Just in time for the Orange Is the New Black Season 3 premiere, we talked with actress Lorraine Toussaint about her role on the hit show and what it’s like to be a woman in the current “renaissance” age of television.
On Orange Is the New Black
On the Season 2 finale of OITNB, we said Toussaint’s character, Vee, finally get what she had coming when — spoiler alert! — Rosa ran her over in her getaway van.
“As far as I know,” Toussaint told us, “she’s dead.
“She kind of painted herself into a corner,” she added. “There’s no doubt about it.
But we wanted to know if Vee was dead, dead, “I love that,” Toussaint said with a laugh, but she also said that’s a question only show creator, Jenji Kohan, can answer before we get to see Season 3 when it hits Netflix on June 12.
“There’ll be all sorts of surprises,” Toussaint did promise about Season 3.
But she said that the OITNB Season 3 secrets go all the way to the highest level of command.
“When we did Selma, some of the Selma cast was invited to the White House to have a private screening — somebody pinch me — with the President and Mrs. Obama. And they’re Orange fans. I couldn’t tell my executive chief, the most powerful man in the world, what was happening next year on Orange.
“You know, I’m sure they could call Jenji,” Toussaint joked, “But it was like, ‘You know, Mr. President, you know I’ve seen Scandal. I can’t tell you. I cannot tell you.”
Toussaint said the president and first lady took her silence well, “They’re both lovely,” she said. “They’re very funny. Both of them.”
Of course, we did manage to get a few teasers out of Toussaint, who promised, “There’s going to be more fights. There’s going to be more sex. There’s going to be more drama.”
Toussaint can also be seen as no-nonsense police lieutenant, Joanna Reece, on ABC’s Forever, which just had its Season 1 finale last night. Unfortunately, there’s no word yet if the show will be renewed for Season 2, but we’re definitely keeping our fingers crossed, along with Toussaint.
“I think Forever is such an amazing show. You know, we have flown a little bit under the radar, and I feel like we’ve been a little bit of a sleeper, kind of like a Greek wedding, it is catching on like wildfire! I am getting more feedback from people going, ‘What a great show. That’s my show!’ People are now going, ‘That’s my show.’
“Everybody, if you like it, let the network know that you like it,” Toussaint encouraged fans.
As for what’s in store in Season 2, “The love story is about to kick off,” Toussaint teased. “And I think in Season 2 we’re going to delve much more into my character’s personal life.”
On Hollywood and not giving up
“My mom would say, ‘Dance with the lady that brings ya to the party,'” Toussaint said about getting cast in a lot of boss-type roles as of late.
“That’s what’s getting interesting, that I can be the police boss [in Forever], then I can be the drug boss [in OITNB] and then I can be the madame. There’s a lot of bosses in the world that are on both sides of the tracks, so it’s getting interesting.”
And while Toussaint may have huge success playing these amazing roles now, she said there was definitely a time when she felt like she should give up.
“You know, our business has gone through so many ups and downs, sort of, right after the whole big strike in the ’90s — oh, it was awful. None of us worked for a year and a half almost. And then, after that, it was a two-year go-slow. And then when that, sort of, started leveling out, it was the first time that I faced ageism. Where, literally, I would go into auditions and they would go, ‘Oh, we love her, but we want a younger actress on.’ And, at the time, I felt young. I look young. I’m still young! But the business is going, ‘Yeah, um, no, not to us you’re not, you’re old to us.’ And I went through another two years where it was really difficult to get work.”
She said, at the time, 40-year old women were being played by women in their 20s. And that was the time when she asked the universe if it was her time to quit.
“I knew I wasn’t done creatively. I knew that. But I wasn’t sure if the business was done with me.”
Luckily, the universe jumped on board and “got on with it,” because Toussaint started working again and the rest is history.
“I think we’re entering a kind of renaissance for television and especially for women, because for too long we bought into that ridiculous myth that we aren’t marketable and we aren’t marketable overseas and no one really wants to see a woman over 40, much less 50. All of that is nonsense. Thank you, Jenji Kohan; she has really blown that out of the water. And so you’re watching networks actually develop shows around smart women over 40. And, I gotta tell you, as a woman, that’s when we get really good. That’s when we get interesting. That’s when we get juicy. So, thank God, as a society we’re obviously becoming less afraid of the extraordinary power of women when we’ve hit our stride which, usually, doesn’t come until we’re 40. So I’m glad I stuck around.”
Orange is the New Black: Season 2 will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD on May 19.