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Uzo Aduba: Who You Callin’ a Witch?

Uzo Aduba: Who You Callin’ a Witch?

Uzo Aduba
Photography by Amanda Friedman

The answer is everyone, when the two-time Emmy winner — who plays Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on the Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black — takes on the role of Glinda in NBC’s The Wiz Live.

Out: This year you became the first actress to win a drama Emmy and a comedy Emmy for the same role. Let's put this to rest: Which type of show is OITNB?
Uzo Aduba: One that sometimes uses comedy to highlight the drama of a prison. Really, the category doesn't matter at all to me. It's exciting to be in something that can balance the two worlds, where you'll have Suzanne writing the Time Hump Chronicles and it's rubbing up against Pennsatucky and her assault.

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Your Emmy acceptance speech in September was the most moving of the night. Was it written down?
I don't write anything down, ever. I saw Jenji [Kohan, creator of Orange Is the New Black], and maybe it's because of her rainbow hair, but it just dawned on me what to say.

You thanked her for "putting belief back in [your] heart."
The day I got this job, I was reaching my threshold with acting, saying I had to quit and become a lawyer. That day, she called me. She didn't care that I'd never done a TV show.

Uzo Aduba as Glinda the Good Witch in The Wiz Live on NBC

Photo: Paul Gilmore/NBC

And now you're doing a live TV musical, playing Glinda the Good Witch.
We had the Wiz DVD when I was growing up, and now I'm actually doing it! I've been trying to unpack the word "witch." We use it so casually in reference to women instead of another word that sounds just like it. What does "witch" mean when it's attached to "good"? How does Glinda walk around with that word? Because she's still a witch.

You've been in a lot of stage musicals, but people might not know you can holler.
I've been desperate to sing, and I can't wait to be in a room with so many amazing singers in the cast. Who doesn't love Ms. Mary J. Blige? And I'm obsessed with Queen Latifah.

Will you blast "U.N.I.T.Y." during rehearsals?
On the first day! Or the Living Single theme.

The Wiz Live! holiday special airs Dec. 3, 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Watch the teaser below:

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