But then she found out she landed her iconic role on Orange Is the New Black.

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Uzo Aduba Ladies First With Laura Brown
Credit: Robert Maxwell

Uzo Aduba is proving that 40 is the new 25, because she's just getting started. On this week's episode of Ladies First with Laura Brown, the Orange is the New Black star got candid turning 40 and how much she loves it.

"I'm new to the team, but I think I like the play," she tells InStyle's editor in chief Laura Brown about turning 40. "I really love it. I was like, 'I can't wait to turn 40.' I remember being 25 and whether it was actors that I would work with or family members or whatever friends along the way I've watched turn 40, there's just something, badassery in there."

Although it's evident that the actress is 40 years young, she still possesses wisdom that only comes with experience, like knowing when to own her shit, what's important in life, and that "ambition" is not a dirty word.

"I think a lot of times, women in particular have been made to feel like they should shy away from that word," she explains. "They want to reach aggressively, go for what it is that they [have] dreamt of. And it's not a bad thing."

Aduba reveals that she's ambitious for "producing, directing and leading stories," as well as philanthropy, particularly in her home country of Nigeria. And she somehow manages to achieve all of those things, as well as fit not one, but two workouts in before the start of the workday. (No, really.)

"The first part of my day is entirely for myself," she tells Brown. "I wake up and I carve out personally, purposely, three-and-a-half hours that are just mine."

She describes her average morning to Brown, saying that she starts her day with a meditation before taking her dog, Fenway Bark, on a 45-minute walk, followed by a Peloton ride with her two friends from college.

Uzo Aduba Does More Before 9 a.m. Than We Do All Week: Episode 37: August 16, 2021

InStyle Ladies First with Laura Brown

Duration: 34 minutes

This podcast may contain cursing that would not be appropriate for listeners under 14. Discretion is advised.

While ending the stigma of an ambitious women may still have a ways to go, the actress has seemed to always exude and embrace her dreams and desires. For starters, she nearly became a lawyer before deciding that she wanted to dip her toe in the acting and performing pond. So, she got herself a team and started in theater before being encouraged by her manager to try out film and TV.

As any actor will tell you, the audition process is long, grueling, and brutal. Aduba was about to throw in the towel on auditioning literal moments before receiving the good news that she received a part for a little show called Orange is the New Black.

"I was on the train crying — that kind of cry you see on the subway," she explains. "I'm weeping, and I just said to myself, 'I give up, I'm done.'"

She added that she had decided in her head that she would go back to law school and drown her sorrows in sushi and wine (so New York). That is, until she got the call that would change her life.

"They're like, 'You remember that audition you went on for Orange is the New Black?' Remember that part you went out for? Okay, you didn't get it, but they'd like to offer you another part,'" she recalls of the phone call. "And I was beyond my comprehension. So, my wine-and-sushi pity party turned into a wine-and-sushi celebration party."

What started as a two- to three-episode arc turned into the iconic and beloved character Suzanna "Crazy Eyes," which would win Aduba three Emmy Awards, as well as open the door to countless opportunities to launch her now fruitful career. Which just goes to show that a little bit of ambition, hard work, owning your shit, and, of course, badassery can take you anywhere.

"This is where I stand," she says, "This is my lane. This is what I'm giving, and you're not going to tell me that I should do or be less."

Listen to the full episode and subscribe on ApplePlayerFMSpotifyStitcher, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. And tune in weekly to Ladies First with Laura Brown hosted by InStyle's editor in chief Laura Brown, who speaks to guests like Michelle Pfeiffer, Emily RatajkowskiCynthia Erivo, Naomi Watts, La La Anthony, Ellen Pompeo, Rep. Katie Porter, and more to discuss current events, politics, some fashion, and, most importantly, the major firsts in their lives.