Orange Is the New Black: Before They Were Stars

Netflix / Boston University

Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren
Uzo Aduba started her acting career in theater. She got rave reviews for her Broadway debut in Cornam Boy and was a featured member of the original revival cast of Godspell at the Circle in the Square Theatre. But before acting, Aduba had her sights set on the world of sports. She attended Boston University, where she studied classical voice and was stand-out athlete on the track and field team.

Netflix / 20th Century Fox

Lori Petty as Lolly Whitehill
Lori Petty has one of the more extensive lists of acting credits to her name. Her first memorable television gig was in 1989 playing a co-lead role in Richard Grieco’s Booker, but her career kicked into high gear in 1991 when she secured the female lead in Point Break, starring Keanu Reeves. Petty is also remembered for her role as Kit Keller in A League of Their Own, but her lead role in Tank Girl earned her a cult following, thanks to the movie’s strong feminist themes.

Netflix / People

Dascha Polanco as Dayanara Diaz
Dascha Polanco always had aspirations of becoming an actress, but because she thought her build would keep her from getting roles, she went to nursing school and managed an instrument room at a Bronx hospital. Eventually, the actress joined an acting troupe, and scored small roles on Unforgettable and NYC 22She went on to star in two movies, The Cobbler and Gimmie Shelter, before securing one of OITNB‘s key roles, Dayanara Diaz.

Netflix / ABC

Elizabeth Rodriguez as Aleida Diaz
Before she played the imperfect, yet protective prison mother, she was getting nominated for a long list of awards. Rodriguez was nominated for a Tony for “Best Featured Actress In a Play” for her work in The Mother****** with the Hat. Before that, she appeared in New York Undercover in 1994. She then moved on to appearing in a few episodes of OZ and Trinity before playing the role of Martha Oliveras in the movie, Blow.