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Danielle Brooks (born September 17, 1989)[1] is an American actress and singer. She is best known for her role as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson on the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black. She received a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of Sofia in the 2015 Broadway production of The Color Purple.

Danielle Brooks
Danielle Brooks 2014.jpg
Brooks at the 73rd Annual Peabody Awards in 2014
Born (1989-09-17) September 17, 1989 (age 30)
EducationJuilliard School (BFA)
OccupationActress, singer
Years active2011–present

Early life and educationEdit

Brooks was born in Augusta, Georgia,[1] and grew up in South Carolina,[2] in a Christian family; her father was a deacon, and her mother, a minister.[3] She began acting at the age of six in a nativity play put on by her church.[4] For her final two years of high school, she attended South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts & Humanities, a selective arts high school.[3] She studied drama at the Juilliard School and graduated in 2011.[5]


After graduating from Juilliard, Brooks won roles in two theater productions: the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Servant of Two Masters, and Blacken the Bubble. She left both productions in 2013 to join the cast of the Netflix-produced television series Orange Is the New Black, a show about a women's prison, based on Piper Kerman's memoir of the same name. Brooks played as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson.[5] Her character originally was intended to be featured in the show for only two episodes, but was written into the rest of the first season and subsequent seasons.[5] Taystee's onscreen best friend Poussey is played by Samira Wiley, with whom Brooks has been friends since they met while studying together at Juilliard.[6] Brooks' performance on the show has been favorably reviewed by TV critics,[7] with one writer calling her "the breakout actress of the show and one of the most refreshing and exciting new talents of 2013."[3] Brooks was upgraded from a recurring cast member to a series regular for the show's second season.[8] She competed against co-star Uzo Aduba in an episode of Spike's Lip Sync Battle that aired on June 28, 2017. Brooks won with performances of Ciara's "1, 2 Step" and Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer".[9]

In September 2013, Brooks was cast in a third season episode of the HBO series Girls, becoming the first African-American actress on the show.[8]

Brooks made her Broadway debut in the 2015 revival of The Color Purple as Sofia.[1][10] The musical opened on December 10, 2015, at the Bernard B. Jacobs. Brooks received good notices for her performance,[by whom?] and received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.[11] In June 2019, she played Beatrice in The Public Theater's production of Much Ado About Nothing.[12]

Personal lifeEdit

Brooks announced on July 2, 2019, that she was pregnant.[13][14]



Year Title Role Notes
2015 I Dream Too Much Abbey
2016 The Angry Birds Movie Olive Blue/Monica the Crossing Guard (voice)
2019 Clemency Evette
2019 The Day Shall Come Venus


Year Title Role Notes
2012 Modern Love Raimy TV movie
2013 Black Girls Rock! 2013 Herself TV movie
2013–2019 Orange Is the New Black Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson Main cast
2014 Girls Laura Episode: "Females Only"
2015–2017 Master of None Shannon 3 episodes
2016 Lasso & Comet Comet (voice) Pilot
2017 Tangled: The Series Ruthless Ruth (voice) Episode: "The Wrath of Ruthless Ruth"
Lip Sync Battle Herself Episode: "Danielle Brooks vs. Uzo Aduba"
2018 Project Runway All Stars Herself Episode: "Damsels in Distress"
High Maintenance Regine Episode: "Namaste"
Elena of Avalor Charica (voice) Episode: "A Lava Story"

Awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Danielle Brooks". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 2, 2019. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  2. ^ Hutcheson, Susannah (November 15, 2017). "How I became an actress and advocate". USA Today. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Fallon, Kevin (December 11, 2013). "Danielle Brooks, Taystee on 'Orange Is the New Black,' Is the Breakout Star of the Year". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  4. ^ Soloski, Alexis (July 10, 2013). "Quick Route From Juilliard to Jail". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Abdulhamid, Yassmeen (September 2013). "Fame Is the New Reality for 'Orange' Actress". The Juilliard School. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  6. ^ Andrews, Helena (September 9, 2013). "Danielle Brooks on Being 'Tasytee' and Staying Grounded". Ebony. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  7. ^ Henderson, Samantha (August 29, 2013). "Danielle Brooks of 'Orange Is The New Black': 'We Weren't Going To Sugarcoat Things'". Out. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Danielle Brooks Will Be 'The First Black Woman' On 'Girls'". The Huffington Post. September 15, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  9. ^ Ganz, Jami (June 26, 2017). "OITNB's Danielle Brooks rocks out to Bon Jovi on Lip Sync Battle". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
  10. ^ Cox, Gordon (May 27, 2015). "Danielle Brooks of 'Orange Is the New Black' Joins Broadway's 'Color Purple'". Variety. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  11. ^ "Danielle Brooks: Awards". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Retrieved July 2, 2019. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  12. ^ Shattuck, Kathryn (2019-06-14). "Danielle Brooks Is Ready to Be a Love Interest". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  13. ^ Brooks, Danielle (July 2, 2019). "So elated to finally share this news with you all". Brooks verified Instagram account. Retrieved July 2, 2019. I'm happily pregnant!
  14. ^ Cardoza, Riley (July 2, 2019). "Orange Is the New Black's Danielle Brooks Pregnant, Expecting Her 1st Child: 'So Elated'". Us Weekly. Retrieved July 2, 2019.

External linksEdit