Danielle Brooks found inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement while playing Taystee in “OITNB”
If you’re a fan of Orange Is the New Black (and who isn’t?) you might have noticed that Taystee, played by Danielle Brooks, has grown tremendously since the start of the show. And while Brooks has always been a talented actress, she’s managed to make Taystee one of the most lovable, relatable characters in all of Litchfield.
You can give credit to the Black Lives Matter movement for making some of her scenes this season so electric.
If you haven’t made it through season five, be prepared — since this may be a spoiler. Right in the midst of the riot, Taystee manages to take the spotlight away from celebrity Judy King, who has paparazzi waiting outside for her, and give an incredible speech about what Litchfield has turned into — as well as giving justice towards her best friend.
Trying hard to preserve the memory of her best friend Poussey, who was accidentally killed, Taystee vowed to make people remember that her life mattered.
"That speech very much is about not having someone speak for you. I feel like that wasn't just another moment for Taystee — [it was her] stepping into her power to ultimately help the greater good and to help what she's fighting for," Brooks said to Entertainment Tonight. "They did that day; I felt supported in that speech."
Brooks said that she felt inspired by the story of Diamond Reynolds, who live-streamed the unfortunate and unsettling shooting of her boyfriend, Philando Castile. In the video, Reynolds was unafraid to stand up for justice, and narrated the tragedy with such a strong and powerful voice.
"I remember specifically watching this young black woman speak so eloquently without foul language, without cussing anybody, just with such grace and dignity and pride and strength," Brooks said. "She didn't call on her lawyer to speak for her, just like Taystee wasn't calling on Judy King to speak for her. She could do it."
We can’t applaud Brooks more for channeling such real, terrifying events into her performance. We hope that Taystee’s scenes, this scene especially, prove that you should never be afraid to use your voice.