Uzo Aduba, who plays the indomitable Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on Orange Is the New Black penned an essay for The Daily Beast today chronicling the origin of her name and how its meaning has helped her persevere in the face of struggle. So basically, the spirit of Audre Lorde tiptoed into her bedroom late one night, placed a single ghost-finger on Uzo’s third eye, and gently coaxed this essay into existence.
She writes that her full name — Uzoamaka — means “the road is good” in Igbo, and details her mother’s doggedness in the face of polio and genocide to become a Women’s Tennis Champion. The essay reads, in part:
Knowing that postwar Nigeria could not provide the life that my mother wanted for her children and herself, she fought to return to the U.S.—and with the help of family and friends, she did. A single mother of two, my mom completed her first master’s degree, got remarried, and, by the grace of God, became pregnant at a later stage with her third child…me.
Her entire road to that point — the struggles, the trials, the battles and the losses — somehow brought her to fulfillment upon the arrival of her new daughter, whom she named Uzoamaka. The road is good.
I left my home in Massachusetts after college to move to New York City to pursue my dreams of acting. I took roles for free. I waited tables. I didn’t care because it was work. My uncle once told me, “Your parents didn’t leave Nigeria for you to just be standing still, Uzo.” These words resonated with me long after I had first heard them, and I took them to heart. I jumped at any available opportunity to practice my craft. I would not allow my mother’s journey to be in vain.
If you need a Monday afternoon soul-stirrer, you can read the essay in its entirety here.