We’ve all seen what the stars of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black look like at their very worst, with their dull prison clothes, makeup-free faces, and distasteful tattoos. But have you ever wondered what these ladies look like in real life when they are not portraying their criminal alter egos on the popular show?
The stars look completely different in the real world, so much so that some of them are pretty unrecognizable, like the ones included on this list. To play their parts, the stars of the show undertake what can only be described as an anti-makeover, with some going as far as shaving their heads and even having their teeth dirtied in order to make their parts all the more believable and realistic. So, take a look at our list below as you are about to be blown away by how starkly different the inmates you have come to know and love look in real life.
15. Emma Myles – Leanne Taylor
Emma Myles portrays the character of Meth Head Leanne Taylor on Orange Is the New Black, a woman who does not have a great overall appearance due to her prolonged drug use. Leanne’s teeth are depicted as being severely discolored and decayed. However, in real life, Myles has perfect teeth making her unrecognizable from the character she plays onscreen. Myles also has much better hair and overall appearance. I’m not quite sure if many know, but before auditioning for Orange Is the New Black, Myles was already good friends with another star of the show, Dascha Polanco, who plays the part of Dayanara Diaz. The pair met when they were both trying out for a guest role in Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit. Myles went on to appear in two episodes of the show, playing a separate character on each occasion.
14. Rosal Colon – Carmen ‘Ouija’ Aziza
Rosal Colon is one of the newer stars of Orange Is the New Black, making her first appearance in season four as the feisty and troublesome Ouija. In the show, the actress can be seen with long knotted brown hair and no makeup. However, in real life, Colon is much more glamorous, making her almost unrecognizable. In real life, the star has much sleeker, glossier locks and a lot more put-together and finished appearance. Apart from her role in Orange Is the New Black, Colon has also made appearances in The Pastor and Law and Order: New York. Ouija is gaining more and more airtime on the show, so who knows what is in store for the character in the next season?
13. Emily Althaus – Maureen Kukudio
Next on our list, we have Emily Althaus who appears in the later seasons of Orange Is the New Black in the role of Maureen Kukudio. One may not realize at first glance that Althaus is in fact the same person as Maureen due to her much more glamorous real-life appearance; onscreen, Althaus can be seen with mousy brown hair but rocks a much more vibrant blonde in real life. This, combined with the actress’ makeup, may allow her to go unnoticed as playing Maureen. Apart from Orange Is the New Black, Althaus has made appearances in Blue Bloods, The Impossibilities, Law and Order, and Togetherness.
12. Jackie Cruz – Marisol ‘Flaca’ Gonzales
Next up, we have Jackie Cruz who plays the part of Flaca. It’s clear that when compared side by side, these two are very different indeed. While playing her onscreen alter ego, Cruz can be seen with very strong makeup that almost always includes thin dark eyeliner and drawn-on teardrop tattoos. In the early episodes of the show, one may even believe that Flaca’s teardrops are real tattoos, but as the episodes go on, it becomes clear that they are simply drawn on and have no gang-related significance. In real life, Cruz usually opts for a much more subtle natural makeup look, which is why someone may not recognize her. Apart from portraying Flaca, Cruz has had a successful music career, writing and singing her own songs from a young age. When the star was only 17, she was involved in a near fatal car crash that saw her suffer a coma and also had to undergo brain surgery. The star penned the track ‘Sweet Sixteen’ about the traumatizing experience.
11. Pablo Schreiber – George ‘P*rnstache’ Mendez
Pablo Schreiber played the part of George Mendez, or P*rnstahce, as he’s more commonly referred to in the early seasons of Orange Is the New Black. Schreiber’s character is a corrupt and often perverted prison guard who constantly abuses his power. P*rnstache’s most notable feature, and the reason for his nickname, is his unforgettable moustache which makes the character even creepier. Schreiber, on the other hand, looks very different from his onscreen character once the moustache and square hair are taken away. It truly is hard to believe that this is even the same person. Apart from his appearance in Orange Is the New Black, you may have recognize Schreiber as having played the part of the Polish-American character Nick Sobotka on HBO’s drug-related crime drama, The Wire. The actor has also been previously nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Awake and Sing! on Broadway.
10. Jessica Pimentel – Maria Ruiz
Jessica Pimentel plays the part of the stubborn realist, Maria Ruiz, on Orange Is the New Black. It’s clear that Maria has been hardened by her past experiences and by the fact that her newborn daughter was taken away from her just minutes after being born in the prison. For these reasons, Maria is often seen looking angry and irritated, which is why you may not recognize the more bright and cheerful Pimentel as having played the role. In fact, we rarely see Maria smile at all on the show, and the only time she ever seems to show any type of softness is when she is around her boyfriend and baby. It’s plain to see in real life, though, that Pimentel is very different. The actress is a graduate of the High School of the Performing Arts (a.k.a fame) in New York, and before being cast as Maria, she was a member of the band Alekhine Gun which saw her travel around the U.S. and Japan as a classical singer and violinist.
9. Francesca Curran – Helen Van Maele
You may not recognize Francesa Curran as playing the part of skinhead Helen van Maele in the latest two seasons of Orange is the new Black. Francesca and her character have starkly different looks. In the show, Helen is portrayed as a tattooed white supremacist. But in real life, you may not even recognize Francesca as being the same person. To play the role of Helen, Francesca agreed to actually shave her head bald and also endure hours of makeup to get Helen’s numerous tattoos applied. Francesca graduated from The American Musical and Dramatics Academy trained in Musical Theater. However, apart from a Warner Bra’s commercial, Orange Is the new Black is the actress’ first official role. It’s clear that this is a good starting place for the star as the show is adored by millions of fans and will make van Maele an extremely recognizable face. Well, sort of.
8. Yael Stone – Lorna Morello
Yael Stone has been portraying Lorna Morello from the first episode of Orange Is the New Black up until the most recent. While playing Lorna, Stone is constantly seen rocking a retro glam look, including red lips, winged eyeliner, and wavy hair. In real life, however, the actress usually opts for a more modern makeup look like smokey eyes and more neutral lips. Another thing you may not have realized is that in real life, Stone is Australian. It’s hard to imagine anything but the actress speaking in the Italian-American accent which we have become so accustomed to hearing from Lorna. Before being cast in Orange Is the New Black, Stone worked extensively in Australian theater and has won two Sydney Theater Awards.
7. Adrienne C. Moore – Cindy Hayes
Cindy Hayes, or “Black Cindy,” as she’s often referred to in order to avoid confusion with another Cindy in Litchfield who is white and looks very different than the real-life woman who plays her. This is mainly down to Cindy’s various hairstyles that we see throughout the show, including giant pigtail-style buns. In real life, Moore opts for more understated hairstyles and usually has perfect makeup applied. Apart from her role as Cindy, Moore has popped up in different shows, including Blue Bloods, 30 Rock, Law & Order, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Moore has also starred in the movie The Lennon Report, which deals with the events revolving around the shooting of John Lennon in 1980.
6. Uzo Aduba
You may or may not recognize Uzo Aduba as having played the part of Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren on Orange Is the New Black as she does look quite different from her onscreen alter ego. When we were first introduced to Crazy Eyes in the show, we see her as being main character Piper’s stalker, but as the seasons progress, she turns into one of the show’s most lovable and often misunderstood characters. Uzo has won a string of awards for her outstanding portrayal of her onscreen character, including An Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014, an Emmy Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama series in 2015, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series in 2014 and 2015. Remarkably, Uzo is one of only two actors to win an Emmy Award recognition in both the comedy and drama categories for the same role, which highlights just what a talented and versatile actress Uzo really is.
5. Taryn Manning – Tiffany ‘Pennsatucky’ Doggett
As the seasons of Orange Is the New Black progress, we see Taryn Manning’s character, Doggett, become more recognizable to her real-life self. In the early seasons, though, the pair are miles apart. Season one Doggett has long brown hair and quite terrible teeth, a strong contrast to the real-life Taryn. However, Doggett’s storyline on the show allows her character’s appearance to improve a great deal after she cuts her hair and gets the government to fund her oral surgery. Taryn is still a great deal more glamorous than her prison alter ego, though, and has much more well-styled blonde hair in real life. Prior to appearing on Orange is the New Black, Taryn had many notable movie and TV appearances, including Crossroads, The 8 Mile, White Oleander, A lot like Love, Sons of Anarchy, and Hawaii Five-O.
4. Dascha Polanco – Dayanara Diaz
Dascha Polanco plays the character of Dayanara Diaz in Orange Is the New Black, a character who has been a central part of the show’s storyline since day one. In real life, Polanco doesn’t look extremely different from her onscreen alter ego, but it’s still quite possible that one would not recognize the actress as playing her onscreen character straight away. In the show, Polanco’s character is seen wearing no makeup and prison clothing, so when one see’s the star looking glamorous on a red carpet, they may have to take a second look before realizing who it is. Polanco has spoken out in the past how she always loved acting, but “always doubted auditioning because of [her] weight.” After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and working as a nurse for a short period of time, the star finally gave acting a proper go. After a few smaller roles, Polanco was cast in Orange Is the New Black back in 2012.
3. Julie Lake – Angie Rice
Angie Rice is one of the most disheveled inmates at Litchfield with her greasy tangled hair and semi-rotted teeth. Angie does not seem to care much for her personal hygiene. Her teeth are likely in such bad condition due to her prolonged drug use (mainly meth), which is also likely the reason she found herself in prison in the first place. In real life, Julie Lake, who plays the Meth Head, has a much different look that includes perfect teeth and perfect skin. It is likely that one would not even place these two as being the same person. Before being cast in the show, Lake worked as a comic writer and performer. This makes it all the more clear as to why Lake won the part of Angie, as she is a character that regularly brings comic relief to the show.
2. Kate Mulgrew – Galina ‘Red’ Resnikov
Kate Mulgrew’s Orange Is the New Black character goes by the name of Red and has a very unique appearance that includes short poofed red hair, bright red lipstick, and winged black eyeliner. Nevertheless, in real life, Mulgrew’s makeup look couldn’t be more different, with its soft understated tones. In real life, the actress still has red hair but it’s a lot subtler and it’s for this reason that many may find a big difference between Mulgrew and Red. Prior to appearing in Orange Is the New Black, the star gained recognition for her roles in Star Trek: Voyager and Ryan’s Hope.
1. Laura Gomez – Blanca Flores
Laura Gomez is one of the most striking cases on this list in terms of how far apart her physical appearance is from her onscreen character, Blanca Flores. In the show, Blanca is known around Litchfield for her unkempt appearance. The inmate is portrayed as having a uni brow, long matted black hair, and some sort of dislike towards showering. It is in the latest season of Orange Is The New Black that we finally see Blanca start to resemble the real-life woman who plays her, after she undergoes an extensive makeover that sees her uni brow gone for the time being and a full face of makeup applied. Prior to being cast as Blanca Flores, Gomez had a number of roles in Spanish theater. However, Orange Is the New Black is the actress’ first onscreen role.
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