10 Fun Things We Learned At The Orange Is The New Black Press Day

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This week our Paste.com cover story centers on the women of Orange Is The New Black, who we had the honor of speaking with at last week’s New York City press day. Although our feature takes an in-depth look at the cultural significance of the series, there was a much lighter tone to the roundtable discussions as well.

Many of the cast members revealed hilarious anecdotes or fun facts
about their world outside of OITNB. Here are 10 things we were legitimately surprised to learn.

1. Uzo Aduba (Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren) Loves A Good ‘That’s What She Said’ Joke

In the midst of an intense discussion about all of the women-on-women relationships, Aduba couldn’t resist throwing in a “That’s What She Said” jab. She promised to use the phrase continuously throughout the press day, whenever she was presented with the opportunity.

2. Yael Stone (Lorna Morello) Once Had An Epic Zumba Fail

In answer to a question about her strangest encounter with a fan, the Aussie actor launched into an unforgettable story about taking her first Zumba class. Initially feeling quite confident in her ability to bust a move, all that went out of the window the moment she was spotted by a fan who started freaking out just as the moves got harder and Stone started failing all over the place. Hey. We’ve all been there.

3. Dascha Polanco (Dayanara “Daya” Diaz) Would Rather be in Timbs

It needs to be said that Dascha Polanco is an absolute vision in person (though a few minutes on her Instagram page could probably tell you as much). Although she was dressed up at the press day, she maintained that she’s no girly-girl, and that—true to her Bronx roots—she loves rocking her classic Timbalands.

4. Danielle Brooks (Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson) Had a Random Run-In With Viola Davis

Brooks told us a powerful story about running into the Oscar-nominated actress (who went to Brooks’ alma mater Juilliard) at Columbus Circle in NYC. Just as she recognized Davis and started having an epic super-fan moment, she was recognized by an OITNB viewer, who also started having an epic super-fan moment. For Brooks, this was a great reminder that she is now following in Davis’ footsteps and becoming an inspiration to others.

5. Samira Wiley (Poussey Washington) Stands on the Shoulders Of Giants (Her Mom and Dad)

Another reporter at the event brought up the fact that—while OITNB is doing plenty to inform and inspire discussions about the LGBTQ community—Wiley’s parents have been key players in the movement in Washington D.C. Pastors Christine and Dennis Wiley are the heads of the first and only traditional black church in the District of Columbia to perform same-sex unions. Wiley talked about her pride in her parents’ work, and also added that they enjoy the show.

6. Lorraine Toussaint (Vee Parker) is Thrilled about Her Next Project

Before the official interview began, Toussaint gushed to her co-star Kate Mulgrew (Galina ‘Red’ Reznikov) about Selma, the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic from Ava DuVernay. She raved about her fellow actors on the project (including David Oyelowo), and said that this will be a hugely important film (but we pretty much figured that).

7. Jason Biggs (Larry Bloom) is Terribly Obsessed with His Baby

While we were all talking OITNB, there was a little baby Biggs in one of the upstairs rooms of the Crosby Street Hotel, probably (hopefully) taking a nap. Biggs has come quite a long way since American Pie, but given the kind of jokes he was cracking, it’s clear that he’s maintained his penchant for high school-ish potty humor that we all love. He spoke about being able to relate to some of those scenes with Piper’s friend Polly Harper a bit more, now that he’s a father and understands that breasts really can start leaking through denim tops (true story). He also maintains that his son is cuter than anything else, ever in life. We buy it.

8. Laura Prepon (Alex Vause) is Ready for her Big Come-Back

Those of us wishing Season Two had had a little more Alex can rest easy. Prepon confirmed that she will be in every single, blessed episode of Season Three. She also hinted at an incredibly steamy sex scene she’d just shot with Taylor Schilling (Piper Chapman), as they are already three episodes into production.

9. Taryn Manning (Tiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett) Occasionally Reverts to her Hustle & Flow Days

For those of us who still remember Manning from her turn as Nola in the epic 2005 film (the one that earned Three Six Mafia an Oscar for their track “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”), listening to her rap “Lean Back” to Michael Harney (who plays Sam Healy) was deeply, deeply gratifying. (She was trying to get him to push away from the microphone a bit, and thought a little Terror Squad/Fat Joe would help.)

10. Selenis Leyva (Gloria Mendoza) has a Special Reason for Loving Laverne Cox

We all love Laverne Cox, who recently became the first transgender person to cover TIME Magazine, and we love her OITNB character Sophia Burset as well. Levya revealed that she can personally attest to the importance of this storyline on the show, as she has a transgender sister with whom she is extremely close. In one of the more powerful moments of the press day, Levya found herself tearing up as she thanked Cox for giving her sister a voice. Cox brilliantly responded by saying that her sister “always had a voice, it’s just about amplifying that voice” and “getting permission” to speak your own truth.

Shannon M. Houston is Assistant TV Editor at Paste, and a New York-based freelance writer with probably more babies than you. You can follow her on Twitter.

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