Danielle Brooks Has an Oscar Nomination. So Why Is She in Mourning?

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Everything went out the window. I couldn’t remember the notes to the song. I was so terrified and nervous that I actually walked out. I said, “I’m sorry, but this is not the best of me. I would hate for you all to think this is how I am as an artist.” As soon as that happened, I cried my little eyeballs out, I was just devastated, but I went straight into singing and dance lessons so that when I came into my next audition, I would be ready. And then my next Broadway audition was with that same casting director and it was for “Color Purple.”

A good lesson for a working actor.

Even now, being more seasoned, sometimes you think things are going to go in your favor and they don’t. I did not get the “Piano Lesson” movie and I was disheartened because I put in the time onstage and nobody came to me. I didn’t understand why. Hearing a no from people that I truly respect, it made me second-guess myself. But that’s when I had to do some really deep work and understand, “You have to know your worth, Danielle.”

The reason I share that is because sometimes your rejection has to do with other people finding their path, and I think that’s what that moment truly was. God was saying, “I need to move you out of the way so I can position Danielle Deadwyler for whatever I have for her.” And I can receive that because now here I am, a few months later, Oscar-nominated. So there’s still wins, you know what I mean?

Do you remember the last day you played Sofia on Broadway? Did you ever think you’d get another crack at the character?

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I thought that was the end, so that was definitely an emotional day. I had played her for a year of my life, eight shows a week, and learned so much about myself and had these magical experiences with the audience that I didn’t want to let go of. Then I kept hearing that they were going to make a movie, so I just kept one eye open, hoping I could maybe scoot in there.

But you know what was tough? When I sang “Hell No!” for the last time on set in this version. When Blitz Bazawule called cut and said that’s a wrap on “Hell No!” that’s when I got emotional. When else will I get a chance to sing this song? I’ve done it on Broadway, I’ve done it in the movie. I think this truly is the end of this moment.

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