The screen and stage star opens up about her career, wanting to make a difference in the world and the importance of body positivity.
StyleWatch: You’re starring in Orange Is the New Black and Broadway’s The Color Purple. Both deal with heavy issues like racism and sexism. How has working on them changed the way you think?
Danielle Brooks: Art imitates life, life imitates art. You can’t escape it—especially in the time that we live in. Having a voice is so important. If you have a platform, I believe you should use it. I am still figuring out how to make a difference beyond tweeting about something. I’m 26 years old, and I think it’s the perfect age to figure it out. I’ve been thinking a lot that I’d like to get involved in reminding people to vote—it’s so important for women and young people. So that’s something I really want to focus on.
SW: Were you surprised by the emotional reaction fans had to last season of OITNB?
DB: [Warning: Spoiler ahead.] I knew it was coming. I’m so grateful for every fan we have. Here’s what was interesting: I got many tweets about how devastated people were about Poussey dying. When Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police, I posted something and I didn’t get the same reaction. It broke my heart. I want people to have the same connection with real people as they did to Poussey. The work I’m doing—there’s a purpose for it.
SW: One way you’ve made a difference already is by being an advocate for curvy women. Have you always been confident with your shape?
DB: My mother always told me, “No one is always anything.” That’s so true about my body. I have been comfortable in my skin more days than less, but I still have moments.
SW: Okay, so what do you do when you’re having one of those moments?
DB: To be honest, it’s a daily thing. Something I learned at Juilliard is that being positive is a choice. Sometimes it feels good to live in a negative place, but it feels great to live in positivity. So, I say, “F— the world and their standards. Today I choose to love my life.” I’m still working at being the best and happiest Dani that I can be.