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Danielle Brooks: Taystee Delight

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A burgeoning Hollywood starlet armed with street smarts and an Ivy league education transforms into scene-stealing divalicious convict.

You can’t really understand how truly gifted she is until you chop it up with her for a few minutes off-camera — naked-faced, beaming, and sweet as a slice of pecan pie. It’s hard to imagine someone as friendly as Danielle Brooks taking on the role of a potty-mouthed, in-your-face, don’t-eff-with-me convict. Fresh-faced and Julliard trained, this Southern belle is guaranteed to tickle your funny bone and play your heartstrings like a harp. We know her as OITNB’s beloved bully, Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, a leader of sorts at Litchfield Penitentiary, where the social infrastructure is dictated by race, reputation and inside connections.

Despite having one of the bleakest character arcs, ironically, it’s Danielle’s light-hearted and soulful rendition that make her the most relatable. She’s the “around-the-way” girl everyone knows; the one you vote for in school elections and save a seat for in the cafeteria. Peel away the bravado, dissect her squishy insides, and you’ll find a layer defined by a close friendship with Poussey Washington (played by real-life friend Samira Wiley) and an unstable existence outside of prison walls.

Fortunately, Danielle’s off-screen adolescence didn’t include foster homes or legal troubles. Raised by a loving and supportive family, Brooks always predicted a career in show business, but not one with such a smooth takeoff. Since leaving two stage productions to film Orange, Danielle is now one of the most sought after brown girls in Hollywood with future projects that include a stint as the first African-American character on Girls.

It can be a challenge keeping the ego in check throughout such an extraordinary journey, but in Danielle’s case, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Warm, outgoing and boundlessly energetic—even on Sunday at the crack of dawn—Danielle’s humble demeanor and southern charm fill the room (without overcrowding it) as she not only greets her OITNB co-stars, but introduces herself to everyone in the room. Not afraid to mingle and chat between shots, our interview felt more like a girly gabfest than an interrogation. Looks this ex-con is leaving the cross-examinations to her alter ego.

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Are you fully adjusted to life in New York?
It’s a big change. It’s definitely a positive change. I get to do what I love here. There are no limitations—that’s what’s so exciting to me. I went to a high school in South Carolina called the Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities and that was basically a mini Julliard. I’ve never been as passionate about anything as acting.

How hard did you have to fight for this role?
I had an audition and I got it. [laughs] What shocked me the most is that one, two-minute moment could change your life. I auditioned with the first shower scene and I brought a prop. [laughs] I came with my ideas; she gave me one adjustment—that Taystee has more light to her. I got it and liked it because we weren’t going the stereotypical route of the angry black woman. There is a lot of room for creative flow, which is a lot of fun. I think that’s what also adds to the show. That’s that collaboration that you need to have and to trust your actors.

How much do you and Taystee have in common?
My mouth is not as foul, but as far as bubbly personality, being happy and smiling; really channeling the good moments when times are tough; I do relate to Taystee in that way. Have I been in prison and foster home after foster home? No, that hasn’t been my experience, but I do feel very close to her. Even when she becomes president of WAC—I was also my high school president.

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Photo Credit: Jasmine L. Gonzalez

How do you play funny without making it look like an act?
Training really helps. [laughs] I feel like it’s also not playing for laughs, staying truthful to the character and always being reminded that there’s a real Taystee out there. It’s never about Taystee—it’s always about the scene partner and what they need from you.

We know you and Samira Wiley are good friends. Is she your favorite person to work with?
I do enjoy working with Samira because we were friends before the show and went to school together. We kind of can’t believe this happened. My favorite person to work with would have to be her and Uzo [Aduba]. As an actor, she’s so smart and always in “Crazy Eyes” mode. She’s so in her zone. Sometimes I get taken out of my world because she’s so funny! She challenges me.

What, if anything, do you like about the aesthetic of the show, like not wearing a lot of make-up or wardrobe?
I like the fact that it’s honest. I don’t want to play an inmate and have lipstick on. That’s wack to me. I’m cool with it on set. But, as soon as it’s over, put on the foundation and fix my eyebrows! Offset, my style is pretty funky. I like big earrings and comfortable clothes. I’m starting to do this whole New York street vibe.

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Photo Credit: Jasmine L. Gonzalez

You recently attended your first Emmy Awards. Tell us about that day.
It was a dream come true. At some point you have to stop, give God all glory for leading me to this moment in time at such a young age, because I swore this was going to happen when I was 40. Look at these actors and how old they are—they’ve been working in the game for a while. To see Kerry Washington and Diahann Carroll on that stage; to be in the same room as so many incredible actors and have them know my work; I just felt like I was in the right place.

Any starstruck moments?
I got to meet a few of the Scandal castmates. That got me. Getting to see the cast of Breaking Bad was huge, too. But getting to talk to Kerry—the first thing she said to me was “You are just beautiful!” Girl, my heart… I was all flustered! I sat next to Octavia Spencer for like ten minutes straight and I couldn’t believe it. I was holding it in and trying to keep it together.

As a woman of color, did you ever think you would get to play this kind of role?
Girl, it is so nice, for once, to be surrounded by people of color who are celebrating each other. We’re always the wife or the daughter or the maid. So, to not be worried about competition or whether there’s only one black girl to be a series regular. I don’t know if I knew this was coming. I’m very optimistic, but so early on in my career to be working with so many women is so inspiring. Also, getting to pick the brain of Toussaint and Kate Mulgrew and work with Laverne Cox, a transgender woman, is an education.

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Photo Credit: Nicholas Nichols

If you could write Season 2, what would happen to Taystee?
The writers always come up with something better than I could ever imagine. I wish the best for Taystee.  I want her to get out of prison, but at the same time, I need her to stay so I can work! [laughs] You know what would be cool? If Taystee got it together and became one of the guards.

Who is on your guest star wish list?

[Singing] A guest star for the day! Maybe Michelle Obama? What would she be in jail for? Eating too many fruits and veggies?

We can’t wait to see you on Girls! What was the best part about shooting your episode?
Lena Dunham is a genius. Watching her act, show run, produce and direct all on one show is inspiring.

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Photo Credit: Nicholas Nichols

Can you see yourself with your own show someday?
Heck yeah, I want my own show! I want to be on Broadway. I want to be in the movies. I want to do it all. I want to do things that I never thought I could do. I want to produce, direct—all of that stuff. Right now, I’m just letting things flow. I feel like the minute you start planning and trying to set your life, that’s when God laughs, so I’m letting him run the show.

What about dating? Did you see any celebrity crushes at the Emmy’s?
I want to, but I’m not dating. I’m looking for a gentleman. Columbus Short is a good one. I was hoping to see Michael B. Jordan. I don’t really have time to date. I don’t know if I want to add that complicated thing to my life right now.

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Beyoncè Shells Out Ivy Park Goodies To Janelle Monae, Yara Shahidi, Kelly Rowland And More

We're less than 24 hours away from the full release of Beyoncè's Ivy Park collaboration with Adidas and fans are beyond ready, thanks to her brilliant orange box preview.

The entertainer and businesswoman gifted her family and celebrity pals with treasure trunks of goodies. From Solange to Yara Shahidi, celebs shared pieces from the collection on social media this week. Adidas announced its multi-year partnership with the mogul last April, making history in the process. The singer is the first black woman to be the sole owner of an athleisure brand. Bey took the steps to own the brand entirely after her initial collab with Topshop in 2016 by purchasing the shares of Phillip Green after sexual harassment claims were filed against him.

“It’s a dream come true to re-launch IVY PARK as the sole owner,” Beyonce said in a statement. It’s her first collaboration with adidas but not her first time building buzz for a product. The legend cleverly shared the mysterious orange boxes in all shapes in sized to her friends, thus creating quite the conversation on social media.

Ivy Park is also creating bigger conversations in the corporate world. According to a November research note by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Ivy Park's sales can slowly surpass Kanye West's Yeezy line.

“In-line with adidas approach on other franchises, we would expect there to be a low volume, high priced launch ... to create brand heat and in the following years the brand will likely become more democratized,” the note says.“Initially, Ivy Park will be smaller than Yeezy, but Ivy Park has the potential to be larger, if managed properly,” says Matt Powell, a senior footwear analyst at NPD Group.

We love to see it.

See the celebs bask in their Ivy Park glory below.

Tina Lawson

 

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I love this couture beautiful Orange IVY PARK Adidas dress thanks @beyonce. @ivyparkadidas @ivypark. @beyonce. @dougspearman

A post shared by Tina Knowles (@mstinalawson) on Jan 12, 2020 at 1:27pm PST

Reese Witherspoon

 

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Thank you, @Beyonce for the #IvyPark swag!

A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on Jan 15, 2020 at 2:28pm PST

Janelle Monae

 

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Thank you Bey for these @weareivypark pieces ! And a special thank you for my new hide out where I’ll bey escaping my duties . S O proud of you ! Luhhhhh uuuuu @beyonce swiiiipe ☄️

A post shared by Janelle Monáe (@janellemonae) on Jan 15, 2020 at 10:35pm PST

Hailey Bieber

[email protected] unboxing her #adidasxIVYPARK package. pic.twitter.com/Y3rcxIDhCe

— BEYONCÉ LEGION (@BeyLegion) January 15, 2020

Kelly Rowland

[email protected] unboxing her #adidasxIVYPARK package. pic.twitter.com/vGqwwnZrnl

— BEYONCÉ LEGION (@BeyLegion) January 16, 2020

Yara Shahidi

 

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ADDIDASXIVYPARK PEEK

A post shared by Yara (يارا‎) Shahidi (@yarashahidi) on Jan 10, 2020 at 11:41pm PST

Scottie Beam

 

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Check my instastories to see what Beyonce SELECTED for me. Lmfao! Thank you so so much @weareivypark @beyonce ✨ THE INFEED PHOTO IS COMING!

A post shared by scottiebeam (@scottiebeam) on Jan 17, 2020 at 6:48am PST

Ellen DeGeneres

Thank you, @Beyonce. I love my big orange box. Your new clothes are really cool too. #adidasxIVYPARK @adidas pic.twitter.com/ecTxZ5o0CG

— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 15, 2020

Missy Elliott

Thank you so much @Beyonce I am soooooooo humbly grateful you are a GEM! Lol the box was so big I was scared to open I thought a whole human was gonna jump out but this FYE sis #IVYPARK I LOVE IT! pic.twitter.com/hJbrfDWvXL

— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) January 16, 2020

Diplo

[email protected] unboxing his #adidasxIVYPARK package. pic.twitter.com/D2BKKVzLBw

— BEYONCÉ LEGION (@BeyLegion) January 14, 2020

Zendaya

Zendaya has gotten her Ivy Park box....#IvyParkXAdidas #IvyPark #adidasxIVYPARK #adidas pic.twitter.com/fLYdYAVyWn

— Yoncé Headlines (@YonceHeadlines) January 15, 2020

Kim Kimble

 

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Thank you @beyonce @weareivypark @adidas for this drip and I’m going to buy some as well

A post shared by Kim Kimble (@kimblehaircare) on Jan 15, 2020 at 4:07pm PST

Rita Ora

Rita Ora out and about in her Ivy Park x Adidas wear. pic.twitter.com/hFt4OQjE4v

— Beyoncé, Period! (@ourhermitage) January 16, 2020

Quincy

Diddy’s son, Quincy, also got a box of the upcoming Ivy Park/Adidas collection, officially dropping on the 18th of January, 2020 pic.twitter.com/rUJOWgy2l4

— Beyoncé, Period! (@ourhermitage) January 12, 2020

Cardi B

 

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That new @weareivypark bomb

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Laverne Cox

https://twitter.com/BeyLegion/status/1216405687862988806

 

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#mood4eva in my Adidas X IVY Park ... #mood #TransIsBeautiful @adidas @weareivypark @beyonce #DisclosureDoc

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Michelle Williams

 

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Looks coming soooooooooon!!! “I GOT IT” by @rickydillard is appropriate! @beyonce @weareivypark @adidas!! Ok bye for now!!

A post shared by Michelle Williams (@michellewilliams) on Jan 16, 2020 at 2:03pm PST

Solange

Solange getting the Ivy Park x Adidas from her sis pic.twitter.com/G2bRO2lTYc

— | IVY PARK X ADIDAS ON JAN 18th (@beysarayonce) January 15, 2020

Kendall Jenner

Kendall Jenner got a Ivy Park box...#IvyParkXAdidas #IvyPark #adidasxIVYPARK #adidas pic.twitter.com/79LGysUZBp

— Yoncé Headlines (@YonceHeadlines) January 17, 2020

Keke Palmer

 

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why do i feel like the whole planet earth is going to wear ivy park? — #beyonce #beyoncé #queen #queenb #yoncé #rumiandsir #rumiandsircarter #rumicarter #sircarter #blueivy #blueivycarter #jayz #jayonce #beyonceandjayz #thecarters #sashafierce #beyhives #beyhive #beckywiththegoodhair #ivypark #ivyparkbeyonce #weareivypark #ivypark2020 #2020 #beyonce2020 #beyoncephotoshoot #beyonceoutfit #flawless

A post shared by (@bivyslife) on Jan 17, 2020 at 4:36am PST

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Jennifer Lopez's Iconic Versace Dress To Be Transformed Into Swanky Watch

The iconic Versace dress worn by Jennifer Lopez that sparked the creation of Google Images is now a luxurious watch.

To mark the brand's Spring-Summer 2020 collection, the brand has decided to reprise the Medusa Frame jungle print by way of a sleek timepiece. In addition to the new collection, this also marks the 20th anniversary of Donatella Versace's legendary jungle print. Roman numbers are found in the dial along with an interchangeable black leather strap for additional styling. The piece will cause Versace and J.Lo fans a pretty penny at $1,495.00 when it hits retailers in May.

Since her jaw-dropping fashion moment, the actress-singer has rocked the print a few times. A jumpsuit version was worn in the visuals for "I Luv Ya Papi" back in 2014 with a revamped version of the gown making its way to Milan Fashion Week in 2019.

But the jungle print wristwatch isn't the only second coming of the print. The brand will also release shirts, heart-shaped necklaces, Squalo sneakers and beaded as a three-dimensional décor on Virtus handbags.

Originally worn to the Grammys in 2000, Lopez's take on the dress was both a music and fashion moment. Although the dress was worn by Spice Girls member Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice, Donatella Versace and Sandra Bullock (in another color), Lopez's daring look cemented her spot in pop culture.

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Supporters of singer R. Kelly, Azriel Clary and Joycelyn Savage, leave after the singer's arraignment at the Dirksen Federal Building on July 16, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.
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Azriel Clary Contemplates Working With Feds In R. Kelly Case After Fight With Joycelyn Savage

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Clary's mother Alice Clary spoke with PEOPLE about the welfare of her daughter and urged the public to see her as a victim, not a willing participant in Kelly's alleged behavior. “Everybody has something to say, she was 17 when she left. Now she’s 22, but guess what? She’s had problems for the last few years,” she said. “She may have done things as far as being grown physically as a young woman, but mentally no. She still has the mental capacity of a 17-year-old because he kept her stagnated for years and didn’t let her be with her family.”

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