Uzo Aduba - Telling Untold Stories in "American Pastoral"

October 18, 2016 - Uzo Aduba 10/18/2016 Views: 1,803

Uzo Aduba explains why she was drawn to the 1960s period film "American Pastoral" and talks about challenging mental health stigmas through her show "Orange Is the New Black." (5:31)

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Please welcome Uzo Aduba.

(cheers and applause)


-Here we are.-Welcome.

-Thank you for having me.-Welcome to the show.

Thank you.

I am such a big fan of yours.

-I don't think you understand.-Oh, my gosh.

I think everyone here isas well.

-You are...(whooping and cheering)

You are just...Wow, wow.

Uh, I mean, even from the tinyclip you see in this movie.

Your performances...

Like, do people sometimes forgetto yell, "Cut"?

I feel like the directorsometimes just watches and goes,

(whispering):"No, just go, just go."

(whispering):Yeah. Just riff.

-Keep it going.-Yeah. You...

This is, this isa beautiful story.

And, uh, if-if you wouldn't mind

telling us a bitabout your character.

You-you playa fantastic character,

who is teaming up with,you know, a white man,

in a time in America when thatwas not a normal thing to do.

Why did you choose the role?

What did this role mean to you?

And-and what does the storymean to you?

Oh, my gosh.

Well, I chose the rolebecause I've always wanted

to tell storiesthat I call them "the missing,"

the people that I feel likeare missing when we see stories.

Even if it's somethingwe've seen before.

-Maybe it's toldin a different way. -Yeah.

And I hadn't seen a characteryet from that time

who I felt wasso self-possessed,

she was strong,and she wasn't afraid

to speak her opinion,or use her voice,

and that's whyI wanted to do it.

And Ewan McGregor,our director--

he directed this movie, as well.

Um, as well as starring in it.

And he's amazing, you guys.He's absolutely amazing.

Is this... This washis first time directing?

-This is his first time.This is his first time. -Wow.

And he did it exquisitely.

And it was just such a beautifulpiece to be a part of.

I'm forever...forever grateful.

I think they're gonna beforever grateful to you

because you are juston the rise.

I-I was shocked to find outthat when you auditioned

for Orange Is the New Black,

on the day you auditioned,you had planned to quit acting.

I had quit that day,like, for...

(laughing):Yeah, I had... I...

-That is so... Why?-I did.

Because I had spent some time...

You know, that summer I wasauditioning for so many jobs,

and it just feltlike I was going,

"No. No. Mm... no."

-Yeah. -And I was gettingfatigued by it all.

And I just thought,"Well, maybe this isn't for me.

"Maybe I'm tryingto make something happen

that isn't for me."

-Yeah. -So I got home,and had quit, and was done.

And 45 minutes later,I got a phone call saying,

"Remember that audition you wenton for Orange is the New Black?"

And I said, "Yeah."And they said, "You got it."

And it was... that was that.

-No law, no law.-It was that, and...

-It is what it is now.-(cheering and applause)

It's amazing. It's, I mean...

If you, if you look atwhat that show has done,

just in terms of... you know,people talk about diversity

in a way that makes it seem likeit's a, it's a,

it's a charity of sorts,but that full...

that-that show used it ina positive and powerful way,

because it's-it's an advantage.

Orange is the New Black has-hascharacters and faces and ages

of people that we've neverseen before on television.

Looking at your character,

looking at "Crazy Eyes,"as she's affectionately known

-with-within the prison.-Yeah.

It is, it is an interestingjourney that we've been on

with her, because when westarted, there was no empathy.

You were like,"Oh, she's crazy, she's crazy."

And then over time,you go, "Oh, no.

-"She has mental health issues.-Mm-hmm.

She's struggling.She's going through a lot."

And you've used,not just the character,

but your platform,to talk about that.

I think it's importantto talk about that.

I mean, I thinkthat starts first

from our show creator,Jenji, who is real...

you know, just as you said,she's so interested

in telling the stories thatwe don't see typically told.

And those people exist.You know, all these

shades of people exist,including

Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren--

she has a storyand is really interesting...

interested in nurturing thatgently and honestly.

And that's...that's what I'm interested in,

as far as that subject matter.

I think we're finally...I'm excited by the fact

that we're finally startingto reach a point

-where that's a conversationpeople are having. -Yeah.

Um, and it's being hadwithout as much, um,

stigma or generalizationas, I think, in the past.

And I hope it continuesand I hope we can advance

on that conversationas authentically

and thoroughly as we can.

Before you go,can I ask you for one favor--

could you just teach mehow to do Suzanne's eyes?


-Wow. -I try all the time,but I just need your help.

I'm... How do you-how do youget the eyes?

Okay, this is genuinely howI think about it. Are we ready?

So, if you think aboutsomething that you love...

Do you have it?

-Okay, yes.-Okay.

-Now, imagine, like, a firein your stomach. -Mm-hmm?

It's really low.

And start turning it up.

Warming it up.

It's really delicious.

You might even get it.

It might evencome to you later tonight.

Get that thing--in the morning, it's here.

It's knocking on the door.

Get over the top,keep it contained.

Come on, fire, fire, fire, fire,you're getting it!

-You're getting it, Trevor!-(cheering, applause)

-I did it!-He did it.

I did it! I'm gonna be in Orange is the New Black.

American Pastoral opens in L.A., New York

and select citiesFriday, October 21.

Orange is the New Black iscurrently available on Netflix.

Uzo Aduba, everybody.-♪ -(cheering, applause)