Uzo Aduba announces death of her mother: ‘She remains my hero’

"I am proud to know that it’s her blood running through my veins"

Uzo Aduba celebrated her mother’s birthday with a heartfelt tribute on Twitter in which she also revealed that her mom died in November after a cancer battle. 

Sharing a sweet photo of her and her mom Nonyem together, the Nigerian-American actress wrote, “My Mommy, the best thing that has ever happened to me. She left her earthly body this past November to be with God after a valiant and gracious fight with cancer. She was and remains my hero; I am proud to know that it’s her blood running through my veins. Today is her birthday.” 

A follow-up tweet featured another photo of mom and daughter along with the caption “I miss her. So much. It’s taken me this long to even know how to begin to share just how remarkable a woman, a mother she was. Mommy, I love and miss you every day. Happy Heavenly Birthday.”

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In a third tweet, Aduba noted that her mother “had SPUNK,” and “If you asked her what it was she admired about someone, her reason usually landed on, “because… she’s spunky! She’s not afraid!” And afraid my mom was not,” she added.

“My mom worked HARD, and in so doing encouraged the best out of each of her children. “I’ve never heard of nothing coming from hard work,” an expression often trumpeted by my mother, meant to nudge us all a step closer to our hearts’ greatest desires,” Aduba continued. 

“My mom loved her family fiercely. Both the biological & the chosen. She would say “don’t you know I’m your #1 fan,” always with a trace of pretend surprise in her voice; as if to suggest “you didn’t know?!” But of course, we always did,” she wrote. 

Aduba has publicly gushed about her mother ever since her breakout role in Orange is the New Black. During an interview with Larry King in 2018, she said: “[My mom] used to say to me and my siblings, ‘My American dream is for you to be able to live your dream because this is the only country that can do that.’”

When Aduba was tapped to play civil rights activist Shirley Chisholm in the Hulu miniseries Ms. America, she credited her mother for being the inspiration she needed to fully embody the real-life cultural hero. 

“I knew she was a force for justice and change, mainly because my mother was passionate about it,” Aduba previously told Newsweek.

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“When we were little, my mom would say to us, ‘I never knew there was anything wrong with being Black — until I moved America,” she explained to the Boston Globe in April 2020.  “I never thought something was impossible for me to be or do,’ ” she says. “How she perceived herself versus how this new world perceived her was entirely different. So I understood why my mother connected with Shirley because she could see herself and her own struggle in Shirley.”

Aduba’s mother was a social worker who earned two master’s degrees and survived the genocide of the Nigerian civil war in the late 1960s.

“I could anchor this woman in many parallels with my mother, because Shirley did not feel embarrassed by its sex or its race,” Aduba continued. “She didn’t see them as obstacles to what she could accomplish.”

Aduba is best known for playing the character of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in the hit Netflix drama series Orange is the New Black, for which she won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2015. She also bagged two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance of an Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014 and 2015.

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