EXCLUSIVE: Dascha Polanco Talks About Her Role on Netflix’s ‘Orange is the New Black’

In the show, groups are divided amongst themselves and you fall into the “Latina” group. What have you brought to the character from your own personal experiences? Anything?

You know what’s funny, I grew up in a predominantly black area with some Dominicans. And in Miami, it’s really segregated. So that segregation I observed, I brought that to the table. Those past experiences of being part of a group, and not part of another.

What are the similarities between you and Daya? Differences?

Daya has a good heart. And regardless of her childhood and her mom, she doesn’t hold any grudges, and I tend to live my life that way. I think you really get a sense of Daya after you see her flashback with her mom. She’s taking care of her siblings, she’s dealing with a mom who isn’t there for them, and you get it. You have compassion for her. Other than that, though, Daya and I are pretty much opposites. Also, I’ve never been in jail!

This is a really female-centric cast. What’s it been like to work with everyone? Who have you bonded with on set the most?

I have bonded with Uzo Aduba [who plays 'Crazy Eyes'], Danielle Brooks [who plays 'Taystee'], Samira Wiley [who plays 'Poussey'], Jackie Cruz [who plays 'Flaca']… everyone! You know what? It’s so weird because we have so many women on the set, we all have our moments and moods, there’s no getting around that, but we’re all so passionate about this project. Natasha Lyonne said it best, she was saying that there are so many people on this project, that you have to all have the same passion for the goal. And everyone on this show has really strived for this. It’s really magical, the relationships on and off camera. Everyone just respects each other.  We share something now that’s really special.

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