Uzo Aduba is embracing new family traditions.
One year after revealing she secretly got married to filmmaker Robert Sweeting, the actress spoke about how the couple celebrate the holidays.
"A newer tradition since we've been together is we share as a family, like our families have Thanksgiving together, which is nice," Uzo exclusively told E! News on Nov. 22. "I'm Nigerian, so of course our Thanksgiving is an American and Nigerian blend. So some of our culinary cuisine is new, but is liked and appreciated by them."
The Massachusetts-born Orange Is The New Black alum, whose parents are from Nigeria, said she is "thankful for so many things" this holiday season. "I am thankful for my family, starting first with my husband," the 41-year-old said. "I'm thankful for love."
Uzo, who has stayed in touch with OITNB co-stars such as Natasha Lyonne, Yael Stone, Adrienne C. Moore and Dascha Polanco, said she has "incredible friends and incredible family." She added, "I don't know what I did to deserve both but I'm thankful for it."
In the spirit of paying it forward, the Emmy winner has partnered with Heifer International, a global nonprofit working to eradicate poverty and hunger through sustainable, values-based holistic community development. Uzo recently got back from an "incredible" trip to Rwanda where she met with various families in different stages of their relationship with the organization.
Calling the African nation an "absolutely beautiful country," the In Treatment star praised Rwanda's efforts to rebuild following years of devastation as a result of its civil war in the 1990s.
"I think Heifer fits so well into that world and community because the whole country has made this decision to sort of change itself, change its narrative, work collectively to grow itself up in a productive and powerful way," she said. "It's such a young country, full of energy and vision and ideas. I absolutely loved it. The people are lovely. They've been through something, so there is a genuine set feeling that just runs throughout the country of like, what a blessing it is to have today."
While she may be best known in the states for her onscreen roles, Uzo said that the people she met in Rwanda were more taken with her philanthropic passions than her celebrity status.
"The badge of honor that they saw most greatly on me was that I was an ambassador for Heifer," she said. "I'm not certain that they are over there watching you know, Orange and In Treatment, but they were like 'she represents Heifer as an ambassador' and those words clicked for them because it sort of creates a real shorthand because this is something that they do know."
The actress added, "They may not watch Orange, but they certainly binge everything that Heifer is doing."