What if the rest of your life was to be determined by the worst thing you’d ever done? That was the case for Piper Kerman, who in 1993, helped launder money for her girlfriend, a heroine dealer for a West African kingpin. When her sentence was completed she wrote a book, which was then used as fodder for big wigs at Netflix, along with the incredibly brilliant mind of Jenji Kohan, to bring to life what we all know and love as the mass phenomenon Orange is the New Black.
While the show is set to premiere its fourth season on June 17, with the help of strategically timed teaser trailer releases, it is clear that the writers will not be slowing down anytime soon. But what do you know about the amazing women who bring your favourite inmates to life? Below you will find 10 of your favourite women in khaki (normally), and a few facts about the actress that only the truest of fans know. As well as that, you’ll quickly realize you wish that these girls got to bring their stylists into the joint because we also have photos of them looking fabulous off set.
These women are more than just sexy, you’ll quickly learn that they are also inspirational. We have a woman that is making history, a woman who is speaking out about her family’s deportation, and a woman making some amazing looking food! There’s no doubt these are the biggest badasses on TV right now, but be prepared to see how amazing they look both on and off set!
20. Laura Prepon (Alex Vause)
If you’re a 90s kid, you may recognize Laura Prepon as fun loving, free spirited Donna Pinciotti from That ‘70s Show, a TV sitcom that aired from 1998 – 2006. Appearing in an impressive 200 episodes, Prepon gathered a massive fan base that has been nothing but thrilled to see “Hot Donna” all grown up.
Prepon brings Alexandra “Alex” Vause to life for 30 episodes and counting. She is the on again/off again girlfriend of Piper Chapman for the first 3 seasons of Orange is the New Black, although the cliff-hanger ending of the third season finale “Trust No Bitch” may result in a more permanent end to that never ending merry-go-round. Her powerful and relatable performances bring fans back week after week, she was rewarded for her hard work in 2014 at the 18th Satellite Awards for best-supporting actress.
19. Laura Prepon (Off Set)
Off screen, Prepon has joined forces with integrative nutritionist Elizabeth Troy on their project The Stash Plan. Together they explore a combination of Eastern holistic medicine and cutting-edge food science to help detoxify and burn fat. She is currently touring with her 21-day meal plan/cookbook. With a figure like hers, I can’t imagine the book is a tough sell.
18. Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes)
Uzo Aduba had been gaining minor acting experience for many years, but her portrayal of Susanne Warren (aka “Crazy Eyes”) is definitely her breakout role. Uzo has received 2 Emmy Awards in exchange for her 37 episode emotional roller coaster, that seems to strike a very emotional nerve with her audience, who deeply connect with her desperate desire to belong, even if that means throwing your pie for someone who treats you like dirt. The success she has had in this role is nothing short of astounding, especially considering the actress had decided to end her acting career 45 minutes before she was cast as “Crazy Eyes”.
17. Uzo Aduba (Off Set)
Off screen, Aduba keeps it low key. Her private life isn’t widely reported on, but you can usually count on her Instagram feed for a daily dose of her glamming it up at award shows, or showering her co-stars with support on their off-screen projects. We’re hoping Uzo has reconsidered ending her acting career, but even if she does choose to step away there’s no denying that fans and critics alike have gone crazy for “Crazy Eyes”.
16. Kate Mulgrew (Red)
Trekkies everywhere rejoiced when the beloved Kate Mulgrew (who, if you’re not aware was iconically cast as Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager) was cast in OITNB. Needless to say, we have enjoyed watching Mulgrew bring the same humanity, grit and overwhelming grace to Galina “Red” Reznikov. While we have yet to learn exactly what landed “Red” in the big house, her story line has given us some major hints (unless you think that whole storing a corpse in a freezer for some scary Russian MOB boss was a one-time thing).
15. Kate Mulgrew (Off Set)
Off screen, Kate has used her platform to become a powerful voice in the Alzheimer’s community. As an Alzheimer’s champion, she speaks at functions all over the world about the effects of the disease on families, and the incredible need for research and funding. Kate’s passion for the cause began with her mother’s diagnosis, and her battle with the disease came to an end in 2006.
14. Taylor Schilling (Piper Chapman)
We all have said or done things in our 20s that we stash away in a place in our mind labeled “things I did when I was 20 and stupid.” If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, trust me, it’s coming. For Piper Chapman, this time period of her life included a lesbian lover, world travel, and maybe even a little drug money trafficking (but I mean, it was only the one time, so that’s okay, right?) Unfortunately, her past catches up with her at 31, and she is sentenced to one year at Litchfield Penitentiary.
Taylor Schilling brings Piper to life in her 40-episode span (so far), and there is not an emotion her performance has yet to evoke.
13. Taylor Schilling (Off Set)
Off screen, Schilling likes to keep things low-key. Like many of her co-stars, her social media is always full of love and support for her OITNB family. In 2015, rumours surfaced that she was dating Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein. This is the same year Schilling and Adam Scott teamed up with Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche to bring us the incredibly uncomfortable cult favourite The Overnight. Adam Scott, we’ll never be able to unsee that. Thanks a lot.
12. Taryn Manning (Tucky)
Taryn Manning brings to life Tiffany “Pennsatucky” Doggett, an eventually lovable, still misguided former meth-head serving time for shooting a nurse at an abortion clinic. Her 35-episode journey has delivered heart pounding moments to her incredibly devoted fans. Her character’s main focus seems to be finding God, but the writers seem more focused on her first finding herself.
11. Taryn Manning (Off Set)
We don’t seem to have a hard time finding Manning out of khaki. She has had several appearances as Mary Ann McGarett in the Hawaii Five-0 reboot, and has 6 smaller budget pieces due for release this year. If that doesn’t sound like a busy enough schedule she also made time to collaborate with British-Canadian producer BYNON to release their single “All The Way”. While she’s definitely no stranger to the music scene, but it’s her first release since 2012.
10. Danielle Brooks (Taystee)
We meet Brooks’ character Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson for the first time at an AA meeting the prison holds. Now, they say first impressions are lasting impressions, and her introduction lets us know “Taystee” is a mess, but she’s clearly not afraid to make a fool out of herself. Especially if it means she’s having a good time. Unless your reaction to waking up topless, with barbeque sauce all over your chest would also be, damn, not again!
9. Danielle Brooks (Off Set)
Off screen, the Juilliard School Alumni made her Broadway debut in the fall 2015 revival of The Color Purple. Cast as Sofia, her role earned her a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She also uses her social media accounts to show support for the body positivity movement. If that wasn’t enough reasons to love her, she also made time in her incredibly hectic schedule to lend her voice to Olive Blue and Monica the Crossing Guard in the Animated film Angry Birds. Okay Poussey, we get it, she’s quite the catch.
8. Natasha Lyonne (Nicky)
Now, in the event you were living under a rock somewhere far far away from other people, or the Internet for a while, in 1999 there was a wildly popular teen sex comedy called American Pie. It was in this film we met Natasha for the first time as Tara Reid’s no-nonsense, slightly obnoxious (even by American Pie standards) sidekick. She brings that same no-nonsense attitude to her portrayal of Nicky Nichols a mixed up mid twenty something serving time for breaking and entering while also carrying heroin. Her struggle with addiction is a common theme in her 29-episode journey. In the end, old habits die hard, and her involvement with drugs inside Litchfield get her sent to the maximum-security facility down the hill.
7. Natasha Lyonne (Off Set)
While fans have been desperately missing Lyonne’s outspoken Nicky, she has been hard at work adding 6 more credits to her already massive 83-credit portfolio which has now spanned 30 years. Most recently we got to see the less serious side of Lyonne during appearances on the hit series Portlandia in (not shockingly) multiple random sidekick roles. I guess some things never change.
6. Laverne Cox (Sophia)
While there is no debate the other OITNB castmates have provided us with a never-ending supply of emotionally raw performances, none have been able to bring the same level of authenticity that Cox has brought to her portrayal of Sophia Burset. Burset is currently serving time for credit card fraud, credit cards they heavily imply are used to (albeit slightly extravagantly) cover her family’s cost of living after she is ostracized from her community after completing her transition. Cox’s identical twin brother also made a guest appearance in “Lesbian Request Denied” as Burset pre-transition. If that wasn’t heavy enough, this is the same episode we learn that it was her character’s son that reported her to the police.
5. Laverne Cox (Off Set)
Laverne Cox recognizes the platform she has been given and has become one of the most celebrated voices of the transgender community. In 2014 alone, she was awarded the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Stephen F. Kolzak Award, Glamour Award for Woman of the Year, and the Glamour Award for The Advocate. In 2015, Cox made history when she became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. She also just so happens to be the only openly transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine, and the first openly transgender person to have a wax figure at Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas. You go girl!
4. Ruby Rose (Stella Carlin)
Ruby Rose has risen to insane heights of fame since appearing in 8 episodes of Orange is the New Black’s third season. Her character, Stella Carlin, becomes the second beauty left in Piper Chapman’s wake. She also happens to be the second inmate sent to ‘Max’ this season, which has fans desperately praying for plot twist return appearances.
3. Ruby Rose (Off Set)
While her current episode count is much smaller than anyone would like it to be, there has certainly been no shortage of Ruby Rose in the real world. When she’s not Instagramming the most amazing vacations, or DJ-ing completely sold out shows, she managed to find time to play a role in 3 major motion pictures set for release in the next year or so: John Wick: Chapter Two, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage and, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (try not to feel bad that you have the same number of hours in the day, okay?)
If that wasn’t enough to keep her going, in March of this year, the cult favourite, uber edgy makeup mega giant Urban Decay announced Rose as the new face of their brand. While there’s still no word on whether or not she’ll have her own collection, Rose has said she is excited to be “spreading the gospel of ‘beauty with an edge’ around the world.” PREACH
2. Diane Guerrero (Maritza Ramos)
Diane Guerrero brings to life Maritza Ramos, and from the get-go makes it very clear that her sassy mouth will do its very best to put you in your place. She has spent her 30-episode lifespan with her usual sidekick Marisol ‘Flaca’ Gonzales (aka the one with the SERIOUS eyeliner) portrayed by Jackie Cruz. At the beginning of the series the duo was primarily used for comedic relief, but more and more recently their storylines have started tugging at our heartstrings.
1. Diane Guerrero (Off Set)
Off screen Guerrero recently made headlines for her memoir, In the Country We Love: The True Story of a Family Divided. She literally came home one day in 2000 to a completely empty house. Dinner was still on the stove, but her family had been arrested and was in the process of being deported to Columbia. She was born in New Jersey, so she had been left behind in America. She was 14, and with no assistance from the system that had taken her family, she moved from friend’s house to friend’s house, determined to finish high school, and even go to college. She’s spoken openly about the need for change to the system, saying “I would update the visa system, and I would have members in Congress who care about this issue and who want to make changes now and not people who are going to insult us and not people who are going to ignore us. Those are some of the moves I would make.”
On a softer side, Diane has brought her signature sass to Lina, Jane’s best friend and co-worker on the hit series Jane the Virgin, for 18 episodes.
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