'Orange is the New Black': Danielle Brooks, star of hot Netflix series, is one sizzling black actress to watch

theGRIO REPORT - The young actress who plays the lovable character Taystee on the Netflix original series 'Orange is the New Black' spoke to theGrio fresh from the 65th annual Emmys...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Actress Danielle Brooks turned more than a few heads with her Emmy Awards style. Her orange gown was absolutely stunning on the red carpet.

“I like to wear what feels good and looks good,” the thespian said. “I don’t get caught up with name brand stuff. Find colors that work well for your skin tone and take time to choose the proper under garments,” she added with a laugh.

Still giddy from the high of that night, the young actress who plays the lovable character Taystee on the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black (OITNB) spoke to theGrio fresh from the 65th annual awards show.

A young actress living her dreams

“The Emmys were a dream come true!” Brooks said. “I got to meet Kerry Washington, which was really cool.”

Yes, Brooks was present for the controversial upset in which Kerry Washington, star of Scandal, lost to Claire Danes for Best Actress.

“I try not to get involved in all of that stuff, but I was really rooting for her,” Brooks said of Washington. “I think, when it’s time, it’ll be the right time.”

It’s clear that at 23, and straight out of the storied arts institution of Julliard, Brook’s time has come. This dynamic actress is undoubtedly enjoying her new-found success.

The sweet challenges of her role

We get a glimpse of Brook’s impressive range, on the show adapted from Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name, which chronicles her experience in a women’s prison.  In her role as the colorful Taystee, while swaggering about Brooks makes us laugh. She also tugs at our heart strings, as we watch the befuddled character sabotage herself.

The role was exciting for Brooks, because the character has real depth, defying the stereotypical depictions of women in prison we see too often.

“My first impression [of Taystee] was that she seemed like a really amazing woman just trying to figure out how to be a woman,” Brooks said. “She is really trying to make the most of the cards she’s been dealt.”

New to the big time, remaining humble

Unfazed by her talent and success, the young ingénue is unfailingly humble.

“I’m so grateful,” Brooks gushed. “In this business, I understand there will be periods where I don’t work. Right now I’m focused on working extremely hard so I can get to the point where people reach out to me for roles. I have a strong work ethic. I want to get to the level of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.”

Many are calling the recent wave in African-American themes and characters in film and television a renaissance in black representation. As part of a new guard of dynamic African-American actors on television, she also recognizes that she bears a responsibility to future generations.

“Ultimately, as an actress, I want to do exciting work,” Brooks mused, “but at the same time I know I have a responsibility as a woman of color to the next generation to do my best, so the door gets opened even wider. There are a range of women who have done that for me, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly.”

A rising star of the small screen

As her star rises, it seems as though Brooks will soon have her pick of roles. She is currently filming the second season of OITNB as a series regular, with an appearance on the hit HBO series GIRLS in the works — a subject she is very tight-lipped about. Brooks will be the first woman of color on the show.

So what does the future hold? This talented young woman’s vision knows no bounds.

“I’d love to do a movie or headline my own Broadway show. I have really big aspirations. But, even those aspirations can be limiting. If you asked me two years ago, if I’d see myself on a billboard in Time Square or be on one of the hottest shows, I wouldn’t have dreamed of it. Now I feel like the sky is the limit. I try not to be too detailed in my plans, because I don’t want to limit how far God can take me.”

It’s been an exciting story so far. We certainly intend to keep watching.

Chase Quinn is a New York City-based culture writer. Follow Chase on Twitter at @chasebquinn.