Danielle Brooks is finding her spotlight as a leading lady

Actor Danielle Brooks bought her huge break as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, the lovable, natural-born chief in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.

That character was solely meant to look in a few episodes however wound up turning into the anchor for one of many present’s most poignant story arcs. It shouldn’t be a shock that Brooks’s abilities stretched a bit half into a featured function.

Daniell Brooks [Photo: Stephanie Diani]

She’s at all times had leading-lady potential—and she or he’s proving simply that with her current starring function as gospel legend Mahalia Jackson.


In Lifetime’s Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia, Brooks superbly embodies the groundbreaking singer and civil rights icon each in motion and in voice. It’s a function that feels customized made for Brooks, partly as a result of she had a essential hand in shaping the story as a co-executive producer.

“This is a probability for me to point out and show to myself—which I knew, however it’s nothing like really doing it—that I’m a leading lady,” Brooks says within the newest episode of Quick Firm‘s podcast Inventive Dialog. “And that I’ve that functionality to guide as not simply an actor however placing on the hat of a producer as effectively and being nonetheless a mom and a wife-to-be, nonetheless caring for my very own family—I can juggle that. I can do it.”

Take a look at highlights from Brooks’s Inventive Dialog episode beneath, and hearken to the total episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.

Chasing craft over fame

I virtually didn’t take Orange is the New Black. I used to be beginning to work a little bit. I used to be doing regional theater. That’s the factor: Folks suppose all people needs fame. That was by no means my objective. I wished to at all times be revered for my work, primary. Fame was by no means the factor for me. So I used to be cool happening the regional theater path. I used to be cool with making a regular, good verify that I felt I may help myself [with]. Possibly on the time I wasn’t dreaming large enough. Possibly, as a result of I felt like I needed to lay these bricks a sure means, from what I’ve seen different celebrities that I like, like Viola Davis. I do know that it takes time.

[Photo: Lifetime]

Portraying Mahalia as greater than a singer

They actually allowed my voice into the area [as a co-executive producer.] Each scene, I might be like, “I don’t learn about this. I don’t learn about that.” However the largest factor was the hysterectomy scene. There wasn’t that within the script. I used to be doing a lot analysis, [and] one of many issues that caught out to me was her need to be a mom. I had simply had Freeya, my daughter, and once you’re going by means of the maternity course of, you hear so many tales. You’re looking for so many tales, as a result of you’ve gotten worry, you’re nervous. You don’t know what to anticipate. So I simply felt like this was our alternative to permit the Black lady’s expertise [of] motherhood to be within the room. Let’s speak about it. I don’t suppose we do this sufficient, particularly a lady of that point who represents my great-grandmother and all the struggles that they had been coping with.

Considering like a child

Creativity is once you permit your 10-year-old self within the room. While you’re 10, you don’t care what individuals suppose. You might be permitting your creativeness to run free and wild. No one can let you know that you could’t do something, that you could’t be in Jupiter someday and be in a jungle the subsequent day. There’s no limitation. That’s what creativity is—once you don’t permit any limitations on no matter you’re engaged on or who you might be. I might in all probability even go youthful than 10-years-old, permitting your 5-year-old self to simply be current.