Most college kids in Los Angeles are busy chasing lofty aspirations (or tequila shots). On her introductory voyage to L.A., then-Boston University student Uzo Aduba was chasing other runners at a Mt. San Antonio College track meet. “My first trip was completely unassociated with acting or the arts,” she says. “I remember thinking, ‘This is where the big Hollywood dreams happen.’ And I always knew I would be back.” She was right. Six years ago Aduba starred in the musical Venice at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (she’s a classically trained singer, which you may recall from her turn as Glinda in The Wiz Live! or her surprise performance with Taylor Swift at Staples Center last year). In 2013, Aduba landed the role of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black (season four premieres June 17). The part has earned her two Emmys, which is two more than any other cast member. And while New York is her home, she ranks her L.A.-ness at “a solid 10 percent.” We’ll take it. Here she talks painful parking tickets, doing hard time with Marilyn Monroe, and tasty jailhouse contraband.
Three female Angelenos—dead or alive—you could spend life in prison with?
Marilyn, Dorothy Dandridge, and does Meryl count?
Yes—do you claim her?
I mean. Obviously.
That’d be class, sass, and storytelling.
Your first name means “the road is good.” L.A. street deserving of that distinction?
Maple Drive, where Netflix used to be. It all began there.
One L.A. snack food you’d sneak into prison?
Seaweed thins. I could eat a stack of those.
Are those even worth sneaking in? I feel like if a guard found those on you, they’d just be like, “What the…”
They’d be like, “We’ll just give them to you.”
If you had a teardrop tattoo for every L.A. parking ticket you’ve received, how many would you have?
Two. One of the times I was minutes—minutes—late, and they still wrote the ticket.
That’s the worst. You’re like, “Please, no!” and they’re like, “I already put in the license plate number.”
Exactly. I’m like, does that really make a difference? I don’t know if I believe that.
Pick a hype woman: Taylor Swift or Taylor Schilling.
That’s not a real question. They hype two different parts of my life! One hypes my acting, one hypes my music. Apples and oranges. They’re both my dandelion. I can’t choose.
If you could drop Crazy Eyes into an episode of any other Netflix show, which would it be?
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She’d have fun with Kimmy, and she’d understand her stories about the bunker.
Part of L.A. that feels like Oz?
The red carpet. That moment when you get out of your car feels like that moment when Dorothy opens the door and everything is in color.
Go-to karaoke song?
Easy. Wilson Phillips, “Hold On.” Next question.
Famous Angeleno who could not survive in prison?
I feel like most Angelenos can. If you can survive the 405, you can survive most anything.
They’re pretty similar, prison and the 405.
Marry, Kiss, Kill costar edition: Mary J. Blige, Natasha Lyonne, and Queen Latifah.
Woof—are you joking? Impossible. Oh, man. OK, so I’d marry Queen. She’s the Wiz, she can take care of all. And, I mean, I’m obsessed with her. Kiss Mary, just to change it up. And because I know Natasha will forgive me—but as the Good Witch of the South, I will bring her back to life! I can’t kill any of these women! I will take her on the red carpet, and we will go back to Oz.