Danielle Brooks is an American actress best known for her role as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson in Orange Is the New Black, and for her Tony nominated portrayal of Sofia in the 2015 Broadway production of The Color Purple.
Brooks was born in Augusta, Georgia and grew up in Greenville, South Carolina in a Christian family; her father was a deacon and her mother a minister. She began acting at the age of 6 in a nativity play put on by her church. For her final two years of high school, she attended South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts & Humanities, a performing arts school. She studied drama at the Juilliard School and graduated in 2011.
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, as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson.
Her character Taystee was originally intended to be featured in the show for only two episodes, but ended up being written into the rest of the first season. Taystee's on-screen best friend is played by Samira Wiley, with whom Brooks has been friends since they met while studying together at Juilliard. Brooks' performance in Orange Is the New Black has been praised by critics, with one writer from The Daily Beast calling her "the breakout actress of the show and one of the most refreshing and exciting new talents of 2013". Brooks was upgraded from a recurring cast member to a series regular for the show's second season. In 2014 and 2015 Brooks received three awards, one for the Young Hollywood Award for Breakthrough Actress and two others for Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
In September 2013, Brooks was cast in an upcoming episode of the HBO series Girls, where she will play the first black woman on the show. She portrays Laura in the 2014 episode "Females Only".
Brooks was also featured in the 2012 movie Modern Love and the 2013 movie Black Girls Rock!.
On May 27, 2015, the media announced that Brooks would make her Broadway debut in the 2015 revival of The Color Purple as Sofia. The musical opened on December 10 at the Bernard B. Jacobs, to critical acclaim. Brooks received praise for her performance, and received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 2016. In January 2017, Brook won the Grammy Awards for Best Musical Theater Album.
Brooks was also featured as the character Shanon in the 2015 episode "Indians on TV" of the series Master of None. She voices Comet in the pilot episode of Lasso & Comet.
On July 2, 2019, she announced that she was expecting her first child. Her daughter, Freeya Carel, was born on November 16, 2019.
- Brooks revealed in an interview that the fith season of Orange is the New Black will be set over a course of 3 days in prison.
- She also revealed that she almost turned down her role because for the first scene she was introduced with she had to be topless, which made her really nervous and wondering "is that the direction that I wanna go." But in hinsight she is glad that she didn't turn it down because it "has changed her life" and she is proud to be part of a series with strong female lead characters that so many people can relate to.
- Orange is the New Black's Danielle Brooks Just Gave Up the First Bit of Season 5 Scoop on the 2017 SAG Awards Red Carpet (Januar 29, 2017)