Uzo Aduba on the Kindest Coaches She's Ever Had and Their Lasting Impact on Her Life and Career

Actress and former track star Uzo Aduba recently opened up to PEOPLE for our annual Kindness Issue about her two favorite and most impactful coaches

Uzo Aduba
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As part of our annual Kindness Issue and celebrity stories of the kindest thing they've ever experienced, Emmy winning actress and former collegiate track star Uzo Aduba shared with PEOPLE her love and appreciation for two impactful college coaches. The following is Aduba's account of that kindness in her own words.

I ran track in college [at Boston University], and I had amazing coaches: a husband-and-wife duo named Bruce and Lesley Lehane. Even though we were there as athletes, they really put into our spirits how to take the sport and apply it to becoming good, solid humans.

We think about coaches being big, loud, yelly people, but these two had such a gentle streak. Bruce has passed on, sadly, but they were like senseis, philosophers. Lesley was really quiet, but her words had fire in them. She had an ability to turn her voice into your inner voice.

Uzo Aduba
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They loved their athletes, and not just because they loved the sport. It was bigger than that for them. They would talk about focusing on your own race and the idea of not concentrating on the distractions in lanes to your left or right. They showed me that you can lead with a nurturing hand and helped me recognize that we're all part of a larger sum. For the machine to work, respect and care need to be given to all parts, big and small. That is kindness.

I was able to bring a lot of what I learned on the track into my art and my life. And that encouraging voice—I definitely still hear it and respond to that uplift.

I still say it to myself: "You got this. You can do this."

Aduba's new film National Champions arrives in theaters Dec. 10. She is also starring in Clyde's on Broadway beginning Nov. 23.

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