SAG Award Winning ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Stars Share Their Advice for Actors

Last night at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, the Orange is the New Black cast took home the prize for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a TV Comedy Series.  This past year, Master Chat was lucky enough to interview eight of the show’s stars.  Here you can read the advice Kimiko Glenn, Lea DeLaria, Dascha Polanco, and more have for aspiring actors.  (Click the actor’s name to read the full interview.)

1) Kimiko Glenn, “Brook Soso”


“There’s so much I’ve learned from doing this for the past eight years. I would say the main thing that I learned is persistence is key. If you keep going, if you love it enough, and you just chip away, you will have your moment. Every one of my friends who’s been doing this, everyone has their own journeys, it’s not an immediate thing. That’s a hard thing to swallow because we just want it now. It does take time and not everyone is an overnight sensation. If you keep going, if you believe in yourself enough, if want to do it enough, keep going. Whether it’s now or in three years or in 20 years, you’ll have your time. Every one of my friends has had their time or will have their time. I know they will because they’re brilliant and need to have it. It just takes the right project, the right role. You can never predict that. You have to do it for the love of it and not for the successes: the fame, the magazine covers. It’s not about that at the end of the day. If that’s the end goal, you’ll probably be disappointed because it’s so rare and it doesn’t happen immediately. You have to love it enough to keep going during the hard times. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve learned.”

2) Lea DeLaria, “Big Boo”


“Okay, well first of all, learn how to bartend or wait tables. [Lea laughs] That’s the first thing. And the second thing, on a very serious note, the most important thing in this industry, the most important thing, is stick-to-itiveness. If you give up, you’ll never make it. You have to believe in yourself, you have to love yourself, and don’t give up. That’s my advice.”





3) Mike Houston, “CO Lee Dixon”

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“Make sure you’re doing this because your heart, mind, and soul can imagine doing nothing else, and be patient. So many things are out of your control in this business. Just work to become a master of your craft. Most importantly, don’t forget to live in the moment and enjoy the journey.”





4) Jessica Pimentel, “Maria Ruiz”

JessicaPimentel“Don’t do it! No, I’m kidding, I’m kidding [Jessica laughs]. There’s a lot of advice. Don’t ever compromise yourself. Don’t do anything that you are not okay with, especially young women who are asked to do nudity often. Whatever your level is of comfort, it’s okay. You don’t have to adjust because something’s being offered to you. Don’t forget who you are. Don’t demean yourself. Don’t degrade yourself. If you’re cool with walking around naked—I know people who don’t care at all—that’s great. If you’re not okay with it, then it’s okay to not be okay with it. If you’re in something that’s especially violent and it’s not for you, don’t do it. Trust your gut on everything. You never want to look back and think, ‘I wish I never did that project or that photo shoot or went to that person’s house.’ You should never look back and regret anything you did. Be true to yourself. Respect yourself. Demand respect.

Also, have a life outside of acting. There are people whose self worth is about how many jobs they get. It’s going to be few and far between at some points. At other points, you can’t hang up the phone fast enough, you can’t say no fast enough. It goes up and down. Make sure you have a good spiritual life, family life, or close friends who are not in the business. Make sure you have activities to do—other things outside of the business. Life is worth living. This is one aspect of it. This is an exceptionally difficult career path to choose. If you just want to act, you can write your own material and act all day long wherever you want. If you want to make it your career, it’s going to be a little bit more difficult: full of disappointments, full of ups and downs. Be okay with up and down. Up and down is not bad or good—they’re just ups and downs.”

5) Alan Aisenberg, “Baxter Bayley”

alan-aisenberg “Make shit. Go find people who you like and who you have similar tastes with. Or maybe find people who you don’t have similar tastes with and try something different. It’s so easy today to make stuff and put it out in the world. Or not and just make stuff. You have a better camera in your pocket than all of these giant filmmakers or actors had when they were kids and look at where they are. It’s so easy to just experiment. The barrier to entry is so low. If you’re not making stuff and you want to be an actor or filmmaker, you’re just making excuses. You have to practice this stuff. You have to get good at it. The closest way to getting good at it is to keep doing it. I don’t think I’m good at this. I think I’m working towards it. I want to keep working at it to get good at it. I’m 23. I’m still learning. I’m so excited about the amount of stuff I do not know. That excites me in the morning: ‘What am I going to learn today?’ Set yourself up to learn, set yourself up to fail, set yourself up to make stuff that you are or are not proud of. I think eventually you will get paid for it, or not and you’ll still be doing the thing that you love.”

6) Emma Myles, “Leanne Taylor”

MYLES Emma 2“Be persistent. Do your work; do as much work as you can. Do your homework. Be prepared. You can be trained—that’s my suggestion. A lot of people think that you can just go to LA and start getting work. Some can do that and there are definitely parts out there that will call for someone to do that. But if you really want to push yourself and try to be in the same game as the people you really respect, you’ve got to do your work. You’ve got to train. You’ve got to be a pleasant person to work with. That stuff gets back to people. If you are not pleasant to be around, people start to talk. That’s how people start losing jobs. I think the most important thing is to not give up. There are going to be a lot of times when you feel like you’re not doing what you set out to do. It can be incredibly frustrating for someone with a creative brain to have to go to the [day] job they hate most of the time. People who aren’t actors and people who aren’t artists can deal with that a lot better. But I think that people with a creative mind, that’s the stuff that inherently starts to kill them. I think that the best thing is to not get discouraged, know that there are 100 other people going out for the roles you’re going in for. The chances are that you’re probably not going to get it. You might as well have fun. If you’re not having fun, then what are you doing? You should be having fun and it should be making you happy. If it doesn’t make you happy, you have to take a look at why it’s doing that.”

7) Dascha Polanco, “Dayanara ‘Daya’ Diaz”

Capture One Catalog0089“I was walking through the TSA the other day and someone said, ‘Can you please make me famous? Get me out of here.’ I was like, ‘It’s not about being famous.’ You have to really love what you do. If acting’s what you love to do, get the training that you need. Your body’s an instrument. Your mind’s an instrument. Developing characters requires training. It’s important to stay true to yourself. If you’re going to be an actress to achieve fame, then you shouldn’t. It should be something you love. It should be something you’ll wake up at 2am to do, go 18 hours without sleep, and still feel like you’re on vacation. It’s hard. It’s competitive. It takes a lot of persistence, perseverance, and dedication. You have to keep on going and be true to yourself. ”

8) Lori Petty, “Lolly Whitehill”

3“Move to Paris, marry a very wealthy man or woman, study painting, and read books [Lori laughs]. I mean it’s a grind. When I first started doing this and I was successful it went Point Break, A League of Their Own, Free Willy, Tank Girl back to back to back to back. I thought, ‘Great! I’m good at this, people like me, I’m talented and intelligent. Cool, I did the right thing. It’s great.’ Well, no [Lori laughs]. You think, ‘This is my life.’ No, it’s not! You hit thirty or forty and see the hustle never ends to get a job. I’d say if you really want to be an actor, go to New York and do theater and Off-Broadway. Make sure that you just want to create art, entertain people, and love people as opposed to trying to stay in an ever-changing Hollywood, in my opinion. If you’re starting out that’s what I would do. Get into theater. Make as many plays as you can, be in as many plays as you can, write as many plays as you can. If you get three episodes on Game of Thrones it’s a great year. Well, you need to do more than that in a year. There’s a lot more hours in the day. That’s what I would say to do. Or like I said, move to Paris, marry well, read a lot of books, and have fun [Lori laughs].”

Seasons 1-4 of Orange is the New Black are streaming on Netflix.