Last week, Orange Is The New Black‘s Danielle Brooks paid a visit to Rikers Island to pay a special visit to some of the female inmates!
The actress, reeling from another successful season of the show, visited the Rose M. Singer Center and met with members of the jail’s first book club! The book club is a part of the One Book program, created by the Mayor’s Office in NYC. While there, Danielle read from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, which is what the inmates along with other New Yorkers have been reading. From there, the actress, joined by Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin, then sparked a real and honest discussion with the ladies about race, identity and pressures to conform.
Danielle admitted that, though she shoots a show about a prison, she’s never actually been in one. However, she took time to encourage the women to see themselves as more than just inmates behind bars. ” “It’s important to remind people that you are daughters and mothers and sisters — to not just look at you as criminals,” she said. “You have a story. And we (on the show) are doing our damnedest to tell that story as authentically as we know how. You are not forgotten!”
In light of this past intense season of OITNB, this visit was truly perfect for Danielle. Her character, Taystee, helped lead an uprising at the fictional Litchfield prison after losing her best friend, Poussey, at the hands of a guard. This season, and Danielle’s powerful performance, mirrored real life in America and opened up the doors for more discussion and, hopefully, actions to be taken against police brutality and race relations in the country!