"Getting to work with so many incredible women and getting to play this character that has just grown tremendously throughout the season — I just pray for 100 times more chances like this in my career," Danielle Brooks tells PEOPLE

By Nicole Sands
July 27, 2017 10:46 AM
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Credit: Walter McBride/Getty Images

Danielle Brooks doesn’t mince words about being hesitant to strip down for a role.

The body-positive actress, who plays Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black‘s, revealed to PEOPLE she almost ditched her star-making turn on the show due to reluctance at signing on for nude scenes.

“To be honest I didn’t know Orange was going to be one of those dream jobs,” she says about her first impression of the role. “I almost turned it down in the beginning because there was possibility for nudity, but I’m really glad I didn’t do that.”

“Getting to work with so many incredible women and getting to play this character that has just grown tremendously throughout the season — I just pray for 100 times more chances like this in my career,” she adds.

With the show now in its fifth season, Brooks says, “The hardest part of production is not having too much fun.”

“Honestly, all of us are really close friends now, so when we get together we love laughing until our stomachs hurts, so just remembering to rein it back can be challenging work,” she says. “Somehow we find a way to pull it together.”

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Brooks’ character — who was granted parole in season 1 but ended up back in Litchfield Penitentiary by season 2 after struggling to adjust to life on the outside — has morphed from a light-hearted inmate to a protagonist to all other inmates by season 5.

“I think she’s super courageous, she’s been through so much in her life, but she’s still held on to her resilience and her perseverance,” says Brooks, 27, about what she admires most about her character. “She’s a fighter and no matter how many times she gets knocked down she always finds ways to get back up.”

  • For more on why Danielle Brooks decided to join Orange Is the New Black, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
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When it comes to life off camera, Brooks’ ideal day is one when she’s “surrounded with people that I love and that love me.”

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On her checklist for a perfect day? “[It] would be a very chill day in my apartment ordering a huge breakfast from this place called Choice Market in Brooklyn, catching up on a few of my favorite shows on my DVR: 90-Day Fiancé, Wild ‘N Out, Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

She continues, “[I love] getting up late, taking a shower, meeting a friend in Central Park, going to get a chocolate walnut cookie from Levain Bakery, then I would walk down to 14th Street, maybe catch an independent movie and then head over to Soho House and chill for the rest of the day.”

Orange Is the New Black is currently streaming on Netflix.