OITNB’s Crazy Eyes Explains Why Her Gap Teeth Make Her Beautiful

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We’ve already written about how ‘Orange Is The New Black’ is revolutionizing the representation of women in mainstream TV, with actress Laverne Cox being the first black transgender woman on TV, and of course the show being one of the first featuring a 99% female cast which hardly wears any makeup, and features a diverse array of ethnicities.

One of our fave characters on the show and no doubt a fan fave, is Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, played by Uzo Aduba who has created one of the most iconic female characters in modern day television. Although we love everything about Crazy Eyes, especially her hair styles, the actress herself wasn’t always such a fan of her own features.

In an article called ‘Mind the Gap’ for Cosmopolitan Magazine, Uzo talks about her gap teeth and how it was such a point of contention for her as a young girl growing up wanting to look like everyone else.

“I couldn’t stand the space, dead center, in between my teeth. Yeah, I could whistle through it, but so what? That didn’t win me many points on the playground in Medfield, Massachusetts. To me, it was the greatest imperfection. Straight-up ugly,” she writes.

Uzo goes on to say how during her school years she would never smile in photos, and was jealous of all the other kids who started getting braces. Although she begged her mother to get a pair to fix the gap, her mother refused, and for good reasons.

Her mother explained how the gap in her teeth is a signature of her Nigerian family heritage called the “Anyaoku gap”, and the people who had it were revered.

“In Nigeria, my mom explained, a gap is a sign of beauty and intelligence (Take that, Chiclets!). People want it. My mother desperately wished she had the gap but wasn’t born with one. She continued to lay on the guilt, explaining that my gap was ‘history in my mouth’. ”

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Quite the ironic statement about history, because now her gap has made history on TV also!

It was during a school photo session one year and a comment from the photographer which changed her perspective entirely, despite her family constantly telling her the gap in her teeth was beautiful.

” ‘I hate the gap in my teeth,’ I explained. He paused, fixing a few things on his camera and said, ‘Really? I think you have a beautiful smile,’  and went back to shooting. I’ll never forget that moment. It’s amazing how years of hearing the same response from family and friends constantly had fallen on deaf ears. But right then, I heard it and felt beautiful.”

When Uzo eventually moved to New York and signed with an agent before her acting career took off, she made a decision that the gap in her teeth was going to be part of her look, and she was going to own it! Although she did invest in a removable fake teeth piece which she could wear to auditions, now that her breakthrough role on OITNB has cemented her as a true unique talent, she says she won’t be using it any time soon. Where would Crazy Eyes be today if she didn’t have the gap to flaunt?

“I see the irony of playing a character famous for an unusual physical characteristic, but it’s an important daily reminder of how far I’ve come. She is perfectly imperfect. She owns who she is and is unapologetic,” she says.

That statement is yet another reminder how our unique qualities are never something we should apologize for, but embrace. We love these positive messages of beauty and empowerment and are glad that a show like Orange is the New Black is breaking molds left, right, and center! Keep up the great work ladies. Bring on season 3!

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: GirlTalkHQOITNB's Uzo Aduba Relishing Her Role Model Status

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