YAEL is the new BLACK
The show that launched Yael Stone
IT’S the TV show that started a revolution. When Orange is the New Black debuted in 2013, it not only won a legion of dedicated fans, it redefined the way women are depicted on the small screen.
With an almost all-female cast of various backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities and more, it broke TV boundaries. And it also saw a wave of female-centric dramas hit screens – including our own local prison production Wentworth .
Australian Yael Stone (right) plays Laura Morello in the series which has shot her to worldwide fame. “It has changed my life enormously,” she says.
Since being cast when she was fresh to New York in 2011, Stone has gone on to win an award for her work on the series. And she recently returned home triumphantly to Australia to headline upcoming SBS drama DeepWater, alongside Noah Taylor.
With season four about to debut and a fifth, six and seventh already commissioned, Stone says she’s proud to be a part of a series that champions women – both in front of and behind the cameras.
Not only is the series showrunner, Jenji Kohan, female, but “then we have camera operators who are female as well, and the crew – and that’s significant,” she says.
“I don’t know that it’s a deliberate choice but I think it is. It’s a culture of giving women jobs they might not usually get. I’m yet to see any disadvantage in that.”
Stone says the show “concerns women in a deeply obvious way – it’s a female population in a women’s prison” – but believes the impact of the show goes further. “Women make up half of the world and we haven’t yet made up that balance on film and TV,” she says. “Projects like this are significant and it proves networks can’t ignore the fact that people want to watch female-centric shows.”
It’s also a show that changes societal perceptions, add other cast members.
“We don’t spend a lot of time sitting around thinking about whether our butt looks big in our jeans which is a common thread in almost any other show with a lot of women,” says Lea DeLaria, who portrays inmate “Big Boo”. “We appreciate the gift of being able to dig in a do some work.”
Uzo Aduba, the woman behind fan favourite “Crazy Eyes” says it best.
“I don’t know of another show off hand where there are so many different types of women represented in number,” Aduba says. “Black women, Latino women, white women, Asian women, varying ages, sizes, gender issues and sexual orientation all in one place.”
For those who are new to the series, the show is about the lives of the women in a minimal security prison.
Based on the memoirs of writer Piper Kerman, a well-educated woman who spent time behind bars for money laundering and drug trafficking, it’s a comedic drama which delves into not just how these women landed themselves in prison but on the relationships they form there.
In the fourth season, Litchfield is turned into a prison for profit with 100 new inmates arriving.
This leads to overcrowding and a whole range of new conflicts and issues among the women.
But while rumour has it the latest season will be a little darker, the show’s cast promise we can expect it to stay true to the formula that has made the series a runaway hit.
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK SEASON FOUR MARATHON
FRIDAY, 2PM, SHOWCASE; STREAMING ON NETFLIX