Since season three of “Orange Is the New Black” premiered last month, the clear breakout star has been Ruby Rose. It’s not just the Australian actress’ stunning looks; Rose brings a real swagger and humor to the character of Stella, an inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary who comes between Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Laura Prepon). In real life, Rose is happily engaged to fashion designer Phoebe Dahl, granddaughter of author Roald Dahl.
Rose came to prominence in her native country as a recording artist and MTV VJ before moving two years ago to America, where she says she struggled to find work. She credits her short film “Break Free,” which she wrote and produced, with putting her on the radar of “Orange” creator Jenji Kohan, and she calls Stella “the biggest role of her career.”
(SPOILER ALERT: “Orange Is the New Black” season 3 spoilers below)
You credit your short film “Break Free” with helping you land your role on “Orange.”
It had to have been. I couldn’t get a manager when I got here, I couldn’t get an agent, I couldn’t get an audition. I started making my own short films as a way of being able to give myself something to do and to study my craft. Then the film went viral and getting millions of hits. And I got an email from Jenji’s office about auditioning for Stella. I just can’t imagine how I could have gone under the radar in America for two years and then I release the short and I get this audition for a character that I think has quite a few similarities to the character I’m portraying in the short.
Was the role of Stella written for an Australian or did they change the character to fit you?
It’s wasn’t. It’s kind of rare [that] anything is written for an Australian. With most auditions, they try to get you to do it in a standard American accent, so I auditioned in a standard American accent. They obviously found out I was Australian and I think they toyed with the idea on and off for a while. And they were never really sure until the day that I got to set. They said, “Actually we’re going to go with Australian, we think it’s going to be really fun.”
On your first day of shooting?
Yes. So can you imagine? I’ve landed a role in arguably one of the biggest television shows in the world that I’m a big fan of and I think I’m playing an American so I have this dialect coach I was training with every day to nail the accent. And I get there and everything I had learned I had to unlearn in 20 seconds. But I’m really glad because it allowed them to take some liberties in the script using some lingo and even jokes involving dingos. Being able to play an Australian in an American-based show is also really cool; there aren’t many Australians playing Australians on TV.
How do you feel about some of those jokes, like when they compared you to Justin Bieber – what was your reaction when you read that?
It was pretty funny. I’m reading the script and so invested in everybody’s relationships in the show. So I’m reading it so thoroughly and I get to that line and couldn’t help but laugh uncontrollably for some time. To read one of my favorite characters, Alex, call me Justin Bieber, was so funny. There was another time in the show when someone called me a “dingo f—er.” That was pretty funny.
When we last saw Stella, Piper had framed her as payback for stealing her money. Do you think she deserved that fate?
That’s a tough one. I obviously don’t think she deserved quite that fate. Stella had done her time and was ready to get out. It wasn’t the wisest thing for her to steal from Piper but having said that, Stella comes from nothing. She has no money, no help on the outside, and I think this is what happens when you’ve done time in prison and you’re about to go into the real world. It’s not easy.
Any word yet on if you’ll be back for season four?
I don’t actually know. With Jenji, literally anything could happen. But I think they’ve already started shooting in New York and I’m obviously not in those episodes. I think if Stella were to come back, it would be a pretty hefty storyline. She wouldn’t just be coming back happy about the situation.
There’s a lot of talk about you being the Internet’s new “girl crush.” How do you feel about statements like that?
It’s so weird. It’s very flattering and very sweet but it is very weird. I think Stella is more the girl crush, she’s so cool and doesn’t care what people think about her and I’m a much more dweeby, nerdy version of Stella. What I think is cool is that its allowed people watching the show to get to know me. If being someone’s girl crush is going to bring people to watch the work that I do, then that’s a bonus. And it means that my fiancée has been extra sweet to me because she thinks people like me now.