Danielle Brooks on ‘OITNB,’ Philando Castile, and the Future

danielle brooks oitnb
source: Instagram

(This article contains OITNB season 5 spoilers.)

Actress Danielle Brooks has had an incredibly busy year.

From her role on screen in Orange is the New Black, to her role on stage in The Color Purple, she has had little time to rest. But she carved some time in her schedule to chat with Vulture about OITNB Season 5, its relevance to the real world, and the future of her and the show.

While filming, Brooks stayed up to date on the Philando Castile case and couldn’t help but notice the overlap between her press conference scene, and that interviews with Diamond Reynolds (Castile’s girlfriend).

Danielle was only given scripts a few days in advance of filming and had to quickly channel particular emotions into her performances. In fact, Brooks channeled some of Reynolds’ strength in her own performance. She said,

“I went back and I watched a few of her clips and I was like, ‘That’s it. That’s what I needed.’ Also, to drop into the reality of the situation was what I was playing in this fictional world.”

When asked about her thoughts on Taystee turning down all of the other demands that the prison was going to meet, Danielle explained,

“I think it’s great because at the end of the day it’s not tying a nice bow around it and saying, ‘Woo-ha, we did it!’ That’s reflective of the world we live in. I think sometimes we feel like, ‘Oh, well we marched in Black Lives Matter,’ and ‘Oh, we did the Women’s March in D.C. so let’s tie a bow around it.’ No, there is still a lot more work to be done and we still have a far way to go, so for the writers to choose to say, ‘You know what, we’re not going to make this nice and neat. We’re going to make this complicated because this is the world that we are reflecting.'”

It’s no secret that the show includes some really tough moments and scenes that are difficult for the actors to film. When asked how she decompresses after really emotional moments, Danielle explained,

“Sometimes I have to take a walk. I definitely had to take a walk after the death of Poussey and that scene in season four. I really wanted to take a moment — there are a lot of moments where I wanted to take moments…When I’m wiping my face, that was a moment where I just wanted to say, ‘Hey, can we just take a second and I can go back.’ But then you realize that it’s not about you, this is a part of the storytelling too. Everything that you’re feeling and going through, push through it because that’s what this woman needs. This is what Taystee is going through.”

When asked about Taystee’s future if she ever gets out of prison again, Danielle speculates that,

“I think she would be starting her own organizations. I see her standing with the mothers and the fathers who have lost their sons and daughters to police brutality. That’s what I see for her now.”

Talking about the show in a more general sense, Danielle also expressed her gratitude for Netflix and the content it produces. She praises the service:

“That’s very, very important to me, to give another narrative. And Netflix has not been afraid of doing that, as we see from the plethora of shows that they have, from British shows to American shows like Master of None, which I’ve been very grateful to be on, too. Just giving platforms to people who haven’t seen themselves on TV. I think that’s why people gravitate toward this show. They get to say, “That’s me.” And that’s a big kudos to Netflix. It’s doing it in a way that is also not generic because sometimes shows can act like they’re being diverse or innovative, but it’s still such a generic, boring formula.”

We agree!

And finally, on her own personal life and happiness, Danielle said,

“I’m happy with my career, I’m happy with the growth that I’m taking as an artist. I love the career that I’m starting to build for myself. I like the patience that I’m learning in this process.”

Danielle also mentioned that she’s working on a big feature film, but can’t yet say what movie it is or who she’ll be playing. Regardless, we can’t wait!

For the full interview, click here.

Allie Bush
Allie Bush is a Contributing Writer at Femestella. She is interested in creating and sharing entertaining and engaging content, in whatever form it may take. She is a proud TV junkie and in her spare time can be found watching late night talk shows, talking about Chrissy Teigen or Amy Poehler, or eating off of other people's plates.