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Uzo Aduba has scored her first Emmy.
The Orange Is the New Black actress topped five other women — co-stars Laverne Cox and Natasha Lyonne included — for the Emmy for outstanding guest actress in a comedy during Saturday’s Creative Arts Emmys.
Aduba gives her celebrated Netflix series its first acting kudo at the Emmys, and was one of the streaming service’s seven awards announced during the evening.
“I don’t know how to say how incredibly impressed I am to be a part of this show day in, day out,” said a teary-eyed Aduba from the podium after presenter Morgan Freeman handed the awestruck actress her award.
Backstage, the 33-year-old found herself on the verge of crying once again. “I feel so full, that’s why the tears come out,” she told reporters, adding: “I’m stuffed. My cup runneth over right now. Mission accomplished, thank you.”
Aduba went on to discuss her admiration for show creator Jenji Kohan. “The thing I love most about working with Jenji is her want and this burning need to tell the truth, and it doesn’t really matter the cost, what it takes to go here,” she said. “She puts that and instills that in her writing and her writers, and it’s just incredible.”
She continued: “Her heart is just mama bear for everybody on that team, not only for the art that she makes, but she wants to create a family there for us. She really does everything in her power to make sure that energy — the love and the life that’s present — stay bright, and that makes it the perfect work environment.”
As for where she’ll place her gold statuette, Aduba is uncertain. “I have never thought about where an Emmy should go in my home,” she acknowledged. “Now, I have to!”
Last month, Aduba spoke with The Hollywood Reporter after she received the news of her nomination. “I just can’t even believe it. I’m speechless,” she said. “We worked on this show and spent time together really just trying to tell a great story and invest in each other’s performances. It just feels good to know that people love the show as much as we love making it.”
In June, she wrote a guest column in THR, where she pleaded with Emmy voters to recognize shows with diverse casts. Evidently it proved successful, as Orange casting director Jennifer Euston took home the first trophy of the night for outstanding casting in a comedy series.
Aduba, who initially read for sporty track star Janae, was called back a month after her audition to play a different character: Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. “Jenji has this foresight and this vision,” explained Euston of the casting process. “She can see she was great for the part.” Added Kohan: “It’s so fascinating to talk to this incredibly sane, bright woman and watch her transform.”
Orange Is the New Black‘s impact on this year’s Emmy race was already significant going into Creative Arts and the primetime telecast on Aug. 25. After Netflix chose to submit the hour-long show as a comedy, skirting the considerably more competitive drama race, the series raked in 12 nominations. That put it only one mention behind the streamer’s pioneering original, House of Cards.
Other kudos have been less aggressive in honoring in the show — though it has scored several key noms and victories. It nabbed a solitary Golden Globe nomination for star Taylor Schilling (also an Emmy nominee for her work), a Peabody Award and three Critics’ Choice Television Awards.
During THR’s recent Emmy roundtable for comedy showrunners, Kohan seriously underestimated her series’ fortune during awards this year. “I f— myself during awards season,” she said. “My shows are all weird hybrids.”
Orange is also nominated for best comedy during the live Emmy telecast, where it stands to be the first hour-long to win the category since Ally McBeal in 1999.
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