Aduba, known for her portrayal as “Crazy Eyes” in the hit Netflix series, tells PEOPLE she didn’t make the cut after an open audition for Rent.
“[I] went to an open call they had in Boston for a production, [and I] waited all day in this long line,” she recalls. “I sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and they were like, ‘Thank you, next,’ ” she humorously recalls about her rapid dismissal.
Despite the rejection, the long-running Broadway rock musical about a group of starving young artists trying to survive in New York’s East Village during the onset of HIV/AIDS remains Aduba’s favorite show of all time.
“My sisters and I skipped school and we got that soundtrack, and I fell in love with it,” she says. “We went to see the show with my family, and I remember seeing it – this was before I even knew you could be an artist for a living – [and I was] so captivated. I had seen other shows before, but I was like, whatever that is, I would love to do something like that.”
And she clearly did do something like that, as evidenced in her big win for outstanding guest actress in a comedy at Saturday’s 2014 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, where she made it known how much her achievements truly mean.
“I’m stuffed really. I’m beyond full, ” she told reporters in the press room after her win. “My cup runneth over right now. I feel absolutely all of those things: I feel full of joy, like a fountain. Mission accomplished.”
• Reporting by CARYN MIDLER