As season three of the Netflix prison hit “Orange Is the New Black” was released to the world early on June 11, hundreds of diehard fans were reveling in the first ever OrangeCon in New York on Thursday. The invitation-only event brought the cast (visibly absent was show creator Jenji Kohan), show inspiration Piper Kerman and their biggest fans face-to-face for some quality time via autograph signings and a panel discussion.
Samira Wiley just returned from Brazil with co-stars Natasha Lyonne and Uzo Aduba, bringing “Orange” to Sao Paolo. “It was my first time really experiencing the fan presence globally and not like a small bit of the globe,” Wiley said. “It was just really, really amazing. And also showed how much it means to be able to connect to the fans and how much it means to them, and how much more they can feel like this is ours. This is our own.”
At the OrangeCon, Skylight Clarkson SQ transformed into Litchfield prison complete with re-creations of the inmate bunkbeds, commissary and dinner served a la assembly line by servers in hairnets. All the while, a rotation of fan art projected on the wall as everyone waited for the panel to start. Moderated by Marie Claire’s Anne Fulenwider, the panel kicked off with fun banter about cooking chicken with beer (a skill Kate Mulgrew, who plays former Litchfield head cook and all-around badass Red on the show, knows well), Kerman’s transition out of prison and other fun topics, but was barely audible due to low microphones and an overexcited crowd. The conversation inevitably led to LGBT issues and Caitlyn Jenner.
“You guys are making change happen by living visibly and being yourselves,” Laverne Cox said to the fans.
Wiley expounded on the point she made earlier, “I think that a lot of people have been represented on television, and ‘Orange’ makes them feel like they belong. ‘Orange’ makes them feel seen.”
Lea DeLaria recounted her most memorable fan interaction. “I was walking down the street on Knickerbocker — I live in Bushwick — passing Ace Hardware, and the woman who works there ran screaming out of the Ace Hardware asking me to sign a screwdriver. Little did I know that would become a thing,” she said. “I’ve signed 40 or 50 of them since the show came out. Which brings me to the question, ‘Where the f— are these screwdrivers coming from?’ Women pull them out of their purses! Is this a new accessory?”
The ladies of Litchfield each took a moment during their turn to speak to thank the fans for coming out and continued support of the show.
“Coming here today was a moment. It is a moment,” said Selenis Leyva. “You guys kick a–.”