The Orange Is the New Black star, 29, talks confidence and going after your dreams.


The biggest thing I’ve learned over the course of filming Orange Is the New Black is that the formula of being yourself plus hard work always wins over anything. And you have to be patient with where you are.

What excites me is getting to play the lead in Much Ado About Nothing [in New York City’s Shakespeare in the Park]. But what excites me too is the idea of a curvaceous black woman getting to be the love interest. I want to show the world that we are desired just as much and that I don’t have to just be a sidekick or play the best friend.

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Credit: Stephanie Diani; makeup by Michael Patterson; hair by Tish Celestine

The manifestation thing is real. Wanting something right away isn’t always good. What the universe has for you is always going to be better than what you can imagine—especially if you continue to work hard and be patient.

My relationship with confidence is day by day. Looking back at photos helps me. I look at myself as an 18-year-old and think about how I judged myself—now I look and think, “Damn, girl, you looked good.” So I’m trying to learn to enjoy the moment and appreciate the person I am now, because in 20 years I don’t want to look back and wish I had been grateful.

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