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Crazy Eyes, Esq.? 'Orange Is the New Black' star Uzo Aduba nearly left acting for law

Aug. 4, 2014 at 10:13 AM ET

With a plum role on the hit Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” and now an Emmy nomination under her belt, it’s hard to believe Uzo Aduba ever doubted her future in showbiz. But the actress, who has turned Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren into one of the small screen’s most memorable characters, says not too long ago she nearly walked away from acting.

Aduba took a break from filming season three of the dark prison comedy to talk with TODAY’s Tamron Hall about her personal struggles in the entertainment industry.

"The day — the very day — I got this job, I had quit acting about an hour beforehand,” Aduba recalled. “I said, 'Enough.’ I had been trying for (TV roles) and been hearing no. … It took a lot out of me.”

Aduba had originally auditioned for another role on “Orange,” she said. As weeks went by with no word from the show’s producers, she felt increasingly discouraged and began to consider off-camera careers.

“I just started thinking to myself, You know, some of my family is from Nigeria. I don't want to waste this dream,” Aduba said. “My mom worked really hard to come here. … And I just thought to myself, Should I go, y’know, my mom always wanted me to be a lawyer."

Aduba eventually learned that she didn’t get the part on “Orange” — but was being offered the role of Crazy Eyes instead.

“I was like, ‘Who?’” Aduba laughed. “But now I know Suzanne. … I know her so well. And I don't know; I can't imagine it another way.”

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