This year, we’re celebrating an extended Black History Month by highlighting a variety of rising forces who are creating history before our very eyes. Back in 2013, Uzoamaka Nwanneka Aduba—Uzo for short—was one of the first indicators that Netflix's Orange Is the New Black would be something truly special. As Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren, Aduba brings tenderness, mental health awareness and heartfelt comic relief, characterizing much of the show's main concerns in a single wonderful character.
The Orange role has also made Aduba the first performer to receive Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmys in two categories—Drama and Comedy—for one character. (She's also been nominated for a Golden Globe, taken home a trophy from the Critics' Choice Television Awards and grabbed two solo wins and two ensemble wins from the Screen Actors Guild Awards.)
Raised in Massachusetts, Aduba is a first-generation daughter of Nigerian immigrants. “My spirit would not sing, live, breathe, inhabit, stay inside my body, if I did not make art, create art, do something artistic in some way,” she told BuzzFeed's Another Round podcast in December, just before she played Glinda the Good Witch in NBC's The Wiz Live! (Yeah—her singing voice is as spectacular as her acting chops.)
In addition to her acting work, Aduba has won the internet with lovely moments like bringing her high school prom date to the SAG Awards and joining Taylor Swift onstage at the 1989 Tour. While we have no doubt her work will continue to extend to the big screen and proliferate on the stage, the great thing is Orange Is the New Black will officially be airing through at least 2019.