NEW YORK (WABC) --Most people know Danielle Brooks as one of the stars of the hit show "Orange Is The New Black," but now, Broadway audiences know her as Sophia in the musical version of "The Color Purple."
Life has come full circle for the Juilliard trained actress, who was born in South Carolina. But a trip to Broadway in 2005 changed her life. She saw the original production of "The Color Purple," and a decade later, she is starring in the revival.
"When you go beyond that dream that you dreamed for yourself, that's the greatest feeling in the world," she said.
New Yorkers first got a glimpse of her talent in productions at the famed school, and returning to her roots was a fittingly nostalgic experience.
"This place gives you all of the tools to be the best actor you can be," she said.
Before getting her first acting job, Brooks worked for the school as a painter. Now, she returns to inspire those who hope to follow in her footsteps.
"It's crazy to know you have made a difference," she said. "And have people look up to you."
She feared she'd never make it, until she found a home at Taystee on "Orange Is The New Black." And she offers simple advice to those who hope to emulate her road to success.
"Don't try to follow anyone else's path," she said. "Be inspired by others, but find your own path."
The star also credits her mom with encouraging her, and her father for taking her to see "The Color Purple."