More Fun Facts About Orange is the New Black – Just for Fans

By Evil Jenji

I just read, two years late, the best article I’ve ever read about Orange is the New Black. If you’re a fan of the series, you should read it too. I think everything has its time, and now I realize that it’s the right time for me. I was delighted to read stories that I didn’t know, it’s like having Orange fresh in my mind once again. Since the beginning of the pandemic I just didn’t watch Orange anymore, until last week I reviewed some random episodes, without subtitles. This is because I was trying to improve my English. But what I realized is that I discovered some more details that went unnoticed in the other 6 or 7 times I replayed it. Honestly, I never counted how many times I saw OITNB, it may even have been more than that, but it doesn’t matter. Every time you discover a new detail, it’s as if the series is being reborn all over again. I invite you to know some more curiosities.

When a few days after the last season was released The Hollywood Reporter magazine ran a huge interview with much of the show’s staff and cast. At this point, fans of the series were watching the last season in looping without paying attention to what was being said about the series. This is what happened in my case. Here important information was being said firsthand. What I put here for you is a summary of the best moments of this interview.

Taylor Schilling didn’t book the role of Piper until two weeks before filming began.

JEN EUSTON, CASTING DIRECTOR People were passing. That first season was a lot of begging. Nobody knew what this was. Piper was the hardest role to cast. Jenji said she needed a unicorn, and I had nobody. I was looking for Piper the entire pilot and didn’t end up casting her until two weeks before.

HERRMANN We met with Katie Holmes and Kate Hudson.

EUSTON I had been tracking Taylor Schilling the whole time we were reading people, but she was on vacation. I finally got her in and sent her best readings to Jenji. I said, “I found her.” And Jenji said, “You did.” 

HERRMANN There was a naturalism to Taylor that is undeniable. And the match was made during the chemistry read between Laura Prepon and Taylor.

Natasha Lyonne wanted to be cast as Lorna when she first heard about the show. Meanwhile, Yael Stone, who played Lorna, auditioned for Nicky.

NATASHA LYONNE (NICKY NICHOLS) I wanted to read for Lorna. I remember thinking that character made more sense because I was really in a place of just trying to get a job. 

YAEL STONE (LORNA MORELLO) I auditioned for Nicky first.

LYONNE I got the script for Orange when I was doing a two-episode finale role on WeedsOrange felt more viable because it was like an imaginary show on an imaginary network. 

STONE I had just moved to New York and got married a few days before, so I brought the one bright red lipstick I had and did one take. The little world I imagined for Lorna included her strange voice. I’m Australian, and I was terrified from the beginning about the accent.

Originally, Taystee was named Delicious (like in the book) and she was only going to be in two episodes.

DANIELLE BROOKS (TASHA “TAYSTEE” JEFFERSON) I didn’t know anything about the story aside from that it was set in a prison and they were calling it a web series. The character was named Delicious, from the book. The role was for two episodes.I almost didn’t take the job because I thought I had to be topless. I thought it was going to affect my career. Taystee got out on parole during season one, and I didn’t know if she was coming back. I had done 10 episodes and made the most money I had ever made. We got a bump in the middle of shooting season one. I first started making minimum, which is a little less than $1,000 an episode, and I was making $5,000 an episode that first season.

Lea DeLaria was brought in to play a prison guard, but then Jenji wrote Big Boo specifically for her.

Lea DeLaria –They first brought me in for a guard. Then for Anita DeMarco, the part Lin Tucci plays. I was feeling very good about it but my manager said, “There isn’t a part for you. They swear they’re going to write something.” I had a hissy fit: “If there isn’t a part for me in a show that takes place in a women’s prison, then I fuckin’ quit show business.” Jenji said the same thing and wrote Big Boo for me. 

There was no diva bullshit. Jenji had a very strict no-diva policy on set. 

We had kind of a mutual admiration society. The first day I got on set, Piper Kerman came over, shook my hand and said, “When I was a drug dealer” — and she put air quotes around “drug dealer” — “I used to see you do stand-up in Provincetown.”

Kate and I filmed a scene near the end of the first season, and I was thinking, “This feels like a hit to me.” I turned to Kate, and there must have been something about the look on my face, because she said, “Don’t say it out loud. Don’t jinx it.”

Dascha Polanco didn’t know if Daya was going to be in Season 2 — she was going to finish studying to be a nurse if she didn’t continue on the show.

POLANCO People were more upset about Bennett leaving Daya than they were at the beginning of their romance. They were mad about the relationship to start, and then they got mad when he left!

I wanted Daya to have a moment of closure with Bennett. I wanted more of Pornstache, though we do see him [at the end] with Daya’s baby. I wanted to see Daya actually inquire about her daughter. Her curiosity as a mother, her artistry — that all became obsolete. That’s what happens when you have no hope.

Piper Kerman said the inspiration for Red’s character was a woman named Pop who “essentially saved my life in prison.”

KATE MULGREW (GALINA “RED” REZNIKOV) I talked to Piper about Red’s inspiration, and she told me, “I dedicated the book to this woman who essentially saved my life in prison.”

KERMAN My single greatest fear was that the show would suck. But watching that very first scene with Red and Piper in the cafeteria, my whole anxiety level began to diminish. When they broke, they introduced me to Jodie Foster, who wound up directing episode three [and later, the season two premiere]. 

One of the “easiest roles to cast” on the show was Laverne Cox as Sophia. They knew from the very beginning that they wanted her involved.

KERMAN Laverne Cox’s casting is one of the most important things that has ever happened on television. 

EUSTON I was looking for a transgender character for a movie earlier that year and read Laverne Cox. You’d think that Sophia would be the hardest part for me to cast, but that was actually one of the easiest because there was no competition.

ADUBA I remember being in hair and makeup one day and Laverne was giving me a trans education — a better trans education — and I said to her, “You are going to change lives.” And she just laughed. 

LAVERNE COX (SOPHIA BURSET) I remember seeing that there was a character named Pornstache and I was like, “OK, I’m in.”

In fact, Laura Prepon didn’t have a standard six-year contract at the start, which is why Alex disappeared for a little while in Season 2.

PREPON Cameron Esposito was asked who the Channing Tatum of lesbians is and she said “Laura Prepon.” And then people were like, “Oh my God, you’re the Channing Tatum of lesbians!”

When young girls come up to me and say that watching my character gave her the courage to come out to her family? That is huge. People felt represented by Alex and Piper. People were dressing up like us for Halloween.

People were pretty upset when they found out that I wasn’t actually contracted on the show. I was on That ’70s Show for eight years, then I did October Road and Are You There Chelsea? and I didn’t want to go on to another full six-year contract just yet. I did have another job that I had to figure out. Before we were finished filming the first season, I knew they wanted me to come back.

About Spinoff

HERRMANN There will not be a reunion show, no [despite the series finale line between Alex and Nicky: “Maybe one day we’ll do a reunion tour”]. We’re really sad to say goodbye to these characters. Maybe an idea will pop up and we’ll bring someone back to life.

KOHAN No promises. But we also like to think that the show and these characters are continuing on in some parallel universe and that we left it open to people’s imaginations that these stories go on, and they do.

GERRERO I would welcome a detention center spinoff.

MULGREW Orange Is the New Black is incomparable. I don’t think that Jenji Kohan was properly recognized for this towering achievement. Emmys should have been thrown at her.

click here for a full interview. I keep thinking about the spinoff. But a new light shined on me, if the first time it all started with a book, why not use the same magic a second time? Both Piper Kerman and Jenji Kohan never wrote a fiction book. The characters are now more alive than ever, a book would allow them all to come to life. And not only that, they could bring them together, without pandemics, in every imaginable scenario. Dear Piper Kerman and Jenji Kohan, I invite you to write the official fanfic for Orange is the New Black. I’m sure you, like us, miss them. Just don’t let these characters (that you taught us to love) die. If this book later becomes a successful new series, it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone! Just continue to teach us even more about the angels and devils that dwell in each of us.

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