The 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards took place on Jan. 30, 2016, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Here is what this Screen Actors Guild Award winner said backstage in the Screen Actors Guild Awards press room.
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
(“Orange Is the New Black”)
Who has been your biggest advocate in the industry?
There have been many people who’ve inspired me, but I’ve had only one hero, besides my mother, and that’s Ms. Oprah Winfrey. She has been my lifetime hero since I was a kid. And stilCelebrity Interviews, Screen Actors Guild Awards, SAG Awards, SAG Award interviews,l today has been today an exceptional human being.
And I also have been so inspired when I was doing “The Wiz” this past year, getting to stand beside Queen Latifah was pretty intense. She’s pretty intense. I think she’s amazing. I wanted to sing the theme song to “Living Single” and “U.N.I.T.Y.” I wanted to do that the entire time.
I think she’s phenomenal, what she’s been able to do across multiple platforms as an artist, performer, producer, rapper, jazz singer, actor, writer. And the list goes on and on. Viola [Davis]. Meryl Streep, I’ve been watched and been impressed with as well.
This is your second SAG Award in a row. What is it about the Crazy Eyes character that keeps jumping out at everybody?
I don’t think I’m best-equipped at answering that question, as far as what people are drawn to with her. I know for myself, what I love about her is her authenticity, her honesty, her willingness, despite the hard, the challenge that is love, and maybe existing authentically as herself. She exists, despite the challenge that it takes to be that much herself. I love that about her. She’s entirely, purely herself. And that’s what I like about her.
Last year, you talked about how you almost quit acting until the day you got the role in “Orange Is the New Black.” Can you talk about how that means to you now?
When I think about it, that day, that time, the day that I got this job. That sight is still visible in the rear view mirror of my life. I can still see it. It’s not so far back or distant that I can’t recall that feeling, I can’t remember that day, I can’t remember what it felt like to hear repeatedly, “No, no, no.” Or to not get that audition. I know that feeling. It resonates throughout my entire being loudly. I can’t ignore it. And I can’t feel anything other than grateful for it.
And I feel that it came to my mind for some reason while I was standing up here: “Wow, I’m at the SAG-AFTRA Awards, the SAGs.” And just the other day, I happened to be scrolling through my Facebook, and a young actor had written me about the business and agents. I just feel like there are so many people to give to this art form who have so much to say with their art that I just want to acknowledge that.
What was one piece of advice that you got when you are started out that has helped you get to where you are today?
I think the greatest piece I’ve ever been given singlehandedly came from my mother. My family immigrated to here from Nigeria. My mother has overcome numerous obstacles to make it possible for me to be standing here in this moment with you all.
And when I moved to New York to pursue this, she dropped me off at the train station, and she turned off the car, and she was like, “Uzo, just work hard. All I know is if you’re good there, you must work hard. I’ve never heard of nothing coming from hard work.”
And that was something that stood out. And that was something she had said her entire life to not just myself but all my siblings. But for some reason, on that day, I really heard her and what she was really trying to put into me.
For more info: Screen Actors Guild Awards website
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