After a disciplinary STUDENT trip to a men’s prison, a teenaged Uzo Aduba was “scared straight” and vowed to never end up behind bars. “I was terrified,” she recalls. “I got the message and lesson from that visit.” Little did the future thespian know her breakout role in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black would put her right back in the slammer nearly two decades later.

Aduba almost missed the chance to be a part of the critically acclaimed comedy-drama. In 2012—after nearly quitting showbiz because she was unsure of the direction of her acting career—the Massachusetts native scored the part of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. Now, the industry is giving the versatile actress her due. Within the past year, she has taken home an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance.

Sure, Crazy Eyes’ signature Bantu knots and unpredictable outbursts make her easy to identify among her orange-suited peers, but for Aduba, the character’s ability to open up her heart unconditionally is what makes her a standout. “You watch her love so hard but never win at it,” she notes.

Read more in the June 2015 issue of EBONY Magazine.