“If grateful paid the bills, we’d all be Bill Gates,” says Black Cindy in one of the most memorable lines from season 2 of Orange is the New Black. To say that the hit Netflix original series has really taken off might be something of an understatement. The show, based on Piper Kerman’s true story about her incarceration at Litchfield Prison in upstate New York, along with its richly talented and robustly diverse cast received 12 Emmy nominations—winning the hearts and minds of viewers and critics alike. Who is the actress behind Black Cindy’s impeccable comedic timing? It’s The New School for Drama alumna, Adrienne C. Moore (MFA Acting ’09).
Inspired by The New School’s commitment to social justice, creativity and innovation, and by her professors’ dedication to these same ideals, Moore looks for more than just a good story when choosing her roles. She looks for scripts, like Orange is The New Black and her most recent off-Broadway engagement, Ethel Sings, that speak to the social conscience and human spirit. “Every play, script and story shouldn’t just be for entertainment,” Moore says. “It should have a message; it should teach us a lesson.”
As Black Cindy, the fearless and unapologetic inmate with a lot of heart, Moore confidently delivers snappy one-liners, often speaking the unabashed, brazen truth with a lot of comedic effect. When asked where she nurtured her artistic confidence, she fondly reflects on her time at The New School and the path that led her here.
Moore attributes her stage presence and confidence to the many lessons she learned from drama faculty members like Robert Walden, Marcia Haufrecht, and Ron Leibman during her CoLab courses. “They taught me how to strengthen my inner voice and rely on my intuition, “ she says. “They taught me to be a warrior for my art, industry and craft.” She also applauds professors, like Haufrecht, who instilled in her the importance of knowing the history and social context behind every play and playwright, a tool she uses to critically engage in her work today.
Raised in Nashville, Tennessee and later Atlanta, Georgia, Moore developed a flair for acting in community theater at a young age, citing her breakout ensemble role in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at six years old. After graduating from Northwestern University and at the crux of a career in marketing, she decided to take a leap and fiercely pursue acting as a profession. Moore chose The New School for Drama as her learning environment of choice.
“I knew I had to be in New York City,” says Moore. “I wanted the formal education that The New School had to offer, and I also wanted the street education of the city.”
Despite earning her first off-Broadway New York theater credit with The 24 Hour Company just two weeks after moving to the city, Moore learned that opportunities don’t always come so easily. “The struggle to find work will either consume you or make you hungry,” she says, explaining her hunger for opportunity. During her three years in the MFA acting program, she channeled this hunger into honing her technique while performing titles such as Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Henrik Ibsen’s The Pillars of Society and William Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well on The New School stage.
In an effort to address the under representation of women of color on stage and on screen, Moore is making it a point to inspire the next generation of minority actresses. She, along with other New School alumnae, regularly return to campus and talk with a group of minority students about the challenges they face in the industry. Using her own struggles and experiences as a testament to the value of hard work and resilience, Moore seeks to reflect the realities of her fellow minority actors and provide encouragement.
Her advice for budding drama students and actors? Stay hungry. “Every experience has its purpose,” she says. “Look for the lesson in those experiences and use it to fuel your next opportunity.”
Read more about The New School for Drama at http://www.newschool.edu/drama/.