AN ORANGE DREAM: A SIT DOWN WITH ALYSIA REINER

Alysia Reiner is a ‘glass half full’ kinda girl. And when sitting down with her, that unbridled optimism is infectious, bouncing off a blinding and warm smile and into your heart. Winning a SAG Award for Sideways is just the beginning for this enormous talent. With a body of work including 30 Rock and The Sopranos, to features For Love of the Game and Sundance darling The Vicious Kind, Reiner is a seemingly unstoppable force ready for another challenge portraying Fig in the hit Netflix series, Orange Is The New Black.

'ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK' STAR ALYSIA REINER

THE REINER FILES

DESIGNER MUST LIST: Fashion is art for the body, and I love so many artists. I love Carmen Marc-Valvo for
red carpet events, Hugo Boss for David and me! I love so many up and coming designers like Red Doll, Taylor, and love, love, love me some vintage. I love wearing things of my grandma’s, be it a 50’s house dress on a summer beach day, or some of her couture on the red carpet. Old or new DVF, Chloe, and Alexander McQueen.
I love fashion and if I had to pick one master: Valentino.

LAST FASHION SPLURGE: My husband bought me the most gorgeous Hogan bag. I don’t want to know how much it was – I would probably need a sedative!

#1 BEAUTY SECRET: RMS un-cover up – organic perfection to make all sins disappear.  http://rmsbeauty.com/

LATEST OBSESSION: Virgil’s cherry cream and root beer sodas. All natural, sweetened with stevia, no chemicals, in old fashioned glass bottles, insanely delicious. Perfect summer treat.

THE GREAT GETAWAY: Parrot Cay. Someone please send me back!

DIRECTOR CRUSH: My first love – Alexander Payne

My first girl crush – Sarah Polley – Away from Her

My dream date – Wes Anderson  –  Anything and everything he does.

Since before I wanted to be an actress – Rob Reiner – The Princess Bride. GENIUS.

DREAM DINNER GUEST: Einstein

SATURDAY NIGHT, I’D FIND YOU… this summer? Throwing a candle-lit beach dinner party in Fire
Island.

WORDS TO LIVE BY: “Is it better to be kind or to be right?”

ORANGE PERFECTION: ALYSIA REINER

HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: Where does your story begin?

ALYSIA REINER: I was a mistake. My parents wanted a puppy. I wish I were kidding. But really, I grew up on the upper west side of Manhattan, NYC. Never did get that dog, but did get a lot of therapy.

HM: Where did your passion for performing first take root?

AR: My aunt said when I was 4 years old, I was on a crosstown bus and I said, “when I grow up, I want to be a painter/dancer/writer/actress…you know, dabble.”

HM: Orange is the New Black is Netflix new series. It’s the story of a woman who ends up in a tough women’s prison in Litchfield, Connecticut having been implicated by an ex-girlfriend who worked for an international drug cartel. You play Fig, the assistant to the warden at Litchfield. Tell us about her and how you breathed life into her?

AR: Its funny, Fig is as different a character as I have ever played, and I am not even playing a prisoner. I am a bit of a bleeding heart, and if I were to actually work in a prison I would want to get everyone an education, meditation classes, and a new set of teeth. Fig…not so much. For research, I read the memoir by Piper Kerman that the show is based on, watched a lot of LOCKED UP, and visited a prison. I also interviewed a bunch of correction’s officers, teachers who worked in prisons, and a few administrators, but it was really hard to get to
anyone in a warden’s office. Hmmm…wonder what that’s about?

HM: Orange is created by Jenji Kohan who took characters from Piper Kerman’s memoir and
fleshed them out, creating a rich and deep tapestry of complex women. What has working with Jenji been like for you?

AR: I have spoken about Jenji before and I always feel people will think I am sucking up, but I already have the job and I am not gonna lie: truly, she is amazing. She obviously has a brilliant sense of story and what makes compelling television, but she is also incredibly genuine and humble. Fig is so different from me, but Jenji and the writing team have given me so many insights in the writing. She also creates such a warm, safe environment on set, you feel like you can try anything.

REINER PLAYS FIG ON 'ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK'

HM: Jenji Kohan was the brains behind Weeds. And Orange is another female-led show from her with an all-female cast. It’s all ‘girl power’ with her. What does this say about where the industry is headed in terms of roles for women?

AR: I think we are headed to a wonderful place!  Did you read Lauren Morelli’s (one of our ORANGE writers) article in DEATH AND TAXES? http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/202513/my-first-writing-job-orange-is-the-new-black/.  It is my hope that this is just the beginning of a female character revolution. We need ‘Pennsatucky’ to say a praise Jesus for that one.

HM: You film the show in a prison. What has that been like?

AR: We actually shoot in an abandoned children’s psych prison, and I would be lying if I didn’t say it’s been spooky.  But there are some funny moments. This guy isn’t a ghost I don’t think: https://twitter.com/lomorelli/status/365957446793043969/photo/1

HM: Is the goal with Orange is the New Black to cast a light on the conditions of women in prison? What do you want people to walk away with?

AR: I don’t know what Jenji or Piper’s goals are, so I don’t want to speak for them. All I know is that we are telling stories that are resonating very deeply with people. For me, there is a theme of the choices we make and how they make us.

HM: What would we be surprised to know about you?

AR: I have jumped out of a plane and when I did, the instructor said I was the calmest person he has ever seen do it. I don’t know if that surprises you but at 12,000 feet that surprised me!

HM: When you close your eyes and look out on the horizon, what do you see or hope for yourself?

AR: At this moment, I am in Fire Island, looking out on the gorgeous horizon of water and grass, so for today, I see me making water color paintings with my daughter…and a nap!

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK IS AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOSH MERWIN

A r o u n d   t h e   W e b