Exclusive - Uzo Aduba Extended Interview

October 18, 2016 - Uzo Aduba 10/18/2016 Views: 15,430

Uzo Aduba chats about working with Ewan McGregor in "American Pastoral" and explains how she uses her role on "Orange Is the New Black" to create a dialogue on mental health. (7:36)

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Please welcome Uzo Aduba!

-♪ -(cheering 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.

-I think everyone here is aswell. You are... -Oh, my gosh.

-(cheering and applause)-You are just... Wow. Wow.

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

your performance is...

Like, do people sometimes forgetto yell "cut"?

I feel like the directorsometimes just watches

and goes,"No, just go. Just go. Just go."

-Yeah. "Just riff.Keep it going." -Yeah, you...

This is a beautiful story,and, uh,

if you wouldn't mind telling usa bit about your character.

You play a fantastic characterwho is teaming up with,

you know, a white manin a time in America

when that was nota normal thing to do.

Why did you choose the role?

What did this role mean to you?

And what does the story meanto you?

Oh, my gosh.Well, I chose the role

because I've always wantedto tell stories

that 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 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."

-You know, and...-Wow.

Yeah. And my family...My family's from Nigeria.

-And, um... Oh.-(applause and cheering)

A lot of Nigerians in the house.


And, um, they had wanted me,when I was little,

they thought I was gonnabe a lawyer,

'cause I can talk a lot,and so I was just like...

I like that that wastheir only criteria.

(laughing):Yeah, exactly.

I just, I just picture your dad,he's like,

(with Nigerian accent):"This one can talk a lot.

This one can talk so much,she must be a lawyer."


-You.-Is she smart? Doesn't matter.

-She can talk a lot.-Yes. Right.

Pretty much, pretty much.

And so I was like--I thought, okay,

-this is what I'm gonna goand do. -Yeah.

And so I got home,and had quit, and was done.

And 45 minutes later, I got aphone 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 in apositive 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.

You tell stories that a lotof the times are never told.

And, and, um, because of that,I-I must congratulate you,

-a multiple Emmy award-winningactress. -Thank you.

Because of that,even your speeches...

-Thank you.-(cheering and applause)

-Thank you.-Even-- if you haven't seen...

Even your speeches-- you shouldwin Emmys for your speeches.


That's how amazingyour-your speeches are.

But, um, but, uh,looking at your character,

looking at Crazy Eyes as she'saffectionately 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.

You-You're doinga-a great job with that.

Um, you're also doing a greatjob in your career now.

I mean, we're going to see yougoing everywhere.

-You are a true thespian.You really are. -Thank you.

-A lot of people... Even-even...-I like the way you said that.

Even in the show, thes...Like, no, no, even Crazy Eyes,

-when she performs her littletheater pieces... -Oh, yeah.

you're li-you're like, "Wow,she can act. She should act.

She should go and actsomewhere."

-It's weird.-She should go and be a lawyer.

Yeah, she shouldgo and be a lawyer.

That girl should be a lawyer.How's that girl...

Uh, but-but for you, as Uzo, um,where do you see yourself going?

What do you want to do,what are your aspirations,

what are your dreams withinthe world of acting and beyond?

Oh, man. That's a...

Whew, okay.

Uh, my dreams, as far asacting is concerned,

and just as an artist,

I want to be the most authentic,

um, pure artist as I can be.I want to try and...

My ambition is to bring as manypeople

and as many seats to the table--à la Solange--

as I possibly can.

Um, and introduce as manynew ideas as I possibly can.

I want to do everything.

I just wantto tell great stories

and be a part of great stories.

You're-you're definitelydoing that. 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)