Uzo Aduba

Actor. New York

By: Meagan Wilson
Styling: Stephanie Mark

We'll just come out and say it: the stronger the character in a script, the more likely you are, as an actor, to become synonymous with said character. Is anyone else as guilty as we are of equating actors with their onscreen selves, or making the assumption that they're one in the same? Because we're totally raising our hands over here. And in the case of Uzo Aduba, the actor who brings Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren to life in our longstanding Netflix binge of choice—Orange is the New Black, duh!—we may have previously had the teensiest inclination to do just that. That is, until last year's Emmy Awards, where, popcorn and wine by our side—Aduba had her big win, clad in a sleeveless, white Costume National goddess-y gown. We dare you to YouTube her speech and not get a little misty-eyed at your MacBook. Uzo was officially in the building.

According to Aduba, she and Suzanne become one with the help of the simplest trick in the book: a little stroll around set. "I like to I call it inviting her in, so opening my body up... I like to feel physically loose, because I feel like this particular character is very physical. She uses her body in really extreme ways," she explained to us. And while the bantu knots and prison uniform probably do a number in terms of transforming, too, Aduba's off-screen, IRL wardrobe comes down to one word: regal. For day-to-day (you know, when she's not rubbing shoulders with Morgan Freeman, Emmy in hand) we're talking fitted shift dresses flanked by a strong pump: Dior, Manolo Blahnik, Michael Kors.

To the surprise of no one, the Boston native (check the Fenway Park blanket we convinced her to cuddle up in as proof of her loyalties), put it best herself when she said of her fans' freak-outs, "Usually the things that I get are, ‘you’re actually a lot smaller in real life!’ I’m like, ‘yes.’ That’s a common one. Or, 'why are you in a dress?' I really haven’t gotten those in quite a while, to be honest, because people are more used to me. I think initially, when the show started, people thought they got somebody out of a mental institution and were just shooting her, like, guerilla style or something. Now they know what the show is, so they don’t ask those questions." We think that's what they call making it.