Uzo Aduba's Emmy win at Saturday's Creative Arts Emmys was especially poignant because she nearly gave up acting before she was cast in the award-winning role of quirky inmate Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren on " Orange is the New Black."
"It's surreal," Aduba, 33, told People on the red carpet prior to her win. "All I can hold onto today is this idea of the day I got this job, I was leaving this business, I had quit and now I'm at the Emmys, and I'm nominated for an Emmy, and my show is nominated, and my castmates are nominated."
Aduba's night got even more surreal when she won the award for outstanding guest actress over fellow cast members Natasha Lyonne and Laverne Cox, and accepted the trophy from Morgan Freeman.
"It's like you're walking and you're aware that you're walking toward Morgan Freeman, but you're fairly certain you should still be sitting on your seat," she said later in the press room. "You're like, 'Maybe I'm embarrassing myself, maybe they didn't call my name, maybe somebody else's name. I don't know what's happening.'"
At the podium, Aduba teared up as she thanked her mother, who left Nigeria "to make a better life for her family."
She also thanked the "OITNB" producers for a show "that lets everyone be represented in such a beautiful way."
"I don't know how to say how incredibly impressed I am to be a part of this show," Aduba said.
Later, backstage, she told reporters, "I feel so full, that's why the tears come out. I'm stuffed really. I'm beyond full. My cup runneth over right now. I feel absolutely all of those things: I feel full of joy, like a fountain. Mission accomplished."
Aduba's Emmy was the first win for the Netflix comedy series, which received 12 nominations.
The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards airs Monday, Aug. 25.