Where Are They Now: The Queer Actors and Characters of OITNB
Ten years ago this month, Orange Is the New Black (“Orange”)premiered on Netflix, and cemented a new era of queer and streaming television. After 91 episodes, seven seasons, 21 Emmy nominations and four wins, the show ended in July 2019. The series forever changed the representation of queer women on television.
A decade after its premiere, here are what the queer actors and characters of Orange have been up to.
After one Emmy nomination, two Golden Globe nominations, and three Satellite Awards for her role as bisexual prisoner Piper Chapman, Taylor Schilling has acted in a number of shows including Pam & Tommy, Pantheon, and Dear Edward. In June 2020, Schilling came out on Instagram after reposting a story from her girlfriend Emily Ritz.
Laverne Cox made history on Orange, starring as incarcerated trans hairdresser Sophia Burset and becoming the first trans person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category. Since the show ended in 2019, Cox has appeared on Inventing Anna and The Blacklist and acted in films like Promising Young Woman and Charlie’s Angels. In 2020, she executive produced a documentary on trans representation in Hollywood called Disclosure, and in 2022, she replaced Giuliana Ranic as the host of E!’s Live from the Red Carpet.
In the second half of Orange, Beth Dover plays Linda Ferguson, the senior Vice President for the corrections company managing Litchfield Penitentiary, and a lover of “Big Boo.” After Orange, she has had many roles, including a nurse on the TV series Medical Police as well as a character in Iliza Shlesinger’s Netflix comedy, Good on Paper.
Dasha Polanco played Dayanara "Daya" Diaz, the daughter of inmate Aleida Diaz and a lover to Domiga "Daddy" Duarte. In the last several years, Polanco has had roles alongside Lyonne in Russian Doll and Poker Face and has also appeared in films like The Irishman and In The Heights as well as TV shows like Karma’s World and Gordita Chronicles.
Kimiko Glenn has had a busy few years since playing pansexual inmate Brook Soso on Orange. In the last several years, she has voiced numerous animated characters on shows including BoJack Horseman, Summer Camp Island, and Kiff. From 2018 to 2021, she appeared on the web television series Liza On Demand, and during her run on Orange, she originated the role of Dawn in Sara Bareilles’ Broadway smash, Waitress.
During seasons four through seven of Orange, comedian and actress Emily Tarver played correctional officer Bambi Artesian McCullough, who has a relationship with Alex Vause. After Orange, Tarver appeared on two episodes of The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show and three episodes of the Starz comedy, Run the World
In the last several years, Laura Prepon, who played Piper Chapman’s love interest Alex Vause, has had her own love story: getting married, having two kids, and writing a memoir-handbook called You and I, as Mothers: A Raw and Honest Guide to Motherhood. Earlier this year, Prepon also reprised her role as Donna Pinciotti in That ‘90s Show, a spinoff of That ‘70s Show.
A household name in the lesbian community, Lea DeLaria had an incredible run as butch inmate Carrie “Big Boo” Black on Orange. Since the show came to a close, DeLaria has appeared on TV series like Reprisal and Kippo and the Age of Wonderbeasts and the podcast series Marvel’s Wastelanders: Hawkeye. In 2022, she appeared on Broadway in the play POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive. She also recently executive produced The Lesbian Bar Project, which celebrates the remaining lesbian bars in the U.S.
Natasha Lyonne is straight, but that hasn’t kept her from being considered a lesbian icon and playing queer characters like Nicky Nichols from Orange. In the four years since Orange ended, Lyonne played the lead character in Russian Doll, a hilarious dark comedy with an unforgiving time loop. Earlier this year, she also starred in the murder mystery series Poker Face, which earned her an Emmy nomination.
Australian model and actress Ruby Rose made a name for herself, in part thanks to her role as genderfluid inmate Stella Carlin, who has a fling with Piper in season 3. Following their short stint on Orange, Rose starred in the first season of Batwoman as the show’s titular character. In 2016, she received GLAAD's Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is given to an LGBTQ+ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ+ acceptance.
Since leaving the main cast of Orange after her character Poussey’s untimely death in Season 4, Samira Wiley landed another queer role in The Handmaid’s Tale, which garnered four Emmy nominations, including one win. In March 2017, Wiley married Lauren Morelli, a producer and writer on Orange. The two welcomed a baby girl into their lives in April 2021.
Uzo Aduba was hugely successful in her role as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in Orange, winning two Emmy Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. After Orange, Aduba played Shirley Chisholm in the miniseries Mrs. America, which earned her a Critic’s Choice Award and an Emmy Award,and played therapist Dr. Brooke Taylor on In Treatment. In 2022, she also earned a Tony nomination for her role in the Broadway play Clyde’s.
After a coming in third place on The Voice in 2011, out lesbian Vicci Martinez’s first major acting gig was playing Dominga “Daddy' Duarte” on the sixth and seven seasons of Orange. Earlier this year, she voiced the part of Frida Kahlo on the animated science fiction series, Clone High.
Australian actress Yael Stone was initially supposed to be on only one episode of Orange, but ended up playing Lorna Morello for 88 of the show’s 91 episodes. Since Orange ended in 2019, Stone appeared in the TV series Firebite and in films like Blaze and Blacklight. Stone currently has two children and runs an environmental non-profit organization called Hi Neighbour, which works to bring Australians into low carbon jobs.