23 Mar Exclusive Interview: OITNB’s Dascha Polanco (Daya Diaz)
Following the success of ‘House of Cards’, which created a trend in the industry that some refer to as bing-watching, Netflix released the critically acclaimed hit ‘Orange is the New Black’ on July 11, 2013. ‘Orange is the New Black’ became a breakout hit for the summer of 2013, and proved to be a showcase for a group of incredible actors. The overall ensemble on the show is part of what made the show such a hit. Daya Diaz, portrayed by Dascha Polanco, was one of the first faces we got to see as Piper Chapman, played by Taylor Schilling, entered the Litchfield Facility. We were given a bit of a back story on Daya and learned that whatever troubles she may have gotten into, she wasn’t the only Diaz family member to do so. While in Litchfield we learned a bit about her relationship with her mother and saw the development of a relationship with one of guards. We recently had the opportunity to interview the actress behind the character, Dascha Polanco and talked about subjects ranging from her audition process to her plans for the season 2 release of the show.
OITNB.com: What was the audition process for the role of Daya, and what drew you to the role?
Dascha Polanco: My manager Dave called me with it. I did not know much about the role except that she was in jail with her mom but was really excited that it was for a TV series by Jenji Kohan. The audition process was pretty much like any other audition, I met with the casting director Jen Euston and read the sides. Next weekend they called me in for a callback.
Did you have any background in drama training before you got the role?
I have always taken drama / theatre classes in school, and then took tv/ film classes at BIH Studios in New York.
How did you break into the industry?
I broke into the industry once I took classes at BIH. They have showcases at the end where industry professionals come and watch you perform in hopes of picking up new talent. That’s where Shirley Grant Management found me.
Do you have any advice for people trying to break in to the industry?
Its hard work takes a lot of dedication, perseverance and the ability to get rejected lots more than validated. Above all, it’s about confidence.
Where you at all concerned by doing a Netflix show given the idea that the whole series was being released at once?
I was not concerned at all, I was more so excited to be part of this new concept.
What do you have most in common with Daya?
Most in common is to be passionate, fight for love and a romantic.
What do you enjoy the most about being in the entertainment industry?
I enjoy the art, the creativity, meeting all sorts of people and ability to do what I love.
What has been the most touching reaction or gift that you’ve received from a fan?
I pretty much enjoy the letters that are handwritten. Something about a letter in pen or pencil expressing most sincere emotions that gets to me.
You are active on the usual social media accounts and must of seen your followers/fans rise rapidly on a daily basis. Are there any charities or causes that you would like tell your fans about and how they could help out?
I always promote charities or causes that I can relate to, DOE, domestic violence, WPA, any cancer, and kids/teen charities.
Living NYC I know you must see the endless amount of billboards & posters everywhere throughout the city, what was your first reaction to seeing your face posted everywhere?
I have to be honest I got chills and teary eyed. It a bit overwhelming.
Daya, is a character who often gets criticized for not speaking Spanish, given your Dominican roots and living in America, how important do you think it is for Latina’s to be able to speak Spanish?
Personally, I was raised to make sure that I knew both languages fluently. I think it is essential that Latinos become familiar with the Spanish language .
You have the show’s two hottest men in Pablo and Matt (Pornstache and John) chasing your character, does that make going in to work easy for you?
Never been more excited to go to prison. Yum.Have you any hopes for Daya’s end game or are you happy to just go wherever the scripts takes you?
I’m happy to go where ever the scripts take me.
What are your plans for the big day, June 6th? Are you planning on doing a viewing party with family & friends or binge-watching by yourself?
I might be planning a viewing party not sure yet but would love to do something different than last year.
When season 2 of Orange is the New Black hits Netflix on June 6, 2014 we hope to discover more details about Dascha’s character, Daya Diaz. For example what challenges will she face while being pregnant in Litchfield, and whether or not John & Pornstache will fight for her love and attention. We also look forward to the possibility of getting more specifics behind what landed her Litchfield. Thanks so much to Dascha Polanco for taking the time out be a part of this interview.