It didn’t take long after “Orange Is The New Black’s” July 11 premiere on Netflix for the new show from “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan to explode onto the pop culture scene. Everyone seemingly became obsessed with the female prison dramedy, and actresses who were relative unknowns when the show premiered got catapulted into overnight stardom.
That was the case for Uzo Aduba, who plays Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on the Netflix hit. Aduba’s previous film and television roles included characters like “Nurse” in one episode of “Blue Bloods” and “Cafeteria Lady” in a short film called “Sing Along,” so she came into the show new to TV viewers. But Aduba’s turn as Crazy Eyes was both comedic and intensely tragic, and she turned a character that at first could have been one dimensional into something much more.
Aduba walked the red carpet at Entertainment Weekly’s pre-Emmy Awards party, and Zap2it had the chance to catch up with her for the first time since before the show’s premiere. She says that she definitely wasn’t prepared for “Orange Is The New Black’s” overnight success, though she and the rest of the cast hoped for it.
“I don’t think you can prepare for something like this,” she says. “You go to work everyday, you get the scripts, you watch the scenes play out, and you think, ‘I know that I’m enjoying this and I know that I’m eating it up and reading it and wondering what’s going to happen next.’ And when I watch my castmates when we’re shooting, I think, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing,’ but you never know what the audience response is going to be and you can never really rely on it entirely because you only can trust what you’re doing and hope that it’s honest and good work. It just feels good when all the love and the work you put into it is received with the same sort of positivity and love.”
Netflix made a big splash at the 2013 Emmys with its first lineup of original programming, and it looks like there’s a good chance “House of Cards” could take home some major Emmy gold. Aduba says she’s trying not to get too optimistic about the 2014 Emmys, when “Orange Is The New Black” will have its potential time in the spotlight.
“I’m so new to all of this. I don’t know what to even expect,” Aduba admits with a laugh. “I know that I’m excited for ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Arrested Development’ and all the shows nominated this year. I know Netflix is just doing new things and being real revolutionaries and pioneers. That’s really exciting I know as an actor to be a part of.”
She continues, “It’s exciting because who doesn’t want to be on the front of something and be a part of something that’s groundbreaking? I know for our show, that’s what it feels like every single day we go to work. It’s exciting. It’s really exciting. I say it all the time and I mean it when I say we live in the future and the future is now, and Netflix is the future. Like, so, let’s get into it. Hashtag: ‘Get into it.'”
In terms of Season 2, Aduba didn’t have much to tease beyond the fact that it will expand upon what fans liked so much about Season 1.
“This season is just as good as the last. The writing is still just as incredible. The acting is still phenomenal. Everyone is just showing up and showing out in ways that you cannot even imagine,” she says. “I think stories certainly expand and grow and that’s the nature of television and storytelling and the prison life. The cast and the writers have found a way to really explore new ideas and I think the audiences will be excited to see those stories play out.”
It came as a bit of a shock to learn that Laura Prepon, who was a series regular in Season 1, might only be appearing in one episode in “Orange Is The New Black” Season 2. (For what it’s worth, Prepon says she is definitely coming back for Season 2.) Prepon and Aduba ran into each other on the EW carpet, and the resulting screams of excitement and hugs were proof enough that there’s no bad blood between the pair. Unfortunately Aduba couldn’t shed much light on who Prepon won’t be back more in the upcoming season.
“I don’t know anything about that with regards to that. I just know that we have an incredible cast; we have an incredible show. Everybody is phenomenal on it. Laura is fantastic and it’s exciting. I think the audience watching this second season is just going to devour it with as much fervor as they devoured this first season — I hope. That’s my hope,” Aduba says.
And rest assured that the cast loves each other as much as it looks like they do. “We’re obsessed. Literally obsessed,” Aduba gushes. “We have the love. Like, I was texting with Pablo [Schreiber] and Taylor [Schilling] earlier. Like, we just love. Each. Other. Just love each other.”
“Orange Is The New Black” Season 2 will premiere on Netflix in 2014.