An Episode With: Tay­lor Schilling

Michele Manelis talks with Tay­lor Schilling about the fi­nal sea­son of Orange is the New Black and new­found free­dom

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Be­ing on such a long-run­ning show must’ve changed a lot of lives.

Yes, it was in­cred­i­bly poignant. The show has changed all of our lives tremen­dously. It makes me emo­tional now just to think about it. We are just all very close and I just feel so priv­i­leged to have been a part of it. And on the other hand, I am also thrilled that we are get­ting a chance to move on. It’s im­por­tant. But yeah, it was very ripe, it was very full, it was a re­ally full ex­pe­ri­ence mov­ing into the last year.

This is your sev­enth and fi­nal sea­son. Your char­ac­ter, Piper, is fi­nally out of prison and liv­ing on the out­side. How does it feel?

I feel like we’ve been wait­ing for this jour­ney to land for al­most seven years. It’s been very in­ter­est­ing to feel her ex­plore prison life and now watch­ing her in this new sit­u­a­tion, it was very juicy and ex­cit­ing to see what it would be like to ex­pe­ri­ence the world again af­ter be­ing in­car­cer­ated.

It must be re­fresh­ing that Tay­lor Schilling is also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a new­found free­dom. What are you do­ing these days?

I am tak­ing some act­ing classes right now. I started out in theatre and I went to grad­u­ate school at NYU and I re­ally missed that ex­pe­ri­ence. And I am so look­ing for­ward to hav­ing a bit more of a clear sched­ule and the abil­ity to chal­lenge my­self in a few ar­eas. So, ba­si­cally, just fol­low­ing my own cu­rios­ity and wher­ever that sense of free­dom leads, I’ll fol­low.

When you started go­ing up for au­di­tions you were work­ing as a nanny. Was it a good ex­pe­ri­ence?

Yeah, I ac­tu­ally had been work­ing for a nanny be­fore I got my first job, which was a show called Mercy and that was when I was in col­lege and in grad­u­ate school. Be­ing a nanny was an ad­ven­ture. I was a re­ally good nanny, ac­tu­ally. I had a good time. And at that time, spend­ing time with kids . . . I learned a lot about my­self and that stuck with me, for sure.

What’s been one of the stand­out perks that’s come your way as a re­sult of be­ing in the spot­light?

Oh with­out a doubt, this is the most mag­i­cal thing that has hap­pened ... there was a Net­flix party, it was years ago and I had just read one of Jane Fonda’s au­to­bi­ogra­phies. I couldn’t be­lieve it but there she was sit­ting right there at this party. A friend in­tro­duced me to her and she was fa­mil­iar with my work, which I couldn’t be­lieve. So, get­ting a chance to es­tab­lish a re­la­tion­ship with her was mind-blow­ing.

What do you like to do when you’re not work­ing?

I’m quite ac­tive. I like to spend time out­side. But re­ally, I’m quite bor­ing. I like to ar­range my time around rest­ing and see­ing peo­ple who I love. There’s not a lot in be­tween.

When you go to red car­pet events do you use a stylist?

Oh yeah. I couldn’t fig­ure it out on my own. I like fash­ion a lot but I don’t like to shop a lot, so it’s fun to have some­body there to help. So, I get to go play dress-up for an hour or two and then we de­cide what works to­gether. It’s al­ways a lot of fun and it’s a col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Look­ing back, what ad­vice would you give your younger self start­ing out?

I would tell her that she is enough and that she is enough in the midst of what­ever is hap­pen­ing and what­ever is life-chang­ing for her at that mo­ment. But most im­por­tantly, that she re­mains enough.

The fi­nal sea­son of Orange Is The New Black will be avail­able to stream on Net­flix from July 26.

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