The 22nd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards took place on Jan. 30, 2016, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Here is what these Screen Actors Guild Award winners said backstage in the Screen Actors Guild Awards press room.
“ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK”
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Adrienne, you had a conversion storyline that was so incredibly touching. Where did you find the inspiration for that, and how did it change you?
Adrienne C. Moore: I think art imitates life, and vice versa. For me, personally, I was going through a spiritual journey as an artist and as a person. So, it was really interesting to let it feed its way into Cindy’s story. At the end of the day, regardless of what your religious proclivities are, or the lack thereof, I think what I take away from Black Cindy’s story that season is that doing God is doing love. I think if we all take time to love each other more and see that and recognize that in our differences, there are always a lot of similarities, I think this would be a much better, better place.
How do you get in the mood or character as an actor?
Laura Prepon: I think everybody’s process is different. That’s what’s so amazing about our job. It’s about the individual, and every single person brings something different to the role. And everyone has a different process.
Lori Petty: Some people act crazy before a shot. Some people are very, very quiet. You just do you, and then … that’s how we make art.
You mentioned diversity in your acceptance speech. What can the film industry learn from the TV industry, in terms of being more diverse?
Marsha Stephanie Blake: Representing real life. Television has stayed with the times. Television is doing a very good job of representing life as we know it, especially recent television. It seems like people are a little more competitive on TV. And it seems like people are really stepping up to the plate, in terms of representing stories for and by everyone.
Catherine Curtin: It’s also about accessibility. I think TV is super-accessible to just about everyone. And sometimes, people can’t get to those films, which is sad and a shame. TV is right in your home. And at 4 o’clock in the morning, if you’re a mom, and the baby just woke you up and you can’t get back to sleep, you can turn on the television. Sometimes being a mom is a lonely job, and that TV can be there for you. I think TV has a way of healing and making us laugh and telling us stories that are our stories, and reaching to us in our own homes in our most private moments.
Laverne Cox: I should also add that this show happened at Netflix four years ago, when streaming shows weren’t a thing. Jenji [Kohan, creator of “Orange Is the New Black”] has said that this show probably couldn’t have happened on a network four years ago, but now probably it can, because streaming networks like Netflix and others have led the way. So that’s really what it’s all about: changing and revolutionizing television. And I think that’s what Netflix has done. And I think that’s what our show has done, if I must be so bold.
Do you have any comment on the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ recent announcement that it plans to dramatically increase the number of members who are women and minorities?
Petty: It’s a start.
Selenis Leyva: It’s a start, but the problem starts before the Academy Awards. The problems start in the writing rooms, in the studios. The producers and directors and casting people need to open up their eyes that this is a different world we’re living in. Diversity is not just black and white. Diversity is universal. It’s a lot more than what we are focusing on. It’s religion, it’s sexuality. It doesn’t start at the Academy Awards. That’s not the solution. The solution starts before that.
How do you hope “Orange Is the New Black” trailblazes for other shows, in terms of diversity?
Moore: I think this show already has. I think the show has not only opened up the conversation, but it has started the process of the conversation in the writers’ room.
Samira Wiley: I think what Jenji has done for a lot years before our show came out is what you see on TV, especially for women on TV, is this silhouette of an ideal that a lot of people cannot reach. What Jenji has done with “Orange Is the New Black” is put women in front of you, on your TV screens, in your homes, that look like a rainbow, basically. All of us are from different backgrounds, we have different stories. We have different body types. We have different beliefs and goals in life. For her to put that on TV, it took us to see that and say, “Oh, people will watch that. That is what people will want to see. It’s what people see on the street. It’s a mirrored reflection of what life is.”
Leyva: You will make money. People will tune in. You will make money.
Lea DeLaria: When you’ve been out as long as I’ve been out and doing the work that I have done for over 30 years, being this individual, what is exciting to me is that we’re even having this conversation. Because I can tell you even five years ago, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. That we’re even having this conversation is a win for the good guys.
“Orange Is the New Black” films in New York. Have you discovered anything about New York, in terms of where people should visit?
Jackie Cruz: Taking the subway is the fastest way to get anywhere. So forget about Uber. That’s what we do. We go to work and take the subway.
Michael Chernus: In New York, go to the off-Broadway theaters. Go to the off-off-Broadway theaters. So many people who have been up here on the last couple of stages started in the off-off-Broadway theaters. Many of us have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to be on Broadway. And it is one of those cultural institutions that does not exist at that level anywhere in America. If you are in New York, go see a show that you wouldn’t think you would see.
Cruz: Go see “The Color Purple.”
“Orange Is the New Black” is probably the most diverse cast in television right now.
Dale Soules: Absolutely. It reflects the society that we’re living in: age, race, socioeconomic strata, body type. And it doesn’t just lean on the prisoner like a bleeding-heart liberal. It looks at the administrators. It looks at the lives of the guards — all human beings with good and bad.
Jessica Pimentel: It’s our job as actors to hold up a mirror to that world we live in and show a reflection of who we are. How can we do that without properly reflecting us?
Cruz: We’re finally watching ourselves. I never saw anyone who looked like me on TV, and I thought it was really impossible. It’s really amazing how now we get to watch ourselves on television. And that’s why our show is so popular. People actually connect with us. My tia is on there.
Vicky Jeudy: And I believe the fact that it’s so popular and society likes it, I think it’s a reflection of where we’re headed toward in Hollywood. So it’s only a matter of time before everyone embraces diversity.
For more info: Screen Actors Guild Awards website
RELATED LINKS ON byteclay.com:
Screen Actors Guild Award interviews