Performer of the Week: Uzo Aduba

A weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars


THE SHOW | Orange Is the New Black

THE EPISODE | “Hugs Can Be Deceiving”


THE PERFORMANCE | A garden rose by any other name, Aduba’s turn as Suzanne Warren (aka “Crazy Eyes”) has proved as engaging as ever in the series’ sophomore season, and in the Episode 3, we finally got the glimpse into her past we’ve wanted for some time.

First excluded by her friends during a game of Celebrity, then dismissed by Taystee after trying to strike up a conversation, Aduba made it clear that Suzanne’s skin was not as thick as it seemed, making her quiet acceptance of their treatment all the more heartbreaking.

Later, in a flashback to her high school graduation, Suzanne stood up on stage, unable to sing the song she’d prepared and Aduba showed us a teenager unable to fully express herself, instead resorting to the violent head-slapping that eventually becomes her response to failure.

This made her subsequent interaction with Vee all the more significant. Desperate for acceptance, the wild-eyed inmate practically electrocuted herself to get the older woman the pack of cigarettes she’d hidden years ago, and Aduba’s eyes shone with nothing but hope as she proudly presented her prison mother with the retrieved prize.

In those last few moments, as Vee served her cake and offered to re-do her hair, Aduba channeled Suzanne’s younger self, revealing a softness and quiet glee as she discovered something we knew all along: there’s so much more to her than her “Crazy Eyes.”

"Orphan Black" Ep 208 Day 6Photo: Jan Thijs 2013HONORABLE MENTION | When your costar is Tatiana Maslany, it can be tough to get the props you deserve. Such is the case with Orphan Black‘s unsung hero, Jordan Gavaris. On last Saturday’s episode, as Sarah’s lovable, witty foster brother Felix bonded with transclone Tony, Gavaris revealed a warmth and depth underneath Fee’s playful exterior, briefly stealing the spotlight from his castmate. (For the record, we totally get why Tony couldn’t stop himself from planting a kiss on Felix.)

HONORABLE MENTION | Rita Volk‘s performance in Tuesday’s season finale of MTV’s Faking It was the best kind of painful. After eight episodes of lying and hiding her true feelings, Volk’s Amy could no longer keep the floodgates closed, letting loose a torrent of emotions on best friend — but, sadly, not girlfriend — Karma. The desperation in Amy’s voice as she practically begged Karma to love her back was gut-wrenching and, more importantly, believable. It was like a younger, lesbian version of Meredith Grey’s “Pick me, choose me, love me.” And we do, Ms. Volk. We do!

What performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below and let us know!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. webly3 says:

    Uzo Aduba did a phenomenal job in season two. I am glad she was recognized.

  2. Why don’t you give Continuum the time of day, Michael? After the blockbuster episode they put on last night? Absolutely ridiculous that the mainstream tv critical media won’t even cast enough reviews to put the show on the Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic board?

    • wordsmith says:


    • Ari says:

      My goodness!!! STFU already.

    • Katie_Mead says:

      I watch Continuum too, and, for the most part, like it, although this current season seems to have lost the plot entirely, and is dropping below mediocrity from time to time. Despite enjoying Continuum somewhat, I see no performances in that series, that deserve to be placed anywhere near the tour-de-force performances that get some recognition in the PotW column. That’s not saying the cast doesn’t have it in them – some of them (MA & EK) most definitely do – but they have no chance to shine in this kind of series.

      Uzo Aduba, on the other hand, almost deserves this accolade for her recent performance with Funny or Die alone, never mind her excellent turns in OitNB. As for poor Felix, boyohboy, how confused he (the character, if not also the actor) must be feeling after meeting Tony!

      • Diz says:

        I agree. I will watch Continuum until the very end, but this season is just not good.

      • Josh says:

        It’s become a bit of a mess, hasn’t it? And I feel really no emotional connection to anything anymore, which is a shame since I was so attached season 1.

  3. You hit the nail on the head with Rita Volk! That performance was incredible. Hope we see her in more roles, and cant wait for season 2.

  4. Rose says:

    What about Eva Green on Penny Dreadful?? She was amazing!! She kept my eyes glued to the screen for a whole hour!!!

    • wordsmith says:

      If they hadn’t already nominated her a few weeks ago for the seance episode, she would have been a lock for this. The most recent episode was spectacular for her.

      • Rose says:

        Yes she was!! That’s why she deserved it again! Who says that an actor/actress can be nominated only once? Doesn’t seem fair to me!

        • Katie_Mead says:

          This insane (both figuratively & literally) performance might have been even more deserving than the one that got Eva Green her place in this column a couple of weeks back, but fair’s fair, you’ve gotta spread the lurve around among all the other more than competent actors around.

    • V says:

      YES! She totally blew everyone out of the water last week! I still can’t get last week’s episode out of my head. She was phenomenal!!

  5. Steven says:

    Rita Volk was absolutely amazing. Had me in tears and reminded me of when I came out to my best friend in high school. (He didn’t love me back either.)

  6. kitty says:

    I Luv…Luv…Orange is the New Black… one of the best series on Netflix…. crazy eyes and piper are my fav…. now have yo wait a whole year for season 3…..😓

  7. HAP says:

    I’m not commenting on the caliber of performances. What I do see is somewhat of a conflict with the term Performer of the Week for an episode of a show that dumped all thirteen episodes at once on June 6.

    That said, I have read more than one entertainment reviewer’s comment that Netflix ought to release their shows one episode per week, allowing the viewer to absorb each episode entirely.

    And, let’s not forget, that if you binge watch these shows, it just means you will have to wait all the longer to see the next season.

  8. meah says:

    I don’t watch OITNB so I can’t really speak on it.
    Rita killed it on faking it this week,she’s such a good actress without over acting her scenes.Amy(her character)needs to listen to Not in that way by sam smith loool.
    Jordan is good on orphan black,so am not shocked to see him here

  9. N says:

    I like Crazy! I don’t post here as much

  10. Rachelle says:

    Yes on Aduba and yes on Volk! Just stellar performances by both actresses. Aduba was a rockstar during season 2 of Orange. And Volk just killed that Faking It finale.

  11. Britta Unfiltered says:

    It’s fun that you guys would pick someone from a Netflix show even though they don’t have traditional air dates. Kudos. Yeah, Suzanne is a super interesting character. She does a good job with that show. She had a very organic arc for season two. I didn’t think i liked it at first, because funny Crazy Eyes is better than violent Crazy Eyes to me, but I think it was all good. Of course Suzanne would beat up Poussey because Vee wanted her to. Vee was her substitute mom. Suzanne was very protective. It was all a very natural progression for her character. I’m bugged we still don’t know what her crime was though.

  12. RyanC says:

    Absolutely agree with this. She’s been able to show so much versatility as an actress. I’d also have to give it to Yael Stone who plays Morello, because her episode was absolutely heartbreaking.

  13. Uzo had a phenomenal season, and I can’t wait to see more layers of her character in season three (agonizing that it’s a year away now)!! But thank you for recognizing Jordan Gavaris. I tune in as much for Felix as I do for Maslany’s clones – Gavaris has crafted such a perfect role.

  14. Aimee says:

    Aduba really killed it in season 2. Although I was very unhappy with the direction the show took regarding her character (no spoilers) I can still say she did a tremendous job with what she was given. 10 seconds of her acting with a mop was better than 70% of anything else you will see on TV this year.

  15. V says:

    The fact that Penny Dreadful never gets enough love from TvLine and consequently its actors (Eva Green in particular) is ridiculous and not surprising that she wasn’t given the Performer of the Week honor, regardless if she was a runner-up before. A GREAT performance should ALWAYS be commended!!!

  16. Rosy says:

    I came back to this post to see if Eva Green was actually performer of the week back then..because I just watched this episodes of Penny Dreadful and I’m literally BLOWN AWAY…can she please get more Emmy buzz next year? She deserves a nomination!