If you have yet to hear of a little show called Orange Is The New Black, you’ve probably been living under a rock. I’m not judging though– I’m sure your rock is lovely.
But seriously, OITNB has taken over our Netflix screens since first coming on the scene four seasons ago. Recently I had the incredible opportunity to float some questions by Laura Gómez, who plays Blanca Flores in the hit series, to catch up on not only on her thoughts about what the show has transformed into, but how it has affected Hollywood since it’s conception.
1. OITNB has rocked the storytelling for women in TV. Do you think this show in particular has opened doors and opportunities for female characters that might not have been there before?
It definitely has. I think many of us in this show owe OITNB for either opening a door or pushing us to the next level, and don’t get me wrong, most of us had been doing the work and walking the walk, either in theater or television, but the show’s success has definitely brought us to a very different platform and we are grateful to be a part of a show that puts women on this level.
2. It seems more that OITNB focuses less on ‘prison’ in the cliche sense and more so on the humanity of people and how they get to where they are. Is this something you think is lacking in television and maybe society in general?
I think something’s certainly lacking in society and we’re just putting a microscope on that reality. However, I do think television is in a golden moment and there are shows reflecting this. David Simon did it with The Wire and Show Me A Hero, John Ridley is doing it with American Crime and of course, OITNB has brought it on from a female perspective.
3. On a similar note, do you think it ever falsely portrays the perils of incarceration?
I think our writers are pretty amazing, and the research is very thorough, so the show reflects things very accurately. But of course, it is fiction, and most of all, a dramedy, so there are elements that will come across as very comedic for real life. Then again, sometimes reality surpasses fiction.
4. What has been the greatest shock so far for you since being a part of the show? Either plot wise, or personally?
Our show never ceases to amaze me. The greatest shock was probably Poussey’s situation. I don’t want to give any spoilers, in case there’s still people who haven’t seen it, but that was certainly a shocking moment on television, I think.
5. What was the audition process like? Did you have any idea it would turn into what it is now?
The audition was great and unexpected. I went for some new Internet show created by Jenji Kohan, so that was something special. I didn’t really know much about it, except the description of the character, “crazy bathroom cellphone lady.” Oh, and she was Dominican. I thought “I got this,” but I had no idea it would become this big hit show, nor that Blanca would grow to this point.
6. Do you find voiceover work more challenging than onscreen acting? Which do you prefer?
I enjoy doing voiceover work, but it is a completely different thing. In my case, VO is something else I also do as an actor, although I’ve never really thought about choosing one over the other.
7. How has fan interaction been since OITNB?
For me, it’s been manageable, because until now I was barely recognizable. People notice me a bit more now though. They love the show and they’ve loved Blanca in Season 4, but they’re very respectful. So far, so good!
8. In a time where Hollywood has been both ridiculed and praised for either their exclusive or inclusive nature of women and POC on screens, how do you think OITNB differs in their portrayal?
There seems to be an honest voice that is for once, not rooted in stereotypes. What our show has done that’s very special is put women on a whole other level, including in front and behind the camera, and also proves to the industry that a show with a mostly female ensemble can actually become a world sensation. As for stereotypes, of course there’s some, clichés come from some sort of truth, but then what makes our show unique is showing the human side of each one of these particular characters.
9. Are you working on any upcoming projects?
I recently starred in a film in the Dominican Republic directed by a very talented filmmaking couple. The film is now in post-production and it’s bound to go to some important festivals once it’s done.
10. Which character do you empathize or sympathize with most in the show?
There’s quite a few, but I think there’s such a beautiful arc in Pennsatucky. She’s definitely one of my favorites.