Danielle Brooks credits ‘Orange Is the New Black’ with helping her find her voice

Danielle Brooks of “Orange Is the New Black” talks about what series she’s bingeing, her favorite classic shows and more.

For loyal fans of Netflix’s hit series “Orange Is the New Black,” it may be a shock to learn that Danielle Brooks has not always been quite as outspoken as the character she plays.

On the show, Brooks is Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, an inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary with a big brain, a bigger heart and an even bigger mouth, who is never shy about voicing her opinion in any given situation.

But for Brooks herself, being vocal on matters she’s passionate about has taken time.

“Sometimes Danielle, myself, can be a perfectionist,” Brooks admitted when she stopped by The Times’ video studio recently. “I want to speak so eloquently, and I want any time I say something to be so meaningful.


“But I realized,” Brooks said, “that’s not really me,” before dissolving into laughter.

Brooks went on to explain that she used to use her perfectionism as a crutch that prevented her from using her voice, but the vocal women involved with “Orange” allowed her to recognize that perfection wasn’t a prerequisite for being heard.

In particular, Brooks has used her newfound platform to advocate for body positivity, serving as a spokesperson for Refinery29’s 67% Project — which focuses on representing the 67% of plus-sized women in America, who make up less than 2% of images in the media — and as a model for Lane Bryant’s #ThisBody campaign.

“Right now, my biggest focus is women loving themselves and being the voice of women that are plus-sized,” Brooks said.


It’s another thing the Tony-nominated actress appreciates about “Orange,” where a curvy character played by Dascha Polanco serves as the principal love interest for a handsome male guard.

“I appreciate the fact that we’re highlighting that beauty can come in all shapes and sizes,” Brooks noted. “There’s beauty in every roll, stretch mark, pimple on your face. There’s more to a person than all of that other stuff.”

Getting involved in activism was just one of many topics Brooks chatted about during her visit.

For insight on filming the harrowing cafeteria scene from Season 4, her time spent splitting her days between “Orange” and a Broadway stint in “The Color Purple” and why she has no recollection of the first line of dialogue in her first acting gig, check out the entire interview below.



Danielle Brooks talks about her busy schedule working on TV’s “Orange Is the New Black” and onstage in “The Color Purple.”

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