The American actress Laura Prepon is one of those people who pops up now and again in a film or show, or simply in a headline, whom you recognize but might not necessarily place. Born in 1980, she’s been acting since she was 18, with her first role (and breakthrough) coming in That ‘70s Show. She played the part of Donna Pinciotti for the better part of eight years, and when you look back on the cast of the show she was in pretty good company. Cast mates like Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Tobey Maguire went on to become stars – but Prepon has had more ups and downs in her career.

For a while, Prepon was best known for appearing now and then in popular television series, always recognizable and impactful but never central to the broader show. She played a character named Frankie in an episode of House in 2010, for instance, and appeared as Nikki Heat in Castle in 2011. Most notably, she had a brief recurring role as the comically highbrow Karen in How I Met Your Mother (playing one of the innumerable women with whom the lead character Ted becomes enamored). In Karen, Prepon found a popular, funny role in a show at its apex, and may well have helped to launch herself back into the public spotlight in a way that led to a far bigger part in 2013.

Before we get to that, Prepon makes the occasional headline away from acting as well. For instance she’s been seen now and then on the poker scene, where she’s certainly not alone among celebrities. Prepon has said she uses the game to relax, which may in fact be why it has so much appeal among famous types. Particularly now that online poker has enabled people to enjoy a hand from anywhere the internet reaches, it’s a way for celebrities to enjoy a competitive social activity without too much bustle – though Prepon doesn’t mind playing at public tables either.

The actress has also made waves through her connection to Scientology. This is something that tends to be mildly controversial where most linked celebrities are concerned, but for Prepon it seems, if anything, to be empowering. When asked about it in an interview a few years ago, Prepon seemed to shrug off the issue, stating simply, “I know what’s true for me and what works for me.” This fits the general image of Prepon, which happened to be one of the broader points of the interview, that she is extraordinarily comfortable in her own skin. She’s a woman who never quite found the stardom she might once have found, yet one who’s still had a very successful career and seems more than pleased with it.

Getting back to the part Prepon earned in 2013, however, she does seem to have finally found a starring role, and one that will define her career beyond That ‘70s Show. We’re talking of course about Orange Is The New Black, in which Prepon plays Alex Vause. The Netflix original crime dramedy revolving around female inmates has been a hit from day one, and through 60 episodes in which she’s appeared to date, Prepon has been one of the driving forces of it. With the show now heading into its sixth season (and with a seventh already planned), she’s become a true television star as an adult. She also happens to be doing it while raising a baby daughter she had with actor Ben Foster, and she couldn’t be much more endearing about it.

Aside from once appearing in a 1999 music video for Semisonic’s “Secret Smile,” Prepon has never really had much to do with the music world. But she’s still a woman we wanted to highlight as an example of perseverance and self-assurance in entertainment. Prepon by all accounts has always been herself, and it’s paying off in a big way these days.