9 Things We Learned About 'Orange Is The New Black' At PaleyFest
The cast members and creator of Orange is the New Black (OITNB) were bubbling with energy last night at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood for the PaleyFest panel on the show. The natural chemistry they all have with each other and their witty and charming banter set the mood for the night and reminded us of what made us all fall in love with the show in the first place.
There were talks about trans issues, some hints into Season 2, and hilarious moments (especially with Lea DeLaria who plays Big Boo on the Netflix show about a group of women living in prison) that happened organically throughout the panel talk. (Unfortunately, they didn't show any clips from Season 2, just merely a clip package summing up Season 1!)
By the end of the night, there were a total of 15 people on stage, with Jason Biggs and Michael J. Harney as the only two men in the group. Missing, however, were Samira Wiley (Poussey!) and the Latina actresses Dascha Polanco and Jessica Pimentel.
LAist checked out the panel and picked out our favorite moments from the night:
1. The cast members adore each other. OITNB creator Jenji Kohan said that because there are so many female actresses in it, people told her that they thought that it would be a "bitch-fest" on set. However, she says, "But it doesn't have to be—it's not true."
Laura Prepon, who plays Alex, mentioned how they were all on a long group text together yesterday about what they were all going to wear for the PaleyFest panel and Natasha Lyonne (Nicky) was sending them photos of dogs in costumes.
Lorraine Toussaint (of Law & Order fame and who will be portraying a new character Vee on OITNB) said: "We do hang together. When we see each other it’s a love fest. We are a bit of a clique. I slip into ghetto dorm mode. We immediately start talking in 'motherfuckers' and 'bitches.' And it’s very odd."
2. Kohan doesn't think she's perpetuating stereotypes. The moderator asked Kohan on what she thought about people criticizing the show as following stereotypes. "Our focus is on characters and these people as individuals," Kohan said. "We talk about them like people we know. We don’t approach it like 'what does the black one do?' You know these people and you can’t view it as tokenism."
"What tokenism?" Laverne Cox, the trans actress who portrays Sophia, chimed in. "We have several black people here."
3. DeLaria is just as much a bad-ass as her character Big Boo is on OITNB. DeLaria had been sitting in the crowd during the panel and when the cast mentioned her, she stood up and everyone cheered. She didn't know if she should get on stage and then decided she should. After a few hilarious attempts at jumping up instead of using the stairs, a guard and Biggs pulled her up and set up a chair for her on stage.
She started off with, "I just want to say I hope I have a lot of sex tonight." Then DeLaria dove into a conversation about LGBT issues. Cox had said earlier that OITNB opened up conversations about the trans community, and DeLaria noted that and added, "A lot of conversations people are having are about butches now."
Of course, she threw in a screwdriver joke (as a nod to her Big Boo character) and said she's signed 44 screwdrivers for fans.
4. Jason Biggs has only met a few actresses on OITNB. Although it does make sense, it was surprising to hear that Biggs hasn't met most of the other cast members since his scenes mostly involve Taylor Schilling's Piper character.
On a side note, he's pretty amusing when it comes to self-deprecating humor. While Kate Mulgrew said fans now shout out her character's name, Red, to her, Biggs said fans still call him "pie-fucker" (as a nod to his starring role in the American Pie films).
5. Toussaint's new character Vee: The newcomer to OITNB was cryptic about Vee, but as far as we know, it looks like her's will be a major role in the show and will shake things up. "I play a street-wise drug maven who runs children," she said.
Danielle Brooks (who completely acts the opposite of her Taystee character on OITNB) said of Toussaint, "The times I got to work with her felt like taking an Oprah master class."
6. The real-life Piper Chapman wasn't happy with the way Kohan portrayed the prison guards on the show. Although the guards aren't seen as the nicest of folks on OITNB, Chapman felt Kohan was humanizing them a bit too much.
"She was very upset at first that they were who they were and that they had sympathetic aspects because that was not her experience of it." Kohan said. "We want everyone on the show to be a whole person."
Harney, who is a correction officer on the show, added: "By us being able to be whole people we’re able to expose the inner conflicts of the people who work inside these places."
7. Mulgrew still doesn't know what landed her character Red in jail. Kohan told Mulgrew that she once wrote the back story of Red's arrest on a piece of paper, but threw it away. Mulgrew asked Kohan if it had something to do with her "deep-freeze" to which Kohan replied, "Not specifically." Looks like we'll be in the dark about this too.
8. Which characters will we get to learn more about in Season 2? Kohan said we'll get to find out the back stories on Lorna, Vee, the nun, Taystee, Poussay and Miss Rosa. However, everyone stayed pretty guarded about hints on Season 2 throughout the night.
9. Whom would the cast members choose as their "prison wife?" This was probably the best question of the night, asked by a fan in the audience, and directed at Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes). The question got deflected to the entire cast, and while Schilling and Prepon gave the cop-out answer of "everyone," Cox kept it real and said her prison wife would be Alex.
Season 2 of "Orange is the New Black" premieres on June 6, 2014 on Netflix.