This is a guest post by my husband Dave who was invited to attend the Orange is The New Black episode being filmed as part of #StreamTeam #OITNB.
The sky outside was gray and the air was cold. You could tell by looking at the clouds that they were ready to open up with some precipitation. Snow was my guess and after getting into my car and beginning to drive my guess proved to be correct. The wind also began to blow and the snow was coming down from left to right across the road. The visibility wasn’t too bad and the snow wasn’t sticking to the ground for now. I was headed to Kaufman Astoria Studios in Astoria, Queens that was about 4 miles from my home. Not much of a distance but with traffic and stop lights it would take me about 30-40 minutes to get there. I wasn’t too concerned since I left some extra time in my schedule to allow for traffic and bad weather conditions.
You’re probably wondering why I was driving to Kaufman Astoria Studios on a cold snowy day? Well you see I’m part of the Netflix Stream Team and they invited me to a special all-day event on the set of the Netflix Original “Orange is the New Black”. For those of you that are not familiar with the show I have to ask, “Have you been living under a rock?” Okay, I’m kidding with you. It’s just that Orange is the New Black or #OITNB for short is one of my favorite series to watch on Netflix. The series is based on a memoir written by Piper Kerman and it details her experiences while being incarcerated in a federal correctional facility in Connecticut. As a young woman Piper had delivered a suitcase of drug money for her then lesbian lover and ten years later she found her self being sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Netflix has turned her story into a series that is available to you free if you subscribe to Netflix streaming. When I first found #OITNB on Netflix I wasn’t sure if I wanted to add another series to the list of shows I was already watching. I was reluctant at first but eventually added it to my watch list. Several months later after having some downtime from the other shows I Was watching I decided to give it a try. As I began watching the first episode I quickly realized that this was a show for me. I mean come on I’m a guy and this show is primarily about girls in prison. How could I not like it? All kidding aside the show is wonderfully directed and written and the actors that were chosen to play the parts really bring the characters to life. It is really fascinating the way the story goes in and out of the prison to show you what the characters lives were like before they got to prison, and what they did to get in trouble in the first place. Of course the main character in the show is Piper and the storyline spends much time following her life and the relationship she has with her fiancée while she is locked up. However the show also goes into the lives of the other prisoners that are locked up with Piper. This to me is where things really get interesting.
Now I could definitely spend allot of time talking about all of the episodes I saw, which was all of them. I watched the entire season in about a week and a half. I was binge watching like 2-3 episodes a night. I have to tell you the show is quite addictive. Anyway I don’t want to giveaway too many details about the show since some of my readers may still be watching the series and some of you may still have it on your to do list. So now let me get back to my special day. When I arrived over at Kaufman Astoria Studios the snow was beginning to accumulate but I was determined to not let it affect my spirit. I walked over several blocks from where I parked my car to the restaurant where I was to meet the rest of the Stream Team and have a quick bite to eat. We met at a place called The Queens Kickshaw located on Broadway in Astoria. We all ordered lunch which was delicious BTW.
After that we were brought over to Kaufman Astoria Studios, which was only a few blocks away from the restaurant. As we walked up the block to the entrance you could see all of the movie studio trucks and production vehicles. After checking in with the front desk security we were all given name tags and then we waited for everyone else from our group. As we were standing there in the lobby we saw some of the cast members pass by dressed in their orange prison uniforms. I remember getting a bit nervous when I wondered about whom I might run into while I was waiting. Shortly thereafter “Yoga” Jones one of the cast members played by Constance Shulman came down the stairs with Emma Myles who plays Leanne Taylor. I waved and called her over and we talked a bit. I actually had met Constance at a writing class that we both took several years prior. It was nice to see her and say hello. It’s great to see people that you have met before doing well and enjoying what they are doing.
The Stream Team and I were then taken upstairs to a large conference room for our debriefing by our Stream Team leaders. We were told that we would be getting to meet two cast members and that we would have a chance to take pictures with them. They also told us that the two cast members would autograph a gift copy of the “Orange is The New Black” book for us. After that we would take a tour of the shows wardrobe department and then later on we would be able to take a tour of the set. Finally we would get to watch them film a scene or two for the upcoming season two of Orange is The New Black.
After waiting for a bit Dascha Polanco who plays inmate Dayanara (Daya) Diaz and Matt McGorry who plays prison guard John Bennett were brought into the conference room. I have to say right away I could tell that they were two very down to earth people. They were both smiling and saying hello to everyone it was great seeing them off screen. Dascha was not in costume but Matt was wearing his prison guard uniform. In the show their characters get romantically involved and they become one of the really interesting stories to follow. You can also see that they have some off screen chemistry as well. I always wondered how actors who have on screen romances interact with each other off the set. Well for these two it’s obvious that they get along nicely.
After introductions were made the Stream Team photographer set up Dascha and Matt in the corner of the room to take pictures with all of the bloggers. We each got a turn to pose with them. Here is the picture of the three of us:
After the photos they both sat down at the middle of the conference table and We had the opportunity to interview them while they autographed our book copies. One of the first things they spoke about was how they got involved in acting, specifically Orange is the New Black. Matt McGorry shared that he had been involved with entertainment on some level since he was a young kid. Also he wasn’t sure how successful the show was going to be at the beginning. He was very humble and grateful to see that OITNB has become so successful and looked forward to the future of the show. Dascha shared the same sentiment when speaking of the show. She told me that prior to being called down to work on OITNB she was working in a hospital and going to nursing school while taking care of her two kids. Dascha said that it was a difficult decision to leave her job and school since no one really knew if Orange is The New Black #OITNB would be a hit. She definitely shared Matt’s enthusiasm for the success of the show and was humbled by her new found stardom. Dascha shared that she still felt like a normal everyday person even though people were starting to recognize her when she traveled through the city. Speaking of traveling through the city I think I heard her joke with Matt about him not being able to drive. I also thought I heard her say that she would teach him at some point. I then asked them if they had any special contact with former inmates or consultants on the set to help them get into their roles. Matt said that most of his direction has come from the fabulous writing for the show. That the director and quality of the writing really helps him get into his role as prison guard John Bennett. Dascha and Matt also spoke about how reading the book “Orange is The New Black”, was also important in understanding the characters and the feel of the show.
To be continued… More Orange is the New Black set coverage is coming tomorrow
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