10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Cast Of “Orange Is The New Black” That Will Surprise You

June 12, 2014  |  
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How far are you in season two of Orange Is The New Black? As of this moment, I’m on episode five and can’t wait to find some free time so I can get to episode six! With each episode I watch, I find myself more captivated by the lives of the women on this show and their back stories on-screen. But what about off-screen? These ladies are just as interesting outside of the show as they are on it. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the ladies of OITNB.  

Laura Prepon Originally Auditioned For The Role Of Piper

Laura Prepon, aka, “Donna” as I like to call her (from her role on That 70’s Show), cast as Piper Chapman? I can’t see it, and neither could series creator, Jenji Kohan: “She’s such a great actress, but ultimately, I thought, ‘Laura Prepon in prison? I don’t worry about her.” Certainly not in the way viewers first worried for Taylor Schilling as Piper in the first few episodes of season one. There’s just something so bad a** about Prepon…and the fact that she’s 5’10” keeps her from looking too meek…

Uzo Aduba Originally Auditioned To Play Janae, The Track Star

Speaking of who wanted to play what before the show started…Uzo Aduba, who does some incredible work as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, originally wanted to play the smaller role of Janae (occupied by Vicky Jeudy). You know Janae, she’s the super moody black inmate who was once a track star, but let peer pressure get her caught up with the wrong crowds. The role could have been fitting for Aduba, because she was actually a track star at Boston University in real life, but those behind the show had something better in mind for her: Bantu knots and chocolate and vanilla swirl, swirl.

Laverne Cox Got Her Start On Reality TV

Mobile, Alabama’s finest first made a name for herself on television through reality TV programs. She competed to work alongside Sean Combs on the VH1 show (which was actually pretty good and quite intense) I Want To Work For Diddy. She didn’t win the competition, but she won with the network, who broadcast the reality makeover show she produced and starred on called TRANSform Me. It ran for one season in 2010.

Danielle Brooks And Samira Wiley Have Been BFFs Since College

Taystee and Poussey have quite the tight, comical bond on the show, and the chemistry between Danielle Brooks and Samira Wiley probably has a great deal to do with the fact that they’ve known each other for more than six years. The women became good friends while both studying at Julliard and still are. When speaking on the best thing about her newfound fame to Essence, Wiley said it’s having her good friend succeed alongside her, and making more friends with women in the cast along the way.

“I think for me the best part is that we’re not going through it alone. Having Danielle and all these great women on the show who are not big stars before this and have done mainly theater work and are just working actors in New York. Being able to have this big community where we can sit down and have brunch together and talk about the changes that are happening in our lives and have a support system within our cast.”

Kate Mulgrew, Aka, Red, Used To Be On Star Trek

I wasn’t one of the lucky people who grew up with cable in the house, so I watched whatever was on basic television, including Star Trek: Voyager. Kate Mulgrew, known by many as fiery red-head “Red” on OITNB, played Capt. Kathryn Jeanway. Compared to Red, Capt. Jeanway as a character was calm and composed (and had a conservative look), while Red is anything but.

Taryn Manning Is The Cousin Of Eli And Peyton Manning

Known as super religious but super crazy Pennsatucky on the show, in real life, Taryn Manning calls brothers and Super Bowl champs Eli and Peyton Manning her cousins. They’re her second cousins. Clearly there are a lot of talented folks running around in that family.

Michelle Hurst Was In A Coma After A Bad Car Crash Post Season One

As important and interesting a character Miss Claudette was in season one, many people were assuming she would be back for season two (and out of solitary confinement for attacking CO Susan Fischer after her request for parole was denied). She probably would have returned, but the woman who plays her, Michelle Hurst, was in a terrible car accident that put her in a coma for more than two weeks around the Christmas holiday. But the good news is, Hurst woke up from the coma, and not only that, but a fundraising page set up for her raised more than double what she needed to cover her hospital bills, with the help of fans.

Yael Stone Is Actually Australian

Oh, Morello. Despite the Jersey-meets-Staten-Island Italian accent on the show, Yael Stone is actually an Australian actress. Her voice in everyday life is more Naomi Watts than Snooki. check it out below:

Taylor Schilling Stripped…Diapers To Pay The Bills While Waiting For Her Acting Career To Take Off

Before she nabbed the lead role of Piper Chapman on OITNB, and even before she played super fine Zac Efron’s love interest in The Lucky One, Schilling was a nanny for families in Manhattan while she took on acting auditions. Hey, a gal has to pay her bills. But she says that it was actually not the best experience:

“So many stories, so many crazy kids. I had a little kid that I’d pick up from school, and he’d get really upset and lie rigid on the sidewalk. He was just big enough that I couldn’t really wrangle him, so it was a horrible situation. He’d just be lying on the ground, stiff as a board, screaming.”

Natasha Lyonne Is A Good Friend Of Tracee Ellis Ross

Anybody else ever claimed Tracee Ellis Ross as a friend in your head? Well, actress Natasha Lyonne (who plays ladies woman and reformed drug addict Nicky Nichols) is a friend of hers in real life. They’ve done a Funny or Die clip together (Book Club Mafia…hilarious!), performed on stage together for Love, Loss, and What I Wore and can be seen posting pics of their times hanging out together here and there on Instagram.

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