‘Orange Is the New Black’: Laura Gomez Reveals 15 Show Secrets

Season 5 of Orange Is the New Black is about to return and many fans are excited to see where it will pick up after the dramatic cliffhanger from last season. This will certainly be a pivotal season unlike any other, given it will take place over three days, there is a riot at Litchfield Penitentiary, and inmates are reacting to the biggest death on the show yet.

Many of the stars from the cast have opened up about their reactions to Season 4 and what we should expect this upcoming season. That includes Laura Gómez who plays Blanca Flores in the show. Gómez talked to The Cheat Sheet at the Tribeca Film Festival about the upcoming season and her character, a role that has changed vastly since the beginning of the show.

So what did Gómez have to say about the upcoming season and her character? Here are 15 secrets she revealed about the show.

1. She had fun playing Blanca in Season 1 even when she had less to do

Blanca has messy hair and is sitting on a bottom bunk while looking up at someone.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: The first season Blanca Flores was quiet and was kind of passed off as this crazy, kooky character. How did it feel initially to be playing a character that seemed one-dimensional at first when compared to all the other characters?

Laura Gómez told The Cheat Sheet: First of all, it was a great opportunity for me to be a part of this amazing, groundbreaking show. So I really wasn’t thinking over that (sic) except the opportunity to be able to transform myself as an actress. And it was a little bit of a caricature maybe but it was so, you know there was so many places for me to go as an actress that I just enjoyed it.

2. Blanca symbolizes resistance

The inmates are standing on the lunch tables looking at the officers.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: Last season Blanca had a really interesting struggle while fighting back against the correctional officers. What did it feel like playing a character who was so determined to fight back against injustice?

Gómez: So I took it as a symbol. And coming from that character it was very unexpected but I feel that’s precisely what’s happening. Change comes from very unexpected places and I loved it. I loved the opportunity that that gave me as an actress to explore.

3. The lunch protest scene took 22 hours to shoot

Blanca Flores is standing on a lunch table and is looking down at an officer.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: What was it like shooting the scene where Blanca has to stand on a table and pee herself, yet stay defiant?

Gómez: It was intense in the sense that it was a very long day. Especially the scene of Poussey in the cafeteria that was like a 22-hour day. Yeah, that specific episode was directed by Matthew Weiner the creator of Mad Men and that was such a blast. Honestly, I didn’t know how it would translate on camera. I knew it was a very important moment. I had no idea it was that (sic), especially standing up on the table, I was shocked to see how it was translated from the page to the screen.

4. Actors often have no clue how a scene’s tone will turn out

Yael Stone as Lorna Morello looking sad while wearing a wedding veil on Orange Is the New Black

Yael Stone as Lorna Morello on Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: Why is it that the show translates so differently from page to screen? Is it editing?

Gómez: No, there’s something about the way our writers write or maybe the material that we’re portraying such deep situations (sic) but with this layer of sometimes being funny. And you’re just shooting your scene, I mean, I read the entire script but I don’t know how the other actors are portraying what they’re portraying. So when you see it all together there’s an element of surprise and amazement to it because of how sometimes it can be so funny, but also so political.

5. Poussey was picked to die for a reason

Poussey is being crushed on the ground under an officer.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: What was your reaction to the horrible way Poussey died?

Gómez: It was tough. I thought it was brilliant actually. I thought it was like that (sic) would make an impact. Almost as close as to what’s happening. The closest mirror to society we could have was through Poussey and I knew it was going to be disappointing to a lot of people and heartbreaking. But that’s precisely why I know that our writers were very meticulous in choosing the right character because it had to make an impact. And Poussey is beloved.

6. Poussey’s death will impact all the inmates

Taystee is crying on the floor next to Poussey.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: How do you think Poussey’s death and the riot are going to affect Blanca?

Gómez: I don’t think specifically Blanca. I think everybody is going to be affected somehow after something like that. We see a little bit of that in Season 4, whether they’re friends with this character or not, whether there is Susan or Taystee or whether it’s the Spanish Harlem crew, I think everybody is impacted by the proximity and the possibility of it being themselves and the fact they are under the system.

7. The hair and makeup team told Gómez her character was going to get a backstory

Blanca Flores has her arms crossed and looking down at an old woman.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: What was your reaction to Blanca finally getting the nurse backstory and having to stand up to someone?

Gómez: I was beside myself. I couldn’t believe it because, you know, every time one of us gets a backstory we text each other. Or we congratulate each other, “Oh my god you have a backstory! Congrats!” Everybody was very excited. The hair and makeup people kept telling me, “I know you’re going to have a backstory.”

8. Even Gómez was shocked by the backstory

Blanca smiles as Diablo is putting an old woman in her wheelchair.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: What was your reaction to Blanca finally getting the nurse backstory and having to stand up to someone?

Answer continued …

Gómez: When I read it I was so blown away by the layers and the colors of this character. And again, the symbolic behavior that comes from her. The kind of standing up to oppression, which is what I think that old lady represented.

9. She was nervous to film the sex scene

Blanca and Diablo are having sex and Blanca is smiling.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: Were you nervous to film your character’s sex scene?

Gómez: I was a little bit. We met that day [Miguel Izaguirre] and he was a gentleman. He was very shy. He was very excited to be there too. I was so well prepared and protected by our producers, I feel.

10. Gómez believes there’s truth in the conflict between the Puerto Ricans and the Dominicans on the show

A father is holding up his little girl in front of a mural.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: Last season we got more into the backstory and relationships between the Dominican and Puerto Rican characters and their communities. We see how they’ve interacted in the past and how that affects the characters. As a Hispanic woman how did you feel about that?

Gómez: You know, I found it very funny because I know there is an element of truth to that. That I find a little bit absurd. But that’s precisely what they do with us; divide and conquer. The closer I feel that ethnicities are, the more the conflict because we’re so similar.

11. The portrayal also helps tear down stereotypes

Aleida and Maria are in aprons and hair nets.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: Last season we got more into the backstory and relationships between the Dominican and Puerto Rican characters and their communities. We see how they’ve interacted in the past and how that affects the characters. As a Hispanic woman how did you feel about that?

Answer continued …

Gómez: I think our writers did a great job portraying that in a funny way. Because sometimes it’s “ha ha” funny and sometimes it’s a little deeper than that and we’ll always go far enough to present those stereotypes and then kind of explore them. 

12. We’re getting some odd pairings in Season 5

Big Boo and Pennsatucky are behind a gated area.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: In Season 5 do you have more group scenes or more scenes with fewer actors, given the riot?

Gómez: I think it’ll go to some surprising places and Blanca is no exception. All the characters I think are going to be very surprising this season. Some unlikely pairs occur as usual. They always surprise us like “Who are friends now? How is this possible?”

13. The show will continue to have comic relief

Blanca is being frisked and is looking back at the correctional officer.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: The show started as a dark comedy, but now it’s touching on serious topics like police brutality. Will next season be more serious or will it still have some lighter moments?

Gómez: Oh we still have outlets. We still have maintained that dramedy element because I think that’s why people are having less hard time (sic) with our show, seeing so much reality. There’s a little layer of relief. That’s still there.

14. Season 5 won’t be predictable

Daya holds up a gun next to other inmates on Orange is the New Black.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: Can you give me a few words you would use to describe the next season?

Gómez: Out of the box.

15. Gómez wishes she has in more scenes with Elizabeth Rodriguez and Taryn Manning

Pennsatucky is laughing has she is weidling a sharp crucifix.

Orange Is the New Black | Netflix

Q: Is there anyone on the show you wish you worked with more?

Gómez: I kind of accept the way things are because I feel it couldn’t be any more brilliant [than] the way things are flowing. I know that eventually, I’m going to be surprised by the script and get to work with whoever I haven’t. But I have a lot of fun every time I get to work with Elizabeth Rodriguez. It’s a lot of fun. She’s a great actress, and Taryn Manning is one of my favorite characters on the show (sic).

[Editor’s note: This story was originally published June 5, 2017.]

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice

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