Danielle Brooks sinks her teeth into an­other ‘Or­ange’

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - TV ART - By Meredith Blake

Spend a few min­utes with Danielle Brooks, and it’s easy to see why, fresh out of Juil­liard, she was cast as or­phan-turned­in­mate Tasha “Taystee” Jef­fer­son in “Or­ange Is the New Black.” The se­ries re­turns to Net­flix for its fourth sea­son.

Like her al­ter ego, the 26-year-old is warm, vi­va­cious and re­fresh­ingly free of af­fec­ta­tion. The ac­tress made her Broad­way de­but late last year in a re­vival of “The Color Pur­ple” and was nom­i­nated for a Tony Award. “It’s just golden and plat­inum ev­ery­where,” she says of her cur­rent hot streak.

The fol­low­ing is an edited tran­script of the con­ver­sa­tion.

Q: Why do you think Taystee has be­come such a fan fa­vorite?

A: I think they see them­selves. A lot of black women haven’t got­ten the chance to see more than just the sassy black woman or the an­gry black woman. There’s so much depth to her. I think they ap­pre­ci­ate her in­no­cence as well as her harsh mouth. She’s re­ally so in­tel­li­gent. She’s try­ing to show that she’s ca­pa­ble of mak­ing it in the world. I think that’s why peo­ple love Taystee. I know that’s why I love Taystee.

Q: There’s a real sense of missed po­ten­tial with her

: Yeah, (she’s) re­ally just lack­ing guid­ance. It’s crazy how the writ­ers have spun it, be­cause now she’s the one giv­ing that guid­ance.

She’s be­come the mother and now is try­ing to make sure that Crazy Eyes is do­ing what she needs to do, Poussey isn’t out with hooch all day. It’s very in­ter­est­ing how the dy­namic for her is chang­ing.

Q: The scene with Crazy Eyes where Taystee breaks down over Vee’s death was pretty in­tense.

A: I was re­ally grate­ful to the writ­ers be­cause I was happy that I got to show more colors, be­ing that I did go to school for this thing that we call act­ing. It was like, “Fi­nally, I re­ally get to sink my teeth into some­thing.”

It was very emo­tional. Even one of the crew came up to me af­ter and said he had just lost some­one in his fam­ily and by see­ing what we were do­ing, was able to get some bit of re­lief from that. That’s what ex­cites me about the work that we do. That’s what it’s for — to heal.

Q: What’s the most in­ter­est­ing or un­ex­pected re­sponse you’ve got­ten from a fan?

A: One time I was walk­ing down the street, 42nd Street, and this guy was with his son, and he stopped me and was like, “I’ve been in­car­cer­ated be­fore and I know many Taystees, so thank you for be­ing hon­est in what you do.”

Q: You trained at Juil­liard and then went straight into TV. What have you learned from work­ing in the medium?

A: Un­like the­ater, you don’t have a long re­hearsal pe­riod at all. You just do it. TV has taught me to make bold choices in the mo­ment and not to hold back.

Q: You’ve said be­fore that your life changed in 13 hours when “Or­ange Is the New Black” came out.

A: You start to go to restau­rants, and peo­ple are looking, and all of a sud­den you have a bill that says zero on it, and you’re, “OK, this is dif­fer­ent.” Then all of a sud­den you have a hair stylist and a makeup artist and a pub­li­cist and a lawyer. I love act­ing be­cause . I get to ob­serve peo­ple.A I get to walk in Cen­tral Park and watch some­one play­ing with their child, and that’s fun for me. Now, the ta­bles have turned, and peo­ple are watch­ing me go to the bath­room or how I eat or how I speak. It was a lot to take in a short amount of time.

LARRY BUSACCA/GETTY

“I love act­ing be­cause I get to ob­serve peo­ple,” says “Or­ange Is the New Black” star Danielle Brooks.

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