Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gig Alert: Orange Is The New Black (my day in tv prison)

me in prison costume and being handcuffed by a guard.  great day on the set of Orange Is The New Black!

It's been a busy couple of months!  Here's a quick rundown:
1. Besides the temp job (gotta get these bills squared away...), I'm training to get my TESOL certificate to teach English as a foreign language (Mom said, "enough with the secretarial stuff" for a day job and I finally listened!)
2. I booked a tiny part on Chris Rock's latest film project, tentatively titled "Hammy the Bear" (had a cute flirting scene with JB Smoove who is even funnier in person!), 
3. Spent my weekends on set shooting the independent short film called "The Bridge" (so nice to NOT play a stereotype Black female character - had a great time!)
4.  Getting this move together - again.  Ugh, moving is such a pain!
5.  Orange is the New Black.... and that's what I'm blogging about today.  :-)

This week, I got called in to do a nude shower scene on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. They asked me if I'd be ok with nudity and I said yes.  Blame it on having been raised in Italy, Germany and France, but I have no problem being nude around people - not in a sexual way, just in a hey-man-it's-all-nature kinda way.  I'm THAT girl at the gym locker room who's looking at you like you're the freak when you get in the sauna wearing your workout clothes or a bathing suit...  So the requirements for the scene didn't scare me away.  I was just blissfully excited to be working on this awesome show!  The call came in Thursday, the scene was Friday.  I had less than 24 hours to get "shower ready".  If you're a woman, you know the first thing that popped into my mind: BIKINI WAX!  Because I was not about to get caught on camera with bush...this was an emergency, ladies, you know what I mean.  Coincidentally, I'd gone in for one 3 days earlier (at Eve Day Spa, the only place I've trusted with my bikini line since I moved to New York!), but, just my luck, all the waxers were out doing an all-day continuing education seminar (huh?!), so I postponed a week and spent the cash on a something else not thinking I'd need an emergency wax in just 3 days...  So now I had 24hrs to fix my "situation" and not enough cash.  Lesson: Actors, ALWAYS keep a $200 stash for random acting emergencies (transportation, headshot reprints, last minute beauty appointments...).  :-)    

So yesterday, at 7am I reported to Kaufman Astoria studios and .... I had the best day ever!  We started with the shower scene, I was, literally, in the middle of breakfast (that studio has the best crafts services!!!) and suddenly they were calling us up!  We then spent hours naked, being sudsed up with shaving foam and bubbles over and over for each take. Then we spent another few hours in prison uniforms for a scene near the prison commissary.  So that was my day.  Everyone's been asking how it was and what it was like, so here are my observations:

1. Orange is the New Black (OITNB) employs more women on their crew/production team than I've ever seen on any show or film I've worked on.  That is FANTASTIC!  Powerful women in film!!!  A beautiful thing to see.

2. Law and Order SVU used to be the only show shot in NYC that regularly looked for Black actresses and for all these years I've felt like I was the only Black actress they never called (loser!?).  Now, it's OITNB and I'm proud that this time I haven't been left out.  ;-)

3. It's an incredibly rare event to be doing a scene with a dozen other naked Black actresses.  We bonded.  How could we not?  It was like a sorority initiation experience.  I have a group of very cool new friends.

4. I will never be ashamed of my body.  Short, tall, thin, fat, butch, femme, old, young... the sheer force of so many brown skinned women naked in this small space was incredible.  It felt....mighty!  I expected to feel a bit vulnerable being filmed showering in prison would, but instead it was empowering to be around all these proud, cool women.

5. The set is like being on a cruise ship - buffets of all kinds of food everywhere!  I couldn't stop eating (what is it about free food that makes us lose our damn minds?!) Again, best crafty ever.

6. At one point, we were all lined up against the wall, topless with towels wrapped around our waists (waiting to be soaped up with foam and bubbles by the costume ladies) and I looked down the row of us and thought for a second that we looked like a National Geographic photo of some central African republic's tribal ceremony.

7. Prison uniforms are ugly as sin and hideously unflattering, but it's the boots that are truly awful.  Ours must've weighed a good 10lbs each.  It was like walking in cement blocks.  So if you see my episode and I'm walking like a gangster, it's probably just from the sheer weight and discomfort of those damn boots.  ;-)

8. I'm conflicted about sharing when the episode will air.  Yes, I'm proud of the work and super excited to get a foot in the door on this show!  I even shared the news on Facebook, which is something I don't usually do.  But, I'm also conscious of the fact that gawkers will be tuning in to see my lady lumps all nekkid.  And, as fantastic as my tits are (and, darling..., they truly are fantastic) that's not really the point, it is?  So I'm not sure I'll announce the episode date.  I'd rather people tune in for a scene where the focus is on my acting, not my hoo-hah. ;-)

Anyway, it's a hectic time for me, that's why the blogging is spotty, and probably it will be until the end of the year when this move is complete and I'm set up in the new place (not announcing that info 'til I'm there, though - I've learned my lesson!).  But I'm so proud and grateful for all this work.  Things are looking up.  :-)

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