Danielle Brittany Brooks
Danie, Taystee (character name OITNB)
Augusta, Georgia, USA
Brooklyn, New York City, USA
She switched her middle school to study at an arts middle school and then finished her freshman and sophomore years of study at Hillcrest High Public school.
Danielle auditioned for admission to the residential drama program of Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and got in. It involved 2 years of intensive drama study apart from a standard high school curriculum.
A strong foundation in her area of study won her a place in the prestigious Juilliard School, New York City. She studied for a BA in Drama and graduated in 2011.
Actress, Clothing Designer, Body positive activist
- Father – Dea. Dunnel Brooks (Deacon)
- Mother – Rev. LaRita Brooks (Minister, Elementary School Teacher, Student Development Assistant Director at Bethlehem Baptist Church)
- Siblings – Donnie Brooks aka DJ (Younger Brother)
Danielle is repped by –
- Jill McGrath and Rebecca Atwood, Door 24 Entertainment, New York
- Innovative Artists, New York
5 ft 4 in or 162.5 cm
75 kg or 165 lbs
Boyfriend / Girlfriend / Spouse
Danielle is extremely private about her romantic life and has never dated anybody publicly.
- Nneka Onuorah (2015) – There was speculation for a brief period that she dated film producer, director and dancer Nneka for a while and broke up in 2015.
Race / Ethnicity
She has African-American ancestry.
She could be lesbian or bisexual.
- Broad face
- Dimpled cheeks
Her vital statistics are subject to change since Danielle follows a very active and hectic lifestyle. According to a 2016 interview, her most likely measurements in that year were 42-33-44 in or 107-84-112 cm.
14 (US) or 18 (UK) or 46 (EU)
- She was a part of the “I’m no Angel” campaign for Lane Bryant lingerie (2016–2017).
- She formerly participated in a Dove campaign while criticizing their 2017 commercial.
- In 2017, Danielle designed and promoted a clothing line called Tria in collaboration with Universal Standard.
- She served as the Guest Creative Director in collaboration with Refinery29 to put together stock images of plus-sized women on Getty Images, under the campaign The 67% Collection.
She attends the First Corinthian Baptist Church, New York.
Best Known For
- Playing the role of Tasha Jefferson aka Taystee in the Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black (OITNB).
- Winning critical acclaim and Tony Award nomination for her Broadway debut in the musical called The Color Purple (2015–2017).
Danielle made her theatrical film debut as a receptionist in the 2014 drama movie Time Out of Mind.
First TV Show
She made her television show debut as Tasha Jefferson/Taystee in Orange is the New Black in 2013.
- Danielle was plus sized ever since she achieved puberty. Throughout her high school years, one of her personal goals was to weigh less than 200 lbs. Although she has achieved a major milestone in weight loss, her focus has shifted away from the scale and other measurements.
- Her priority now is to get healthier and stronger for which she sets actionable goals such as running a 5k or consistently running a mile every day. She can run a mile on the treadmill in 15 minutes. Brooks also enjoys other cardiovascular activities such as rock climbing, boxing and spin classes at Soulcycle.
- She is trained by Ashley Graham’s trainer, Morit Summers who is an inspirational plus-sized personal trainer. Danielle spends at least 3 sessions with her every week. Model and actress, Julie Henderson is Danielle’s regular workout buddy.
- While growing up, her staple food consumption comprised of cornbread and chicken. As a health-conscious adult, Brooks prioritizes consuming fruits, vegetables, and protein. In August 2017, Danielle shared on social media that she has taken up a vegan diet. Danielle does not drink coffee at all.
Danielle Brooks Favorite Things
- Meal She Can Cook – Baked Salmon over Asparagus with rice or quinoa
- New York City Spot – 67 Orange Street, Harlem
- NYC Restaurants – Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Habana Outpost, Blue Dog Kitchen
- Snacks – Apple, Tangerine
- Ear Plug Brand – Happy Plugs
- Bottled Water Brand – Voss
- Face Wipes Brand – Cetaphil, Aveeno
- Facewash – Cetaphil
- Moisturizer – Mary Kay’s TimeWise moisturizer
- Childhood Memory – Winning $10 at church raffle
- Summer Tradition – Hanging out with friends at Central Park, New York City
- Guilty Pleasure – Chocolate
- Chocolate Brand – Godiva Dark Chocolate Truffles
- Activity To Unwind – Bubble bath listening to Jazz Music
- Words Of Advice – “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me—no fear “ (said by Nina Simone)
- Karaoke Song – “Wannabe” by Spice Girls
- Cardio Equipment – Stair Stepper
- Childhood Author – Sharon G. Flake
- Childhood Singer – India Arie Simpson
- Party Game – Taboo
- Blog – Hi – I am Currently Obsessed
- Female Role Model – Whoopi Goldberg
Danielle Brooks Facts
- She started acting at the age of 6 playing ‘baby girl’ in a black nativity play at her church in her hometown.
- Danielle was raised in a small rural town of Simpsonville, 20 minutes away from the city of Greenville, South Carolina and was actively involved in the theatre group at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Her mother put her in various local Youth Arts programs at Greenville’s Children’s Theater and Warehouse Theatre.
- Danielle used to be oblivious to her excess weight in her teens until a woman from her church pointed towards the stretch marks on her arms and made her feel conscious about her body.
- Once the negative spiral of low self-esteem started, Danielle started avoiding acting on her mother’s suggestion to go for a walk in the neighborhood to get some exercise because she did not want other boys to make fun of her weight.
- Acting classes gave her the much-needed respite from self-judgment and a platform for uninhibited self-expression.
- Auditioning for the Governor’s School Arts program required monologue recitation. Danielle had no idea at that time what a monologue was and performed a sonnet and a poem by Steve Williams, but still got in.
- Brooks was once cast as a male Reverend even though there was a stereotypical role of a black slave woman in the same play organized in Governor’s School. That was the defining moment she realized her work can rise far beyond what is dictated by gender or appearance.
- Her audition monologues for Juilliard School were from August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale.
- Despite graduating from Juilliard, Danielle had to face more than a year of several rejections before finding work as an actor.
- The awareness about clothing and style that Danielle gained as an actress motivated her to turn into a clothing designer. During her student years, she struggled to find good clothes that fit well. Using her creativity, she wanted to offer interesting options to other plus-sized women.
- Angolan actress, Joaquina Kalukango is Danielle’s best friend and former Juilliard roommate.
- The original production of The Color Purple (2005–2008) was also the first Broadway show Brooks saw at the age of 15.
- She lovingly refers to black women as ‘chocolate’ girls.
- One of the reasons Danielle trains hard is because she would like to work in Hollywood action movies someday.
- She is very religious and always starts her day listening to a gospel.
- In the fall of 2015, Brooks was juggling her role at Orange is the New Black and rehearsals for The Color Purple by working from 4 am to 12 pm.
- Danielle’s parents were initially not happy about her casting in OITNB because she had to perform a topless scene in the very 1st episode.
- She was cast only for 2 episodes of OITNB and was promoted to a recurring character and then to a series regular.
- She likes collecting playbills and postcards.
- Danielle’s parents had placed an order for a painting by Greenville artist, April Harrison as her opening night present for The Color Purple.
- She is a believer of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and likes to write down her goals in order to manifest them.
- In 2016, Brooks expressed her annoyance on Twitter when flight ticketing agents unknowingly praised Danielle for traveling in business class because they implied she did not look like she could afford it.
- She has a secret talent of making balloon animals and can also weave elaborate backstories for all the characters she creates.
- Danielle gave voice to the character of Olive Blue in The Angry Birds Movie (2016).
- She was so delighted when a passerby asked for a picture with her for the first time in London that she took another photo with him for her memory as well.
- To know more about the actress, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Featured Image by Peabody Awards / Flickr / CC BY-2.0