TV show em­braces di­ver­sity

Prison TV se­ries con­tin­ues to push the boundaries

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE -

Com­edy drama Or­ange Is The New Black is now a global phe­nom­e­non, hav­ing first hit our screens in 2013. And the se­ries, set in the fic­tional Litch­field prison and in­spired by Piper Ker­man’s 2010 mem­oir Or­ange Is The New Black: My Year In A Women’s Prison, is back for a fourth sea­son, avail­able on Netflix.

The se­ries has come a long way since we first met cen­tral fig­ure Piper Chap­man in episode one. Since then, fans have been treated to a big cast of un­likely lead char­ac­ters.

Se­le­nis Leyva, 44, who plays Latina leader Glo­ria Men­doza, says: “We’re em­brac­ing di­ver­sity, not only race but dif­fer­ent body types and ori­en­ta­tion. This show is a re­flec­tion of the world we live in to­day.”


The first se­ries in­tro­duced the au­di­ence to Tay­lor Schilling’s Chap­man, an engaged New Yorker sent to prison for trans­port­ing drugs a decade ear­lier. By sea­son four, we’ve moved on quite some way and Yael Stone, who plays Lorna Morello says: “It’s im­por­tant to note what Jenji [Ko­han, the se­ries cre­ator] said all those years ago, that Piper was the Tro­jan horse. The viewer came in on that first scene, fol­low­ing the blonde, beau­ti­ful ac­tress. She in­tro­duced us to all th­ese in­cred­i­bly wild char­ac­ters that would usu­ally be in the back­ground (of a show).”

So far the first three se­ries have been very dif­fer­ent, and se­ries four will carry on in the same vein with writ­ers this time ex­plor­ing the ef­fect of out­side forces on the prison.

“The bu­reau­cracy be­hind the ma­chine starts to at­tack the women and their fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights,” Stone ex­plains.


At the end of se­ries three, bus­loads of new in­mates were seen ar­riv­ing at Litch­field, and as Leyva re­veals: “We’re go­ing to see over-crowd­ed­ness and how other peo­ple com­ing in changes things.”

Lea DeLaria, who plays key char­ac­ter Big Boo, calls this se­ries “ex­cru­ci­at­ing”. “Ev­ery sea­son has a theme and this sea­son, the theme is ‘it ain’t pretty in prison’, and you’re go­ing to see a whole load of rea­sons why,” says the 58-year-old. “Jenji’s to­tally tak­ing on the Amer­i­can prison sys­tem. The pri­vati­sa­tion of what’s go­ing on, what that means for th­ese peo­ple who are hu­man be­ings, and how we treat them... Profit over peo­ple should be il­le­gal ev­ery­where, it’s just wrong.”


Uzo Aduba, who landed two Golden Globes for her por­trayal of Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren, is proud of the show’s di­ver­sity.

“Di­ver­sity is hav­ing seven Lati­nas all dif­fer­ent shapes, ages; six African-Amer­i­can women dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes; Asian, white women all dif­fer­ent ages, co-ex­ist­ing si­mul­ta­ne­ously on a sin­gu­lar show. That’s what’s ex­cit­ing.” Dascha Polanco, who plays Daya­nara Diaz cred­its Netflix for the show’s im­pact: “There’s a lot more free­dom of ex­pres­sion, not only for the ac­tors and cre­ators, but the view­ers. You get to watch it wher­ever and when­ever you want, and how you want.” Sea­son four of Or­ange Is The New Black is avail­able on Netflix

HARD CELL: Danielle Brooks’ char­ac­ter Taystee has a ‘quiet chat’ with Uzo Aduba’s Crazy Eyes

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