“Orange Is the New Black” stars Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne, Kate Mulgrew, Taryn Manning and Michael Harney gathered at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills on Thursday to look back on last season before the upcoming season 4. Show creator and executive producer Jenji Kohan was set to attend, but wasn’t present at the event. The cast was, however, tight-lipped about the upcoming season.
“We never know what’s coming,” said Lyonne about Kohan’s writing.
It’s unclear whether Lyonne returns for this season, given her character’s early exit in the last season. Also to be determined is whether Piper continues with her “Felonius Spunk” business as a panty entrepeneur.
“I think that Piper took that dynamic and enjoyed it, so I think it continues on,” said Schilling.
“I love it when letting go of all preconceptions and all ideas for the actor and for the characters as to what may or may not happen. It’s exciting to have such a turn like the one this season,” she added. “The stories that Jenji and team give me are such concrete ways to externalize what’s happening inside her.”
The show hits home for Selenis Leyva, whose character, Gloria, has a trans-phobic outburst towards Sophia Burset, played by transgender actress Laverne Cox.
“For me it was really difficult. I have a transgender sister and I’ve always been a supporter, an ally of the LGBT community, and more so because of what’s happening,” she said.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t fear for my sister. The fact that Jenji and her team were able to write the character of Sophia so beautifully says a lot about the care that these women put into these storylines. It started a lot of conversations, which is also beautiful,” she added.
Working on a show like this doesn’t bring about the same pressures that other shows have, like “who has the bigger boobs or who looks better in the pencil skirt.” But rather it’s about a band of misfits that have a lot of mutual respect for each other and the hard work.
“It’s heavenly to go on set and it be about the art. I’m obsessed with all of the people on the show and each one of them makes me want to be better,” said Leyva.
“Orange Is the New Black” season 4 premieres June 17 on Netflix.