Fans of "Orange Is the New Black" have already fallen in love with Taystee, the outspoken inmate with a complicated past, on the Emmy-nominated Netflix series.
Get ready to feel the same way about actress Danielle Brooks, who feels lucky to have landed the part.
"I didn’t know that it would be such an amazing phenomenon that it is now. It’s incredible," she told ABC News. "To be nominated for 12 Emmys for the first season and get so much recognition and love from the fans? I never imagined all of this happening!"
Brooks, 24, is already shopping for her Emmys dress ("I'm hoping to show a little skin -- but not anything scandalous," she revealed) and reveling in her off-camera friendships with her co-stars (she and Uzo Aduba, who plays Crazy Eyes, are especially close) but she hasn't forgotten her roots. Here are five things to know about the star.
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1. She Studied Drama For Years: Brooks grew up in South Carolina, where she attended a performing arts high school, the Governor's School for the Arts & Humanities. "I knew from an early age that this is what I loved to do," she said. "The path was clear for me." After graduation, she moved to New York City to attend Julliard, where she met Samira Wiley, who plays Taystee's best freind, Poussey. While Brooks said the move was tough for her (at 17, she got homesick easily), she knows it was the right thing to do. "To be in New York at 17 years old and be without family and be in a program that was so rigorous was taxing, mentally and physically," she said. "But it led me to this moment now."
2. She Wants to Be a Califoria Girl — Sometimes: "Orange" shoots on the East Coast, so for now, Brooks is based in the Big Apple. However, the self-described "free bird" is willing to move anywhere. "I'm the type of person that [will go] whereever I'm supposed to be, if that's L.A. or Chicago or whereever," she said. "Right now I plan on staying in New York, but maybe not during the wintertime. The ultimate goal would be able to be bi-coastal."
3. She Loves Music: A true art fiend, Brooks loves being a part of the music and theater scene in Manhattan. On her nights off, she can be found taking in jazz performances at downtown lounges or watching a foreign film or documentary. "I love going to shows," she added. "I just watched a castmate of mine, Adrienne C. Moore, in 'Ethel Sings' off-Broadway."
4. She Likes Working Out: "I'm very active, believe it or not," she said. "I like working out in Central Park and taking bike rides." Brooks said that rather than focusing on weight loss, she's simply "toning." "I'm just making my figure under the jumpsuit more noticeable," she said with a laugh.
5. She's Willing to Sign Autographs: Now that season two has been released, Brooks said it's getting harder and harder to go places without getting noticed -- not that she minds. "It's very exciting," she said. "It can be overwhelming at times, but I'm very grateful to my fans. It's going to get crazier."