Is the New Black to return this Friday, fan favorite Uzo Aduba recently chatted with Improper Magazine about how she won the role of “Crazy Eyes” and that one time she wanted to change her name.
Although most people are just now catching on to Aduba’s skills, the Boston native is a veteran theater actress and a classically trained opera singer whose success has been years in the making.
“There’s no way to predict what’s going to catch fire. I knew it was a great show all along, but no one can dream of something like this, and I’m just happy that people love it as much as we love making it,” Aduba told Improper Magazine.
“People expect me to be Crazy Eyes on the subway, with the knotted hair and the jumpsuit, and they seem really surprised to find out what I really look like. You can see when people realize it’s you.”
Though many actors regularly change their names to appear more marketable, Aduba said the thought never crossed her mind when she entered the business because her mother had already set her straight.
“My family is from Nigeria, and my full name is Uzoamaka, which means ‘The road is good.’ Quick lesson: My tribe is Igbo, and you name your kid something that tells your history and hopefully predicts your future. So anyway, in grade school, because my last name started with an A, I was the first in roll call, and nobody ever knew how to pronounce it. So I went home and asked my mother if I could be called Zoe. I remember she was cooking, and in her Nigerian accent she said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Nobody can pronounce it.’ Without missing a beat, she said, ‘If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.’”
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