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Adrienne C. Moore’s Brief But Spectacular take on the characters in her life

Transcript

Judy Woodruff: Tonight's Brief But Spectacular features performer Adrienne C. Moore, an actress best known for her role in "Orange Is the New Black."

She opens up here about pulling characters from her upbringing in Atlanta and the impact her father had on her.

This is part of Canvas, our continuing covering of arts and culture.

Adrienne C. Moore: What I love about acting and being in front of people is, honestly, seeing their expressions.

My first production that I can remember was "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" in Nashville, Tennessee. I had no lines, just the little chorus parts. But that gave me a chance to look at every single person in the audience during the show and seeing them smile, and laugh, and have feelings and emotions.

And from that moment on, I said, I want to do this for the rest of my life.

"Orange Is the New Black" came about just like any other audition. They called me in for Black Cindy. Immediately, when I read it, I said, oh, my gosh, I know this girl. To me, she represented a lot of girls that I had run across when I'd moved to Atlanta, just very fiery and speak their minds, and pop their fingers, and roll their eyes, and roll their heads, and just tell their truth.

And so, when I read her, I said, I think I could embody her pretty well.

Of course she ain't smiling. She got screwed by me, by -- by everybody. Suzanne, everything is broken and life is unfair. When are you going to learn that?

The play that I did in Shakespeare in the Park was called "Taming of the Shrew." I got to work with Phyllida Lloyd, who is a phenomenal director. And I was always afraid of Shakespeare, iambic pentameter, and just going up on a line and all that kind of stuff.

But she really taught me how to own the language and, in that ownership, how to own the character. And once I got past that fear, I had the most amazing time.

What was so revolutionary about that experience was that I lost my dad literally in the same time that I was doing that show. And so I was experiencing incredible highs and incredible lows at the same time.

But one of the things that my dad taught me and told me before he passed was happiness. And so that's the thing that I always try to embody in my work and in my life and in who I am.

I feel like, when I'm in the pocket with something, I will sometimes hear this little chime or this a little ding somewhere off in the distance, and I feel like it's my dad being like, you got it. You're on the point, girl.

My dad was very proud of me, of his children, because one of the things he always said was, do what makes you happy. And a lot of times, when I get in very confusing places in my life, and I don't know what choice to make, I always think about what he said, which is, do what makes you happy.

And so that's how I make my decisions. I don't question. I just go inside of myself. And I say, well, what will make me happy in this moment? Because that's what my dad taught me.

My name is Adrienne C. Moore, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on all the characters of my life.

Judy Woodruff: And you can watch additional Brief But Spectacular episodes on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.

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