[Editor's note: This article was originally published in December 2015. Danielle Brooks is now a 2016 Tony Award nominee.]
Danielle Brooks is exhausted.
Is the New Black actress is busy splitting her time -- what little of it
exists to begin with -- between filming the fourth season of the Netflix series,
in which she plays fan favorite Taystee, and singing her heart out in the revival of The Color Purple, which opens at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in New York City on Dec. 10. She’s a
scene-stealer as Sofia -- a role famously played by Oprah Winfrey in Steven Spielberg’s
Oscar-nominated screen adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel -- opposite Jennifer
Hudson and London star Cynthia Erivo. To make it even more stressful, all three stars are making their Broadway debuts this week.
WATCH: Jennifer Hudson and Her Co-Stars Ready for Their Broadway Debuts in 'The Color Purple'
On an average day, the 26-year-old is on set by 5 a.m. to
shoot new scenes for OITNB. The show
keeps her occupied until 2 p.m., before heading directly to rehearsals for The Color Purple. The rest of the cast
has already been there since noon. By 5 p.m., everything wraps, letting Brooks take
in a meal and a power nap. She’s then back to the theatre for the night’s
performance (her call time is 7:20 p.m. and then its places at 8 p.m.). The
musical goes until 10:20 p.m. From there it’s a matter of getting home after
greeting throngs of fans to memorize lines for the next day’s shoot. Brooks is
in bed shortly after midnight. “Sometimes I'm lucky enough to wake up a little
bit later,” she says of her 4:25 a.m. wake-up call.
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On a Friday afternoon in November, I meet up with Brooks to
briefly chat about her stage role. She’s just wrapped a morning of press,
opting to stand for the duration of our conversation. Any signs of exhaustion
are hidden behind a big smile and a team of makeup and hair stylists, who
fiddle with her hair as she chats with me.