OITNB’s Danielle Brooks, AKA Taystee, On How The Show Redefines Beauty


You know you are all dying to watch season 2 of OITNB. Netflix’s original series, ‘Orange is the New Black’, sees a group of inmates in an all-women prison navigate personality differences, relationships, race relations, sexuality, and of course drama in a comedic way.

The show is a first of its kind. Dominated by a mostly female-led cast but aimed at all audiences. One of the show’s standout stars, Danielle Brooks, aka Taystee was part of a recent Glamour Magazine event in New York dedicated to celebrating the achievements of college women.

There were some pretty badass women attending, including Brooks, journalist Lisa Ling, Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations, actress Greta Gerwig, Lisa Leslie, retired WNBA superstar and four-time Olympic gold medalist, and more.

Huffpost Women caught up with Danielle Brooks after the panel to further the conversation about women in the media, and what needs to change so that women in the world are better represented.

She starts off saying that we need to focus on changing out definition of beauty.

“I think that one of the beautiful things about being on ‘Orange Is The New Black’ is redefining beauty. None of us have makeup on. Our hair is in its natural state. We have the ugliest outfit in the world on — which some of us try to make cute — but you really have to look at the person and who they are and define their beauty,” she said.

“And people have fallen in love with every one of the characters, from transgender woman [Sophia Burset] to Big Boo to Taystee. We’re all so different and people are really finding the beauty within that person. We need to change how Hollywood and America define beauty.”

One of the things she wants to see is great diversity of women on-screen which will go a long way to representing women in society more accurately.

“We’re still not there, and it’s annoying to still be like “I’m the first black girl on a show,” like, why am I having to do that? And for other people too, not just African-Americans, but for other shapes and sizes, feeling that way. When you look out into the world, we all look different. So why are we constantly only seeing blondes as leads? I don’t get that. I think it’s kind of sad that we’re saying Kerry Washington is the first black, female lead [on TV] in I don’t know how many years,” she says.

She talks about what inspired her as a young woman and actress, and how seeing black women in film and television allowed her the confidence to accept who she was.

“To get to see women that look like myself on-screen, like Countess Vaughn or Regina King or Whoopi, who’s older than myself but had a similar skin complexion and was just bringin’ it in ‘The Color Purple’ and ‘Ghost,”’was very inspiring to my career. So I’m hoping that when people look at me, they are inspired to be like: ‘I can do this!’ And even if they don’t look like me — we all inspire each other.”

Just when we couldn’t love this awesome woman enough, she shares some advice she was once given during her time at Julliard performing arts College.

“Susan Goodall, [Glamour’s Editorial Development Director] reminded me at Juilliard ‘You are enough.’ And that’s easier heard than done, but really understanding that you are enough in whatever you do, so that you’re not getting caught up trying to be someone that you’re not…”

And FYI, this is some advice we can all take on board for our lives, even if you aren’t a performer or actress. The message ‘be yourself’ can never be stated enough in our opinion. Who is ready for season 2 OITNB?






  1. Pingback: How 'Orange Is The New Black's Danielle Brooks Learned To Love Her Body

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