That’s such an unfortunate place to be in. She was always the one on the forefront putting her voice out there and saying, “You will hear what I’m feeling and the loss that you have caused me and my daughter and his mother.”
As challenging as it was to shoot this, the work was done. Taystee went left, right, up, down. What did you read or what did you do?” I just watched the clips of Diamond Reynolds, who was his girlfriend, speaking to reporters and talking to all of these news outlets. I look forward to many more exciting scenes like the ones that we end with in episode 13. It was a lot of fun. All you have to do is put your uncle, your brother — I have a brother who’s 22 — your father in [their] place. I think she would’ve said, “He’s not worth it. Who knows? How do you feel about it? [It was] almost like Christmas where you want to sneak a gift the night before. Orange is the New Black‘s fifth season was a big one for Danielle Brooks, and the actress is already thinking about when it’ll be time for her final bow. I’m very proud of the work that myself, the cast, crew, and writers have done this season, especially because it parallels the world that we live in. It’s this thing of thinking you won’t have these magic moments again with these two characters. They are able to stand together and choose to fight the next chapter. This season we got to see her stand up and have her moments where she feels like she’s going to lose it and crumble. One of the big surprises of the season was the moving flashback that revealed how Taystee and Poussey first met. When can we win? I just want to live in the moment and digest it when it comes. Negotiations with MCC fell apart because Taystee wouldn’t budge on the Bailey issue. The 27-year-old actress moved to the center of the action as her character Taystee pursued justice not only for her friend Poussey (Samira Wiley), who was killed by a guard at the end of season 4, but for her fellow inmates in negotiations with MCC (Management & Correction Corporation). It really is devastating and it feels like we still have this noose around our necks as black people. I feel like a big part of Taystee’s motives this year is to fight for justice but also believe that the system can change. I want to get to play all different moods, shapes, and colors. It actually breaks my heart that I wasn’t able to really just use my imagination as we do as artists. Is that how you envisioned their first meeting? I don’t think Poussey would’ve wanted her to shoot him at the end. Even though we see the girls not get what they wanted, I still am happy the writers did leave us on a hopeful journey together. It was challenging. I never thought to think about how they met because I’ve known Samira for so long now, and because I’ve known her for so long and the way in which they’ve written these two characters, it feels like they’ve known each other for just as long. She found her salvation in not killing Piscatella [Brad William Henke]. I am not like you. (Shortly before we spoke, news broke that the Minnesota officer who shot Philando Castile last July was acquitted, which Brooks compared to the fact that everyone in power on the show is reluctant to charge Corrections Officer Bailey with murder in the wake of Poussey’s riot-sparking death.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The season’s been out for a week now. JoJo Whilden/Netflix
Even though the season ends with the women facing down death, do you take comfort in the fact that they’re doing it together? Show Full Article The tumultuous season ended with Taystee and nine other women facing down death together as they hid in Frieda’s (Dale Soules) bunker and waited for the police to assault their temporary sanctuary. Now, I’d rather wait and I’m opening the gift wrap slowly, because I’m trying to take it all in and I know that we’re getting closer to the end — or at least, I think. I want to play all different kinds of layers of a person, which I do think I got to do. By not killing him, she figured out what justice really means and it has to do much more with character than a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye. I can rise above the wickedness, the ugliness.”
I think Taystee won in that way. It’s sort of hard to escape this reality because it just feels like a cloud that’s always hanging over us and then to have something like this, it just makes it even harder. I’d rather be putting that energy out into the world. Sometimes I think of acting in different fabrics. That’s a big part of it. For me, my work was sort of done. Six episodes in, I get to act with my girl again. Have you had time to watch it? Is there a general sense in the cast that season 7 might be the end, or do you hope Netflix could renew for another season? Definitely. Moore], and settings were on fire. I think you find all of that in that one scene. I don’t know. How can I get involved in politics or local government or [how we] choose judges?” We just have to get more involved and be more informed on a much more [local] scale that affects our communities…and will ultimately affect the greater scale. What was your first reaction when you read that scene? She’s pulling out all of the stops and doing all the research and speaking up for these women in hopes that this thing can change. What was it like to approach this prison set you’ve been on for five seasons in a different way? Was committing to that hopefulness hard some days, or did you find it easy because it gave you a reason to keep hope alive for yourself, too? There were a few times when I felt like I was in an action movie or something because there were like bombs going off, I got to lift Uzo [Aduba]’s body with Adrienne [C. Actually, today I got a little pissed off, honestly—I just heard the news on the radio about the Philando Castile [case] and the officer being acquitted. You know, Taystee goes on that journey this season of really fighting for justice and trying to have Bailey [Alan Aisenberg] locked up, because in her eyes he is a criminal and for that to not happen says a lot. I don’t know if I want to do that because I have a lot in me and a lot that I want to share with the world and different characters I want to be able to bring to life. I want to find beauty at the end of the road. It’s not over. I think she learned that she’s capable of much more than she ever imagined. Who knows? That’s sort of where my head is right now, and it kind of sucks because you’re telling this fictional story for six or seven months, embodying what it is to lose somebody and what is it to fight. I know that’s the route that she’s chosen, which is hope and faith. But I do think the hope part matters — especially right now. All we can do is be hopeful and active as we’ve seen Taystee do. While you were filming the season, was it hard to go from reading these tragic headlines every day to performing these scenes where Taystee is fighting for justice— and at times in vain because of how rigid the system is? I’d rather just wait and see, especially now that we’re getting closer to the end of the road than we were in the beginning. People always ask, “How did you get into character? To me, it was so similar to that episode 5 scene with Taystee when she doesn’t let Judy King [Blair Brown] speak, because that’s the same thing I saw with her; she never let her lawyers speak for her. I want to have hope for America. Instead, it felt so real. I can’t say that I wouldn’t want to do the other route because, as an actor, I wanna play everything. Although some progress was made, it all fell apart at the last minute when a SWAT team finally barged into Litchfield to end the three-day-long riot in the season 5 finale. We came back in July 2016 when the Philando Castile incident occurred, so we were going right into work dealing with that particular incident. We’re all in it together. That was so much fun, and just getting to feel like a true badass and getting to do things that I hadn’t gotten to do yet as an actor in a physical way was a lot of fun for me. Frieda says it just right when she’s like, “We’re gonna stand together and hold our dignity just like Taystee has.” So there is comfort in that. It seems that the line between fiction and reality is blurred…
It’s so blurred at the moment. But also with the reality of we don’t know what’s going to happen. So, my heart is a little heavy right now, to be honest. Last Friday, EW spoke with Brooks on the phone about whether she sees herself staying on the show beyond season 7, Samira Wiley’s cameo in episode 6, and the season’s real-world parallels. Netflix
Litchfield was in chaos this season. Yet, here I am. We could go beyond seven seasons. I just find it brave of the writers to go in that direction instead of just choosing to have this patched up, happy-go-lucky, tied-in-a-nice bow ending, because that’s the thing: We’re still dealing with issues like that. I know you don’t have any idea what’s coming up in season 6, but what do you hope Taystee gets to do next season? My first reaction was, “Smart writing. There’s this inherent optimism in Taystee’s actions this season. He’ll get his.” Which we see him do. DANIELLE BROOKS: Yes, I have gotten to see season 5. Yeah, it’s wicked how the system works. At first, I was dying for each script and wanting to know what happens next. The fight for realizing that all lives do matter — specifically, black lives mattering — is not over. I just hope that’s what we gain with telling stories that matter in that way — we can also take from these women and say, “How can I stand with my brother and my sister? When can we just be as equal as anyone else? Don’t get me wrong! I just felt like that showed the core of what their friendship is: These two people really trying to be there for one another and not wanting anything in return but love, a friendship, laughter, and joy. It was so exciting and fun for me. To be honest, I don’t know if I want to play an inmate past that. I don’t know what’s going to happen in season 6, nor do I know the climate of the world in the rest of 2017. When it comes to the society that we live in right now, I’d rather as an actor be playing that part of it. I just appreciate the show speaking to the issues that we’re dealing with. After seven, I think it might be time for me to spread my wings, but I don’t want to speak too fast on that. To get to come to work and act out that first scene was a lot of fun for both of us — so much fun that there were moments where I was forgetting my lines because I couldn’t wrap my head around [it]. How can I be there for a family that’s lost their loved one? We see at the end of it that they stand together and now she has a group of women that are standing for justice and she doesn’t feel as alone as she did earlier in the episode. When will justice be served for us and when can we get a moment to breathe and live in a fair world?…I’m just hurting. She found her voice. Then, this season comes out and here we are with another situation where justice is not served. How cool is it that they met in the library? Given that, do you think she comes out with any kind of a win at the end of the season? Definitely the latter, because I think when someone has gone through as much as Taystee has gone through, and especially when someone is dealing with grief, you kind of have two different routes that you can take: You can choose to take the death route where you are living in misery and depression and feeling like you have no reason to live, or you can say I’m going to take life even more seriously and cherish the life that I’ve been given. Kudos to Lauren Morelli.” How cool is it for them to have created Amanda and McKenzie [in their] first encounter? SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers from Orange Is the New Black‘s entire fifth season. We have until seven for sure. It’s choosing to sometimes — not all the time — say, “I am bigger than how you see me. She definitely came out with a win. I had a good time with that. Not even win, but just be! Right now, my heart really goes out to the Castile family for having to feel like they’re not getting justice for this senseless death. Oh, that question… The reason I say that is because my imagination is expansive, but once I see what the writers have written, I’m always taken aback and so much more excited about what they’ve planned and what I’ve come up with in my head.