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Natalie Figueroa (commonly known as Fig) is a main character and the former executive assistant to the warden at Litchfield Penitentiary and now the current warden of Litchfield’s ICE detainment facility. She is the Tertiary antagonist of Season One and the Secondary antagonist of Season Two. She becomes an anti-hero in later seasons.
- Personality Edit
- Relationships Edit
- Memorable QuotesEdit
- Trivia Edit
- Galleries Edit
- Orange Is The New Black Showed Us Balls! What Does It Mean?
- Physical AppearanceEdit
- Early Life Edit
- Personal lifeEdit
- Social mediaEdit
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- Meet the warden who rules the roost on ‘OITNB’
Figueroa comes off as incredibly confident, professional, and arrogant. She is often very mean, cold, and manipulative towards the inmates and staff, and cares more about the reputation of the prison than the welfare of the prisoners. She dresses in expensive clothing and designer shoes and drives a Mercedes convertible. It is implied that she started her job with optimism for change, but was broken by the system.
It is shown in Season 2 that a lot of her manipulativeness and toughness comes from helping her husband, Jason, embezzle money for his state senate campaign. She has doubts about what they are doing and fears what will happen if they get caught, but Jason quickly reassures her that they won’t and that what they are doing is for the greater good of the state. After a campaign event where she catches her husband making out with his campaign manager, a man, she appears physically and emotionally weaker.
At the end of Season 2, Piper finds piles of candy wrappers she had binged on in her desk drawers, hinting that she has bulimia, which she confirms herself in Season 6 while talking to Joe Caputo. She is also revealed to have anorexia in Season 6. She developed this anorexia after Courtney Cox was pulled onstage at a concert instead of her, as she thought she was too fat to be pulled. She stated that this moment caused her to be a more determined person.
After the discovery of her husband’s affair, she begins having “hate sex” with Caputo in Season 3. She proclaims that she only sees Caputo because he is a “good lay”, but as their relationship further develops, she seems to care for him. He attempts to break her hard exterior in Season 6 by asking to see the “real Natalie” and singing karaoke to her.
By Season Seven, Figueroa has transitioned into a very different character. Her exterior toughness and negative reputation seem to make her sad. She still utilizes her tough personality at times, but more frequently she is shown behaving softly and caring for others around her. Her relationship with Joe Caputo seems to have helped her become more in touch with her kind side. She is also very supportive towards Tamika Ward, when she takes over her job as Warden. She even says kind things to other people, especially Joe. But, her snarky behavior never fully goes away and she tends to disguise her compliments as insults.
As a young girl, Fig was best friends with a girl called Tracy Loomis who began puberty before her, and as a result of this, Tracy became popular because Tracy supposedly had sexual interactions with a boy named Jason. This then resulted in Fig naming her vagina after Tracy as she found Tracy and her vagina to be a “bitch”.
In Changing Winds, she tells Joe Caputo that she used to be fat, which she firmly believes resulted in her not being pulled up on stage by Bruce Springsteen during the shooting of the “Dancing in the Dark” video.
Season One Edit
In season one, Natalie is mostly shown butting heads with Joe Caputo, whom she considers to be incompetent at his job, over management of the prison. She comes across mostly as cold and condescending, but shows more humanity than some of the other prison employees when Tricia Miller dies. She also sternly lectures Sam Healy about calling Piper Chapman’s fiance and telling him that she’s having a lesbian affair.
Season Two Edit
In Season Two, it is revealed that at the expense of the prison, she embezzled money from the Department of Corrections by cutting funding for programs and other “luxuries”. At the expense of the inmates, she covered up events that were potentially damaging to the reputation or funding of the prison. Piper Chapman, sick and tired of the clearly corrupted prison, tried along with a reporter to uncover the scam. In revenge, Fig attempted to have Piper transferred to another facility, motivating Piper to steal files from Fig’s office containing incriminating evidence related to her embezzlement scam.
In “We Have Manners. We’re Polite.” Fig is busted by Joe Caputo who has the evidence obtained by Piper, in an attempt to buy Caputo’s silence, she performs oral sex on him, but to no avail, as Caputo has already spoken to the Warden. Fig subsequently resigns as Executive Assistant to the Warden.
Season Three Edit
Natalie is living with Jason Figueroa in Albany after he wins his campaign for senate. Caputo calls Natalie when the prison is going to be shut down. He threatens to expose her and her husband to their voters, and she meets him at the prison with a business plan from MCC. She advises him to schedule a walkthrough as they were previously interested in buying the prison. She is later seen to be having an affair with Caputo, most likely to escape her marital problems with her husband, Jason Figueroa, a closeted gay man.
Season Four Edit
In “The Animals”, Caputo visits Natalie’s large house, where she is alone, drinking wine. Caputo asks if Natalie is drunk, and she invites him in. He declines at first, telling her that he has a girlfriend – a “weird, lying, gun-toting, manipulative, corporate girlfriend”, which Fig already knew, being friends with someone named Margie at MCC. He eventually agrees to go in and “just talk”. In “Toast Can’t Never Be Bread Again”, it is hinted that they had sex when Linda spots that Caputo has bite marks on his ear.
Season Five Edit
Figueroa is sent into the prison on behalf of the governor to negotiate the inmates’ demands with Taystee in an attempt to end the riot and free the hostages. She goes in planning to dismiss most demands, but it becomes apparent that Taystee did her homework. Eventually, Caputo is brought in to help give the inmates credibility, and after pulling all-nighters, a deal is made; all of their demands will be met – besides justice for Poussey. She explains that they don’t have the power to ensure that CO Bailey would be arrested, and Taystee turns their whole deal down. Later, it is assumed that she tells the officers where the old pool is so they can retrieve the ten inmates hiding down there.
Season Six Edit
Figueroa is reinstated as warden at Litchfield Max. She begins to see Caputo again, although her being warden upsets him. Their relationship develops to the point that he tells her she’s his “girlfriend.” She starts an unlikely working relationship with Linda Ferguson, reluctantly helping her when MCC faces a public relations nightmare after the riot, saying PR college students could be free interns, which Linda claims they created as a team. Fig is mocked by Linda as she is looking at clothes online. (“Gordons”) Joe decides to take her on a ‘first and final date’ as he was meant to leave for Missouri. They go to a restaurant and sing karaoke together. She later is sad when she comes to terms with Caputo possibly leaving on their first date. The next morning, she’s at his house and shows her soft side (“Break the String”) After Tina Swope’s attack, she orders Hopper to end mixed yard time, much to his dismay as his Fantasy Inmate points were halted. Later, she is on the phone to Joe when he is telling her he took the report on the riot from Herrmann after he got Cindy’s tip. She advises him not to follow Herrmann (“Chocolate Chip Nookie”) She helps Caputo figure out how to undermine MCC to try to help Taystee. Figueroa arrives at the prison asking to meet with Hopper (who panics, assuming she knows about his drugs), she makes him do the Prisoner paperwork onto the new system as requested by Linda. He is relieved which she assumes is becuase he loves paperwork. She later comes back into his office, revealing that MCC wants more violent inmates and that’s why they’re releasing the top 25. She tells him to stay up all night doing the paperwork and she’ll pay for his dinner (for under $12) (“Double Trouble”) After the trial, she takes care of a beat-up Caputo when he shows up at a MCC/Polycon Corrections event drunk and looking for her. (“Be Free”)
- Jason Figueroa (husband): Jason is Fig’s husband. She discovers that he is gay and in love with an assistant named Gavin. However, they have remained married as he was elected to the New York State Senate.
- Joe Caputo (affair, later boyfriend): She performs oral sex on him in Season Two to try to keep him quiet about her embezzlement. In Season Three, they are shown to be having an affair. Joe gets a girlfriend in Season Four, but in the “The Animals” visits Fig’s house. It is implied that they had sex after Linda spots bite marks on his ear in “Toast Can’t Never Be Bread Again.” They also attempted to have sex after the riot was assumed to be resolved in season 5, but were interrupted by the governor’s assistant. In Season 6, they began having casual sex again, then started going on dates and eventually became an official couple.
- Tasha Jefferson (enemy) – During the riot, Fig enters to settle things. Fig and Taystee have an argument over the demands. After Fig cracks under Taystee’s words, she says all demands will be met except for Bayley’s arrest. Fig is kicked out, saying it will be all or nothing.
- Linda Ferguson
“I’m only here as a formality.” — Natalie Figueroa to the new inmates during orientation “This isn’t a contest. You do your best because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Why is it so hard for you people to understand? You’re like babies! “Where’s my present?” “Pay attention to me!” “Give me things!” “Fix the heat!” “Build a gym!” I’m not your goddamn mommy. Grow up!” — Natalie Figueroa to Tasha Jefferson (“Looks Blue, Tastes Red”). “Get some fucking therapy, man.” — Natalie Figueroa to Sam Healy “A lot of men shave their balls! It doesn’t mean they’re gay!” — Natalie Figueroa to Joe Caputo about not realizing her husband was gay “Your heart bleeds the way a vagina should.” — Natalie Figueroa to Joe Caputo “Of course there are still bad people who commit heinous crimes, and it is unfortunate one of these sickos ended up under our roof.” — Fig delivering a statement to the public after Pornstache is arrested “Hello? Next Friday might be the day your sperm and my eggs finally get their shit together and move into my uterus.” — Natalie Figueroa to Joe Caputo
- Her vagina’s name is Tracey.
- She developed anorexia after Courtney Cox was pulled onstage at a concert instead of her, as she thought she was too fat to be pulled.
- She has the longest span as a recurring character, lasting for six seasons.
Add an image
Speaking to Vanity Fair, Heyward said: “I don’t know what kind of magic crystal ball the writers had, but we actually did have that foundational relationship to play with.”
She added: “When saw my name on the call sheet, she immediately texted me and was like, ‘Girl, are we gonna get to play together? Yes!’”
Heyward also revealed that she and Brooks got to improvise a scene together.
The moment when Tamika goes into Taystee’s cell after she has recently discovered Dogget’s (Taryn Manning) body, was improvised.
Heyward explained: “ crosses boundary, and sits down—in a suit—next to her, and talks to her just as a friend instead of only as a warden. That was so small, and there were so many words. sometimes in order to get into that really delicate place, you go off script a little bit.”
Viewers were devastated when Tamika was fired at the end of season seven after a drugs bust in the prison.
Tamika’s legacy as warden ends in the series finale when Taystee returns to her cell to find an envelope from her with the GED certificates for her four students.
Orange Is the New Black season 7 is streaming on Netflix
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Beth Dover as Linda Ferguson and Alysia Reiner as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa in Orange Is the New Black (Courtesy Netflix)
When the inmates of the Litchfield women’s prison and their warden Natalie “Fig” Figueroa first came into our lives it would have been difficult to predict their tremendous impact.
But Alysia Reiner, who plays Fig, says it has become challenging for the actors, and their millions of fans to say goodbye to Orange Is the New Black. There have been so many shared laughs, as well as tears.
Related: 5 Reasons We Love Orange Is the New Black
The seventh, and final season is now streaming on Netflix, and with many familiar faces returning and resolutions to several of the storylines, this is clearly going to be a fond farewell.
Created by Jenji Kohan, and based on Piper Kerman’s 2010 memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, the show has garnered many awards and much critical acclaim in the U.S. and around the world since its premiere in July 2013.
The stellar ensemble cast of television, film and Broadway actresses includes Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Kate Mulgrew, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Dascha Polanco and others.
Bidding adieu to the host of well-drawn and complex characters is something that Reiner, (Sideways and How to Get Away with Murder), compares to the loss of a loved one.
“Of course everybody is sad. Our fans and all of us who are the Orange family are experiencing grief and each of us experiences it very differently. My last day on set I was kind of numb. I didn’t cry a lot,” Reiner exclusively told Parade.com.
“Having lost a parent I know that sometimes you can feel deeply sad and deeply numb at the same time; that is grief,” Reiner explained. “Then again, when I was on TV this morning I started crying just looking at the trailer. So, grief comes in waves and it often comes at inappropriate times.”
In the beginning, everybody loved to hate your character, Fig. Do you feel like she’s softened up a little bit around the edges?
I would agree with that, for sure. Whenever you get the opportunity to play a character that grows and changes and becomes more complex and multi-faceted, it’s sort of like a metaphor that may work. When we first met Fig she was this kind of fancy diamond ring, and she loved her diamonds. We found out quite quickly that she may in fact have stolen some of those diamonds.
But then it’s like you turn over the ring and you see some unique engraving in the ring and the way the light catches it from upside down and the engraving on the inside of the ring is almost more interesting than that shiny diamond that you first looked at. I think one of the special things that this show does is that it turns upside down and inside out some of our preconceived notions of people and who they are.
Beth Dover and Alysia Reiner in Orange Is the New Black (Photo Courtesy of Netflix)
How has Orange Is the New Black changed you career-wise and personally?
Well, as an actor it’s been nothing short of miraculous.
I was just in Portugal and recognized by an Austrian fan. There is something very unique about being on a show that’s watched by 105 million people. It’s a rare day now that I don’t get recognized. That’s definitely a game-changer in reference to fans. One of the things about being an actor is you still always have to get your next job. We’re always thinking about that. I’m very lucky that I’m on two other shows, too. So I’m on Better Things on FX and The Deuce on HBO. So, I get to continue to play on those shows.
What do fans say to you or want to know from you?
A lot of people say, “You’re like my favorite character. I love you.”
Do you think the fans will be happy with season seven without telling them too much about what to expect?
I truly have no idea; I can’t get into anybody else’s head. I’m super proud of being part of the content that has from the beginning and continues to talk about aspects of our society and our economy and I guess by extension politics that no one has gone to before. There’s a level of diversity in this show. There’s a level of exploring and giving light to the LGBTQ community, and obviously the criminal justice or injustice system, and this season the immigration issue and ICE. I’m so proud to be part of art that does that.
Why do you think fans around the world have identified with these women and these characters and their struggles? I feel like they’ve run the gamut of emotions.
Yes. I think on a core level it’s because Jenji crafted these strong complex characters in the same diamond analogy. Each character has such depth and a strong base in their own personal reality and they’re all so identifiable and relatable no matter what they “did” wrong and their foibles and what brought them to this prison, be it Fig or any of the characters who are in prison, such as the characters who killed people.
What else can you share about this?
I think that Jenji touches upon such truths about women and their dynamics and their relationships. One of the things I think she and the whole team are so genius at is treading that tight rope between comedy and drama.
Related: Orange Is the New Black Star Taylor Schilling on Misfits, Making Things Stick and Finding Your Family
So, part of the magic is the universal aspect and humanity of the show.
Yes. I think she can write about the complexity of our relationships with our mothers or our children in a way that is very rare and magical. I think sometimes the show also feeds into the way women relate to one another even though it’s not a mother/daughter relationship that our relationships with our mother sometimes really can reflect on our current relationships in very deep ways.
Alysia Reiner as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa and Nick Sandow as Joe Caputo in Orange Is the New Black (Photo Courtesy of Netflix)
Will you keep in touch with your co-stars, especially Nick Sandow, who plays Joe Caputo?
I’m sure we will all keep in touch as a group. Also, Nick and I are both married with children and don’t really have time to socialize when we’re not on the set. I adore him as a human. He’s a spectacular actor, director and artist. We both do have homes on Fire Island, so I’m hoping this summer we will have them over for a barbecue and we will all hang out and have fun with our families.
I know you don’t play an inmate, but when you’re shooting in a prison setting, did you find that being in that environment was difficult at times?
My character got to go home every night. Being there I surely felt the emotion of the space and didn’t want to live there but I think that spending an actual night in a prison, which I have never done, must be a million times worse.
I visited working prisons, which was also very scary, but there is nothing like being locked in a cell and spending a night there. That is not something I’ve ever experienced and I wouldn’t deem to compare any of my life experiences to that because I think that it would be a very superficial comparison.
Related: Samira Wiley on How Orange Is the New Black Changed Her Life
You became emotional working on the show.
Yes, there are certainly moments on the prison set where I look around and it’s overwhelming the sort of pain and sadness of what that experience must be like. There were scenes that I can’t talk about in this last season where even though Fig was not that moved by it I was wrecked by the experience of just being in the imaginary circumstance of some of the things that are happening in our country right now.
With the episodes this season involving ICE and the whole criminal justice system, did you get more personally involved?
I have become more active because of my experience, absolutely. I work with many groups, including Families Belong Together, Kids in Need of Defense and Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. I’m part of the Resistance Revival Chorus, we sing as an act of resistance, and we’ve protested a great deal including in front of ICE.
I went to experience and hear some of the stories of undocumented people and their horrific experiences coming across the border, and what it was like in the detention centers. I went to the shelter at the Jewish Family Services of San Diego where ICE drops off children every single night.
I kept feeling like the seventh season kept focusing on hope and that even in our darkest hour there is always hope. Don’t give up on your children or yourself. Do you see this as one of the messages?
I hope so. I believe in hope, but more than anything I believe faith needs hard work to go with it. So, is it my sincere hope that people watch this season and go and take action.
Related: Dianne Guerrero on Goofing Off With the Orange Is the New Black Cast
What kind of action?
To go and talk to their representatives and either donate their time or their money to organizations that help people in prison because so many of them are in prison in an unjust way and not for the right reasons. I hope that people take action around our immigration crisis because we are treating human beings inhumanely and that needs to stop as a country. The way America works is if enough people stand up and say that things have to change, they will change. That is what it means to live in a democracy. I guess it’s my hope that with that grief people take those feelings and take action.
Would you say that this is a good sendoff; that we are getting a good ending?
Everybody has to decide for themselves, but I think so. I certainly do.
Orange Is the New Black begins streaming its seventh and final season on Friday, July 26, on Netflix.
Related: Everything Coming to Netflix in August 2019
Orange Is The New Black Showed Us Balls! What Does It Mean?
The new season of Orange is the New Black gave us a special gift this season, and that gift is a pair of testicles. #Ballgate2016 — the name I’m assigning this event — happens in episode 5. The guards are hanging out at their on-campus housing, a new perk instituted to attract more candidates to work at the prison. Their version of “hanging out,” of course, is taking shots at each other’s masculinity and drinking beers in their underwear. Officer Dixon (Mike Houston) offers Officer Stratman (Evan Hall) his can of Coors, which he’s holding against his thigh. He hasn’t sipped it yet, and it’s nice and cold. “Is Officer Dixon pacing himself?” Stratman asks. When he grabs the beer, we see a shot of Dixon’s balls, which are sticking out of his boxers. “I’m never gonna be able to unsee that,” Stratman claims. Bros, am I right? Also, let’s take a moment to appreciate the not-so-subtly phallic names of these men. The question is: Is male nudity starting to rear its head (yep, pun fully intended) and pitch a tent (sorry, I can’t stop) on mainstream television? In October 2015, we had full-frontal male nudity in a sex scene on The Affair, which was a cute way to ease ourselves into the nude dude. Though more recently, and more importantly, we saw the gritty realness of what boy bits really look like. Game of Thrones went for it earlier this season with a close-up of a chap checking his penis for warts. In a show that’s normally all tits and ass — usually for reasons having little to do with plot — it was shocking to see a schlong, even if that schlong was presented in the most mundane, unsexy way imaginable. (The antithesis of the role the female body plays in the show.) So the OITNB balls is an important step in what I can only hope is an increase in male nudity on screen. Orange Is the New Black has a reputation for portraying realistic female bodies engaged in everything from showering to oral sex. So it makes sense that when the series explored male nudity, it didn’t opt for the phallus of a Calvin Klein model who had a walk-on role. Instead, male nudity at Litchfield means a pair of balls from a dirty prison guard hiding himself behind a can of beer. And that, my friends, is the kind of matter-of-fact stuff we need.
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Joel Loosebowels is a main character and a former CO and staff electrician/manager of the Electrical shop at Litchfield Penitentiary. He generally serves as an anti-villain, but in Season Three and Season Seven he serves as a tertiary antagonist. He is portrayed by Matt Peters.
Loosebowels is sarcastic, and somewhat apathetic. He doesn’t appear to enjoy his job, although he appears to lack motivation to seek another: when a screwdriver goes missing from the shop, he buys another with his own money to avoid disciplinary action.
Not much is known about Loosebowels. He often verbally abuses the female inmates including Piper by making inappropriate sexual remarks to them.
Multiple people suggest he is an alcoholic, and he is seen regularly adding alcohol to his morning coffee. It is confirmed that he consumes drugs on at least a semi-regular basis, primarily when Nicky proposes to Luschek that he sells her heroin and he is unperturbed, and when he tells the laundry staff to wash his uniform during “Bed Bugs and Beyond”, but first removes a baggie of marijuana from the pockets.
Joel Loosebowels has medium ash blond hair and blue eyes. With the reason being unknown, he does not wear a traditional CO uniform. He is always seen wearing a blue cotton shirt with pants similar to the CO’s. He is of average height and is slightly chubby, likely a ‘beer-belly’
In Piper’s first day in electrical, he introduces himself and welcomes her and Watson to the class. When Watson tells him that she was not going to fix a lamp without pay, Luschek makes a comment that she was “one of those” and puts her behind the cage, tasking her to keep track of whom take tools from the wall.
After a lunch break and the class is dismissed, Luschek panics as there was one screwdriver missing.
Loosebowels tries to help Nicky Nichols and Big Boo with the heroin that they stole from Vee in Season Two.
Loosebowels gets caught with heroin in his desk in Electrical, placed there by Nicky. He is quick to accuse Nicky, and Caputo believes him due to Nicky being an ex-heroin addict. This causes Nicky to be transferred to MAX. He is one of the few original Litchfield staff characters to remain in the series after Season 3.
During Season Four he befriends the new inmate, Judy King, and seems to enjoy her presence at Litchfield. They become friends, and he shares his drink with her. (“Piece of Sh*t”)
During “Piece of Shit”, Luschek arrives at work and CO Bayley alerts him that his mailbox is overflowing with letters. He opens them up and all of them are written on yellow lined paper calling Luschek names – they are from Nicky. He then asks Judy King for advice on the situation. Later, an argument happens between Loosebowels and Coates when Luschek is too busy playing a soccer game to take a bleeding Gina to the clinic. Coates then proceeds to call Luschek a piece of shit and Luschek starts to question everything.
During “People Persons” and “Toast Can’t Never Be Bread Again”, Luschek is assigned to protect Judy and Yoga Jones in their room. Judy produces some MDMA, which they all take, and they soon start having a threesome.
Loosebowels is rounded up with the other guards as hostages and subjected the cruel punishments. When he’s stripped down to his underwear it’s revealed that he has a boner, which he says happens when he’s scared- or aroused. Later, unable to leave and go to a bathroom, he pees himself, earning nicknames like “Piss Bitch.”
He is the last guard left in the bubble after Gloria takes them all to “The Poo” for her plan to release them, and ends up locked in there with her after the others figure out what she was doing. He talks to her about her son’s surgery, saying his roommate in college had the same one, and that it has a high survival rate. When the riot officers begin storming the building, she is upset at having no phone to call and see how the surgery went, he tells her to run to Healy’s office.
Once she leaves Cabrera handcuffs him to herself, saying he would be her human shield, but once they’re forced to jump into a closet to hide from officers, he lands on her ankle and she can no longer walk. He ends up picking her up and carrying her out of the prison.
After the events of the riots, Luschek, along with Ryder Blake and Artesian McCullough returns to work at Litchfield, this time at Max. Later in the break room, McCullough asks Luschek how he can be this calm, considering what happened the last time they were inside of a prison. Rick Hopper and the other CO’s then enter the room and invite all 3 newcomers to Fantasy Inmate. Luschek is really excited about this, having heard rumors of it before not being quite sure if those rumors were true. He later asks Hopper for advice on how to select inmates. Hopper tells him he has an advantage because he knows some of the inmates from minimum security. At the end of their shifts, Luschek invites both Blake and McCullough to a party. McCullough reveals she has taken up a second job as a taxi driver. While Blake seems concerned about McCullough, Luschek just wonders if she has gotten sexier. (“I’m the Talking Ass”)
One evening, Copeland and Alvarez meet Joel Luschek, Artesian McCullough, Stefavonic, Ryder Blake and Rick Hopper to decide on players for fantasy inmate. When the COs show up at his house, it is very messy, as he states that he likes to break his neighbors’ kids’ skateboards and they seek revenge by egging and T-P/ing his house. He has inputted the rules and players that Alvarez has supplied ino the TV. Together, they decide to make Luschek the new commissioner for fantasy inmate, despite Alvarez’ discomfort. Luschek is angered when Stefanovic chooses Nicky. Luschek provides Blake with a can of coke since he does not drink alcohol for religious reasons, (they also don’t consume caffeine). He later laughs as Blake ended up smoking weed. (“Mischief Mischief”)
Luschek is later made the Head of Receation at the Maximum Security prison, despite his laziness, where the Litchfield inmates were moved to. He is in charge of inmates’ outside time as well as exercises, such as dance and aerobics classes. He has to replace Cathy and deals with auditions. He meets with Flaca, who originally fails to impress his as she needs a partner. He also states Maritza is prettier and has a better voice. Alana Dwight does sock puppets, Zirconia does chanting, which he doesn’t like but is nice to her. Later, the exercise group criticizes him for sending them home after the VCR doesn’t work, he shouts at them. After Flaca and Cindy arrive at an audition and he is so bored that he just gives it to them immediately. He later does an EDM workout which the inmates don’t enjoy. (“State of the Uterus”)
Luschek is trying to get the VCR to work so that the inmates can exercise. Gloria says that this doesn’t count as exercise. Luschek makes them do 400 jumping jacks. Luschek dismisses the class after watching Irene jump around in her cast. Madison stays behind and talks to Luschek. He says that he’ll help her out if he gets 60% of whatever she’s trying to do but Madison says 20%, 30% tops. He asks her what she’s looking to get her hands on. Luschek is directing an exercise class. Afterward, Madison takes the phone he was using to play music on and hides it in her cast. He tells her that there will be all new songs on Friday. She tells him that next time to charge the phones up more. That if he brings them in faster there might be something for him. (“Changing Winds”)
Luschek gives the inmates a bunch of basketballs. He’s trying to advertise his exercise class. Piper goes up to him and tries to blackmail him by telling him that she knows about him smuggling in cellphones. She tells him that they should bring back kickball. Luschek says he could bust her for having a cell phone but Piper says he could lose her job if they found out she got it from him. Luschek says that he’ll see what he can do about bringing kickball back.
After Gloria’s advice, he begins doing salsa like classes with spanish music. He is Gloria’s partner and gets a boner, surprising her and upsetting Zirconia. (“Break the String”)
During kickball practice, Badison doesn’t take the training seriously and kicks the ball so it gets stuck. No-one seems impressed by this, except Nicole, who laughs hysterically. McCullough gets Luschek to get the ladder and later he feels stupid for not remembering there is multiple balls. Piper gets it while Luschek and McCullough help her hold the ladder. McCullough asks if Head of Rec gets extra money, because she can’t drive for LYFT anymore. Piper sees the field, and Badison backs her up when Piper begs to be able to use the field. He agrees. McCullough is worried they’ll be outnumbered out there and panics. Luschek states if they fight eachother, it’s not a riot. Later, he arrives at Gloria’s bunk and asks Blanca to leave so he can talk to Gloria. He asks why she has left class and wonders if it is because of his boner. She tells him about how the blocks internally bully her. (“Chocolate Chip Nookie”)
Blake criticises Luschek about Fantasy Inmate saying that they are humans. Blake drops out and Luschek states that he’ll be getting some points. (“Well This Took a Dark Turn”)
Linda and Luschek are in charge of the inmates to be in PolyCon’s video. He gets mad at Rosalie Deitland for wasting his time and jokes to Linda that they should just pick them randomly. Linda is not impressed. Later, at his recreational class, he notices that there is a lack of people. Gloria Mendoza arrives and is immediately criticised by Brock who tell her to leave and remind them of Badison. He shouts at them calling them rude and that the class is open to anyone. They say they double hate her now that she is part of D-Block. (“Double Trouble”)
Luschek gets annoyed when Alvarez announces the end of Fantasy Inmate due to Gloria discovering it. He later drives away as he sees the kickball game begin, likely fearing that a fight would break out. (“Be Free”)
- Randy, a friend that drops him at work in Season Four.
- Nicky Nichols (former)
- Sam Healy
- Scott O’Neill
- Wanda Bell
- Wade Donaldson
- Elique Maxwell
- Judy King
- Lee Dixon
- Artesian McCullough
- CO Blake
- B. Stratman
- Gloria Mendoza
- Nicky Nichols, an inmate working in Luschek’s electrical shop, who seemed to have a decent relationship with him, until Joe Caputo finds some of the heroin he was selling and Luschek points the finger at her, getting her sent to Max. Later in season 4, Luschek sleeps with Judy King in order to get Nichols out of Max. It’s revealed that he has feelings for her when he finds her rooting through his drawer for drugs. She quickly dismisses his feelings, telling him he’s an idiot for falling for a “card-carrying lesbo”. However, in Season Six, He allows her to officiate a wedding for Piper and Alex.
- Janae Watson, an inmate working in Luschek’s electrical shop. Watson and Luschek dislike each other, as seen when Watson complains about her job. Luschek directs some racist comments her way.
- Piper Chapman, an inmate working in Luschek’s electrical shop. Luschek and Piper have a tense relationship, due to Luschek’s rude attitude and the fact that he sold Nicky out in Season Three.
- Joe Caputo, Luschek’s boss, who is annoyed by Luschek’s general attitude and apathy.
- Gina Murphy – Shown to always be rude to Gina, and not care after possibly being infected with Tetanus. In season 5 when he tells her which wire to cut to turn off the alarm, she believes he’s lying and cuts a different one, cutting all the prison’s power.
- Maria Ruiz
- Alvarez – He stole Alvarez’s authority of Fantasy Inmate.
- Tamika Ward – Fired him
- Susan Fischer, whom he briefly dates during Season Two.
- Judy King, an inmate whom he sleeps with multiple times after befriending her when she first arrived at Litchfield. However, he is blackmailed into doing so initially, and later does so because he is high on MDMA.
- Yoga Jones – has a threesome with Luschek and Judy King whilst under the influence of MDMA in “People Persons”.)
- Cabrera (flirtation) – Zirconia is frequently seen suggesting she is interested in him, though the feelings are not returned. Even so, he carries out of the building after she injures her ankles at the end of the riot.
- Gloria Mendoza , in Season Six he gets a boner from dancing with her and smiles while watching her dance. They flirt a little and he helps her out with the gangs.
“It’s Luschek. Like in ‘loose check’.” How long have I worked here, man? God!” — to Healy in “Moscow Mule” “When I got there the blonde one was screaming and the hot one was stuck inside.” — Joel Luschek “Jesus Christ. You’re having your red dot special? Communists in your funhouse? Crimson tide?” — Joel Luschek “…Nope.” — Joel Luschek, after seeing the inmates running to the pond (Trust No Bitch) “Threesome..?” — Joel Luschek “It’s not a riot if they’re fighting eachother!” — Luschek to Artesian McCullough, (Chocolate Chip Nookie)
- He gets an erection when he’s scared.
- He never went to college, but he lived near campus and made his parents believe he did so they would send him checks for tuition. When they found out, his mother put raisins in all of his food for a whole month.
- He thinks that Maritza is hotter than Flaca (“State of the Uterus”)
- For most of the first season his name was pronounced Lu-check not loose-check
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Orange is the New Black
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There’s not a lot of room for lateral improvement inside the walls of Litchfield. Literally, there aren’t many places to move around, and figuratively there’s little opportunity for growth. It’s difficult to even maintain the status quo, as Linda and her wig might say. That means there’s generally only one place left to go…
And there’s often no quicker way to get there than by trying to rise to the top. In Episode 2 of the final season of Orange Is The New Black, positions of power—oh, they are a-changin’. Between flashbacks, prison drama above and below deck, post-prison drama, and a seething hatred for C.O. Hellman so fiery it threatens to consume the earth whole, there are suddenly a lot of balls in motion following a fairly simplistic premiere. So let’s get right to it:
Episode 2 opens in a pop-pop-poppin’ New York City club which might lead you to believe we’re opening on a flashback, but no—Maritza is participating in an ass-shaking contest, and she is doing it in the present.
Our girl, so sorely missed in Season 6, is back on our screens, back out of prison, and not wasting a moment. After winning the contest with ease (and ass), she and her friend waltz over to the VIP section, and it’s two scenes flat before she’s made a low-level NBA player fall in love with her. But he’s an NBA player who lives in L.A. which means he wants her to come to L.A., very much not a thing she can do while on parole.
As Maritza toys with the idea of breaking her parole to fulfill her truest WAG-potential, Piper is also dealing with the humbling duties of post-prison life, namely, wiping baby butts to pay her rent. Neri is going back on the craft fair circuit, which means Piper can nanny to pull her rent. But that also means she has to go to take Baby Goodall’s “socialization group” where certain moms think breastfeeding should be a round-robin style activity. They do provide Piper with some good perspective, however, on the “long distance” relationship she tells them she’s struggling with. Piper says with Alex so far away, she has no idea what’s going on with her or how she’s feeling, and she’s afraid Alex will do something reckless.
“Well…did you marry someone who does reckless things?” one of the mothers asks. (“Who wants a turn nursing Nathan?!” asks another.)
Recklessness might not be the source, but Piper has good reason to be worried about Alex who has been forced into an impossible position by C.O. Hellman, an oozing wound with eyes. Alex tells Hellman that it’s impossible to move his stash with all the random drug searches going on and she can’t swallow it again. “They’re searching our lockers twice a day, so you better fucking Tampax that shit before I make like I caught you with it,” Hellman says. Oh, but he’s not done! Then he talks about how big his dick is for a while, including threatening to shove it down Alex’s throat if she doesn’t sell the rest. “Now I know for sure you’re a fucking dyke, most girls would have creamed at that offer,” he says in parting.
This is the man that Hopper is suggesting for new Head Guard to Linda.
Let me back up: Linda is back and better/worse than ever! She seems to constantly be at the center of a photo shoot and talking about women dying of drug overdoses in her prison like it’s a dusty shelf that needs a little extra cleanin’. That cleaning includes firing Figeuroa as interim warden with the intention of promoting Hopper, and making one of the current C.O.s the new Head Guard. Just about ever C.O. heads in for an interview with Linda, and just about ever C.O. is utterly unimpressive, except for Ward.
When she found out she was making $10,000 less than all the white male guards a year ago, she started taking night classes in corrections management to improve her chances of getting a raise. And those night classes just so happen to be taught by Caputo who is…well, trying his best.
He tells Ward that Linda is all about the bottom line (he also tells her Linda is a soulless bitch who wears a wig), and Ward goes in with a winning thesis statement about “keeping costs down while making sure that the prison remains safe in a way that honors the PolyCon brand.” But Ward also goes off script to say that she thinks of prison as an opportunity: “We get people when they’re at their lowest point which means maybe they’d be willing to try something new—to change.” Linda loves it.
But inspiration is often short-lived around here (at least the positive kind). McCullough watches Hellman through squinted eyes and gritted teeth all episode knowing that he’s the reason they have to arrive early for drug searches, and he’s the reason the prison is flush with drugs (she, of course, does not know the whole reason). When she catches Alex in the employee kitchen trying to force Hellman’s heroine inside his locker, it’s unclear what she’ll do. She’s probably the best person to catch Alex, but the best case scenario at Litchfield is rarely that good.
Alex pleads with McCullough to help her, telling her that Hellman is forcing her to sell drugs and she knew if she went to the administration no one would believe her…
And that is enough to snap McCullough out of a funk she’s been in basically since we met her, and definitely since the prison riot. She flashes back to her days as an Army private about to head in to combat. She’s an ace shot but her Sergeant tells her she needs to stop showing off and figure how to make friends with her seemingly all-male unit if she wants to ever feel confident that they’ll have her back when the going gets tough. No one really considers why McCullough would want to have the backs of a bunch of sexist assholes, but as the only woman, that’s not really a call she gets to make.
So she hires a stripper for one of the guys’ birthdays and everyone loves it; everyone gets drunk; everyone passes out; and the private who’s been the nastiest to McCullough the whole time starts feeling her up while she’s asleep. The next morning, all the guys who were cheering her on the night before are ignoring her because “maybe they think you’ll accuse them of some bullshit too.” McCullough reported the assault, the guy didn’t get in trouble, no one believes her, and now she literally has to head into combat with these people. As they unload out of the vehicle, there’s unexpected fire—McCullough stays inside the truck.
And back at Litchfield, as Daya makes the decision to switch the narrative on accidentally killing Daddy turning it into a power play so that people fear her rather than try to retaliate against her, McCullough makes a power play of her own. She’s *this close* to turning in an incident report on Alex that includes the accusation that she got the drugs from Hellman, but when she walks into the guard room, Hopper, Hellman, and two other male guards are all simulating sex to show how their interviews with Linda went.
History tells McCullough that no one would believe her. So McCullough goes to Alex’s cell and tells her that she believes her about Hellman. So she can either turn the incident report in with Hellman’s name on it and no one will care, or Alex can start selling for her with a five percent increase on what she was making with Hellman. Not great for Alex, but for McCullough it is…movement. In which direction is yet to be determined.
Because for every win on Orange Is the New Black there is an equal and opposite shit storm. A definite win is that while all the idiot C.O.s get their rejection e-mails for Head Guard, C.O. Ward gets a phone call: she hasn’t been named Head Guard; she’s been named the new warden (sorry not sorry Hopper). And here comes the shit storm: as Maritza’s friend tries to cheer her up for making the right decision not to violate her parole, the club they’re in is raided by ICE, and the next thing we know, Maritza is being marched into a PolyCon detention center with Linda’s smiling face on the wall, sobbing that they’ve made a mistake, she’s a U.S. citizen.
I’m reminded of the words Suzanne yells during a pudding-induced incident after suddenly having to grapple with the idea that maybe—just maybe—the legal system got it wrong, and she doesn’t deserve to be in prison…
This isn’t fair.
Jodi Walkerwrites about TV forEntertainment Weekly, Vulture, Texas Monthly,and in her pop culture newsletterThese Are The Best Things. She vacillates between New York, North Carolina, and every TJ Maxx in between.
Stream Orange Is The New Black Season 7 Episode 2 (“Just Desserts”) on Netflix
Alysia Reiner is best known for her role as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa, the tough-as-nails assistant warden everyone loves to hate on the Netflix hit series Orange Is the New Black (2013), for which she won a Screen Actors Guild award as part of the ensemble cast. She also played Sunny in the FX show Better Things (2016). Additionally she played District Attorney Wendy Parks on ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder (2014), Lilian Izikoff on Rosewood (2015) and Fiona in the TNT series Search Party (2016).
On the film front, Reiner starred with Anna Gunn in Equity (2016) about the first female-driven Wall Street film, which she also produced. The film premiered at Sundance, was immediately acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, and was released in theaters nationwide. Other recent film includes “School Spirits,” “Shine,” and Whitney Cummings’ “The Female Brain.”
Reiner loves working as a change maker for women, and has been invited to The White House, The United Nations, S.H.E. Summit, Google, and Cannes Lion to speak about breaking barriers for women in all fields. Additionally, she was awarded the Sarah Powell Huntington Leadership Award by the Women’s Prison Association, and she has been honored with the Voice of a Woman Award, the Pioneer In Filmmaking Award, and the CSC’s Founders Award for Support. She was recognized as an Intelligent Optimist in Ode Magazine and profiled by New York Women in Film and Television as a woman to watch.
– IMDb Mini Biography By: Affirmative Entertainment
Alysia Reiner is an American actress who has appeared in several award-winning films, television shows, and Off Broadway theatrical works.
She portrays Natalie “Fig” Figueroa in Orange Is the New Black.
Early Life Edit
Reiner was born on July 21, 1970 in Gainesville, Florida, USA.
Reiner has appeared in several Off Broadway works including two persian-themed plays directed by Abdolhossein Sepanta focusing on the struggles of lesbian women in Persian culture. One of her early roles was in the 2005 Drama Desk-nominated New York premiere of Pentecost, by Tony Award-winning playwright David Edgar. She recently joined Tim Crouch in the Obie Award-winning An Oak Tree at The Barrow Street, and Jayson with a Y with The New Group. At The Beckett, she played roles in Anaïs Nin: One of Her Lives and Wasps in Bed. She has been deemed “Off Broadway Favorite” by Theatremania and was called “priceless” by the New York Times.
Film and televisionEdit
Reiner has appeared in several recent films, including The Vicious Kind, Arranged, Schooled, and The Narrow Gate (which won the award for “Best Female Filmmaker” at the San Diego Film Festival). In 2005, she played the role of Christine in the film Sideways, which won Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Reiner’s only TV lead role was on the pilot of An Englishman in New York. She has appeared as a guest on The Sopranos, Love Monkey, The Jury, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Drew Carey Show, The Practice, Family Law, Jack & Jill, and White Collar. Reiner has a recurring role as Natalie Figueroa on Orange Is the New Black.
Reiner has just announced that she and writing partner Sarah Megan Thomas will be launching Broad Street Pictures to produce films with strong female roles. The company’s first project is to be a thriller set on Wall Street starring Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, best known for The Nanny Diaries, to write the screenplay.
Reiner is married to actor David Alan Basche. The couple has a daughter, Livia, who was born on December 5, 2008.
Alysia Reiner’s twitter is @alysiareiner . Her instagram is @alysiareiner .
In Their Shoes: ‘Equity’ Producers Alysia Reiner and Sarah Megan Thomas
The ladies behind the new female-centric production company Broad Street open up about their go-to kicks while attending this year’s Sundance festival.
The buzz has been fierce at Sundance Film Festival and beyond about Equity — the first Wall Street film with a female lead — which has already won the Creative Coalition Spotlight Award. Picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for worldwide distribution, the film was produced by Orange Is the New Black actress Alysia Reiner and Sarah Megan Thomas under their new shingle, Broad Street Pictures.
The duo founded their production company in 2015 with the aim of creating entertaining and thought-provoking movies or, in their words, “wildly entertaining tales about brilliant women doing rad things” which also employ women both in front of and behind the camera.
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Equity stars two-time Emmy Award-winner Anna Gunn as an investment banker fighting to get a promotion as she leads a controversial tech IPO at her firm in a post-financial crisis world.
We caught up with Reiner and Thomas, who also appear in the film, at Sundance to delve a little more deeply into their footwear choices both on the red carpet — where they’ll surely be spending plenty of time in the next few months — and off. Their shoe wardrobe, as you will see, reveals all.
What are your favorite pair of shoes of all time?
Megan Thomas: I have these black, Stuart Weitzman boots that are suede, tight up to the knee — not over-the-knee. They have about a three-inch heel — I like heels, but I don’t like six-inch heels because I am tall and athletic and I like to be comfortable. I have had them for 10 years, they’ve been to three cobblers, they even had a split up the side that I had re-sewn! They are stylish and cute, but I can walk miles in NYC in them and they fit like a glove. You have to sort of pull them on, like leather pants. They’re my everyday go-to dress up shoes.
For events, my favorite shoes are these Prada purple-satin, four-inch, single-sole stilettos they gave me for the premiere of Backwards. Normally I’m pretty traditional with shoes — like black, cream, etc. — but these purple shoes are killer. Also, I have a very narrow foot and Prada fits really well on me.
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Reiner: That’s really hard because I love shoes so much and picking a favorite would be like picking a favorite child. I have a pair of Prada Mary Janes I got at Loehman’s for 90 percent off 15 years ago and they are such classics, they go with everything. They are a high-heeled Mary Jane, round toe with a brownish leather with a tinge of red. They are so classic and go with every dress, they are a piece of art.
BACK TO BLACK: Alysia Reiner wears Sorel booties at the Creative Coalition Spotlight Initiative Awards Gala (left) and at ChefDance Park City. (Photos: Getty Images)
My favorite event shoes are a Hugo Boss black patent-leather bootie with a very thin stiletto heel that I brought with me that I will be wearing this week. I’ve worn them to countless premieres and red carpets. They sent them to me as a gift seven years ago and they have become a classic. The patent leather has stayed beautiful. I’m a bootie girl. I’m wearing these chunky-heeled Sorels right now, I love these. (Pictured above.)
And, you know, speaking of the psychology of shoes, my husband loves buying me shoes, very high heels, which makes me much taller than him, which says a lot about his psychology. He’s not afraid of being with a taller woman and he’s not afraid of being with a strong broad — which, of course, brings us to Broad Street!
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Do shoes help you get into character?
Thomas: When I think of a character, I find the character sometimes with the shoes. Because even when you are on stage, it’s the type of shoe you are in. Sometimes on the set of Equity, Meera would say, “Oh, you don’t have to wear your shoes because it’s a close-up,” and I would say, “No, Meera, I have to wear the shoes, because I have to feel the role.”
Reiner: I’m the same way. There are a lot of actresses who can wear their Uggs during a scene, and I only do that if they make me do that — like if I’m working with a shorter man and they request me to take off my shoes. Otherwise, I feel the exact same way. A high heel makes you feel different than a non-high heel. I love a high bootie because they are so high but comfortable, so I feel strong and powerful. That’s the best.
Why do you think women feel powerful in taller shoes?
Reiner: For me, I am a really tall woman and I am really tall in heels and I feel bigger, and I like being bigger. I think I was a king in a past life.
Thomas: You just do. I am a sneaker girl and wear sneakers 75 percent of the time, but when I put on a heel for work or a meeting, I like the height, I like having long legs, I like how I feel.
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What’s your favorite go-to sneaker?
Thomas: I’m the type who wears a skirt with sneakers on the way to a meeting on the subway and then changes into other shoes when I get there. I wear Asics, the same one, in the same color — hot pink — every time. My mom finally told me I needed to mix it up and get different sneakers! So I got these gorgeous black-leather sneakers at Intermix in New York. So now I have hot pink and black-leather sneakers!
Reiner: We’re the same that way. I have as many pairs of sneakers as I have shoes. I have a new pair in fact from Paragon, where I actually went and got fitted to get a good pair of sneakers for my body and I spent a fair amount of dough on them. They are called Newtons and they’re more padded in the front and I love them, they fit so well — hot pink!
Reiner said that the writers on the show did “an extraordinary job” tackling the difficult subject matter, and some even visited actual detention centers to try to portray them accurately. She added it was “disheartening” to hear from writers that what was written into this season was actually “less severe than what’s actually going on.”
“The holding areas are large, bulletproof fish tanks,” wrote Carolina Paiz, a writer for the show, in an opinion piece for BuzzFeed News this July on the conditions inside the detainment facilities.
”Inside, tables and benches are bolted to the floor, some with checkerboard tops but no pieces to play with. Individual cells line the walls. Inside, detainees in prison scrubs lay on metal bunks, bored,” Paiz continued. “They turn to look at us as we walk by. We try not to stare, pretending we’re not part of some disaster tourism group.”
The show also featured a toll-free hotline, which worked in real life to help people locked in detainment centers find a lawyer. However, the hotline was shut down after being featured on OITNB.
Reiner said viewers of the series should tell “all their representatives to say this is not okay” if they were moved by the show.
“This hotline is necessary for people in detention centers. It’s horrific that it’s been shut down, so deeply wrong,” she said.
Reiner is also working to make a difference and has visited shelters at the border containing people detained by ICE. She also teamed up with an organization called Action Potluck that assists asylum-seekers who don’t have a family in the country to provide them with a sanctuary.
Watch the complete interview with Alysia Reiner below:
Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
Warning: This interview contains spoilers from the second season of Orange Is the New Black. Proceed at your own risk.
Natalie Figueroa, or “Fig,” — the assistant warden, and for the inmates and officers, the ultimate authority at Litchfield — had a rough go of it in the second season. She caught her politico husband canoodling with his bespectacled male aide, and she quietly resigned (with a commendation, of course) when she felt the noose tightening around her neck. Vulture caught up with Alysia Reiner, who plays Fig, on the patio of the Bowery Hotel at the after-party of the premiere of Begin Again. She spoke with us about how she gets into Fig’s mindset, whether she thinks Fig is good at her job, and about the the “beer can” scene. You know the one.
How did you get the part of Fig?
I auditioned for Alex and I auditioned for Polly — so I auditioned for her lover and her best friend. I got neither role. I had 24 hours of sadness, and then you have to forget about it. Part of your job is you have to shed and forget about it. Later my agent and manager called and said, “Orange called and they just direct-offered you this role on the show. It’s a new role.” Not knowing anything about the role, not having a single line, I was just like, “Yes!” because I loved that script so much and I loved Jenji so much. I did a happy dance with my daughter and my husband. She’s a 5-year-old. She was like, “Momma’s doing a serious dance. I must join her now.” And she did.
What part of yourself do you access to play Fig?
I access the part of myself that’s too hungry, too angry, too tired, and maybe some hormones are involved. We’ve all had those moments where you think everyone around you is stupid. Being who I am, I try and pray my way or meditate my way out of that, but when I play Fig, I don’t do any of those. I just go, “What the fuck is your problem?” And that’s how she feels about pretty much everything. “What the fuck is your problem? Why can’t you just handle this?”
In season one, we had a very specific idea about Fig as this domineering, ruthless character; and in season two, we get a lot more depth and intensity.
Today a fan stopped me and said, “She’s so mad, but she’s so sad.” I said, “Yeah, she’s so mad because she’s so sad.” I really do believe when you’re in a ton of pain, you tend to take it out on other people. If you deal with your stuff, you don’t take it out on everybody else. Girlfriend has not dealt with her stuff.
Like her husband? Do you think she really didn’t know?
I do believe that she didn’t know about her husband, because she is a woman who closed her eyes to a lot. And maybe this is an interesting moment in her life. I’m so curious where they go with her, because when one is forced to open her eyes about something, fascinating things can happen.
Exactly! I don’t know if they’re going to go there. Or maybe she’ll just stay a power-hungry woman who wants to be president someday.
What is going through Fig’s mind when she’s at the party for her husband and Caputo keeps calling her about the prison?
I just want my husband to be senator. I want to do everything I can to make him the king. There’s a Game of Thrones quality to that episode in a deep way. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and she is just single-minded. She is deeply focused.
What happens to her psyche when she’s confronted with the truth that her husband is having an affair with another man?
I can’t believe it. No no no no no no. I think she probably has blocked a lot over the years that she chose not to see. That one she couldn’t not see.
She’s so Lady Macbeth. It seems like moving forward, she’ll just be like, “Let’s put that in the closet.”
Let’s put it back in the closet! I think that’s probably best for everyone. She is a very pragmatic woman — unlike a lot of people on the show. She makes very calculated decisions. She is a very pragmatic woman, so I’m very curious what will happen.
Let’s get to that scene.
The “beer-can scene,” as it’s been titled.
What is Fig thinking about when she’s finally taken down? She looked destroyed.
I think Fig was deeply vulnerable. She was having one of the darkest moments of her soul, possibly in her life. And he threw her a bone. When you’re feeling that deeply sad, and as a woman, I can say, when someone says you’re hot, which he does, it’s like, “Oh, my life might not be over.” Which is — as I’m saying that — horrific, because it’s not like he said, “You’re a valuable human being.” He said, “You’re hot.” Which says a lot about women and our culture as well. But that was enough to bring her back to “herself,” who then went, okay, how can I manipulate this situation? How can I see if I can get my claws back in?
So that’s why she gave him the blow job?
I think so. I mean, who knows. As an actor, in the moment, the writing is so good, you just let it … it’s like riding a wave, it’s like surfing. When I have amazing writing, I try not to plan anything.
What was difficult about shooting that scene?
Just having to be there emotionally. As funny as people may find it, I couldn’t find it very funny. I had to just go for the experience and not the comedy. She in her own way loves what she does. She loves power. And the idea of something being taken from her is heartbreaking, and I think she was willing to do whatever it was that she needed to do.
Do you think she’s good at her job?
That’s such a great question. As Alysia or as Fig?
Let’s start with Fig.
I think as Fig I’m fucking awesome at my job. I think I keep that place running and if it were not for me, it would close the fuck down. I have eyes on the greater good, and I’m really good at my job.
I suck! As Alysia, I would have so many plans for really truly rehabilitating these women and educating these women and giving them possibility for the future. I personally am very active with the women’s prison association, and I designed a locket and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the women’s prison association. Were I in her position, I would hope I would do things differently, but I do believe she has helped keep the place open. I think it would have closed down and there would have been a lot of women on the streets, or there would be a lot of women in prisons very far from their spouses or their children, and that wouldn’t be very good for anybody. Keeping a prison open is good for everybody.
Would you love to see her in orange?
I would love to see her in orange! I’m a karmic girl, I believe in karma. I would love it. I think it would be a fascinating character study. Anyone campaigning for that, I would be like, “Yes!”
This post contains major spoilers for Orange Is the New Black season seven.
After six long years, Orange Is the New Black has finally come to an end. On Friday the Emmy-winning Netflix series debuted its seventh and final season, bringing Jenji Kohan’s sprawling dramedy about imprisoned women to a close. With dozens of characters to account for, the final season had to re-tread a lot of old territory while giving each of its many (many) characters a proper ending. The series even found ways to offer grace notes to old friends we hadn’t seen in a while—catching up for a brief moment with inmates like Janae Watson (Vicky Jeudy), who still loves running; Brook Soso (Kimiko Glenn), who finds a potential friendship in an unexpected source; and Leanne Taylor (Emma Myles) and Angie Rice (Julie Lake), who are still inseparable. Even Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow) and Natalie Figueroa (Alysia Reiner) find closure, choosing after a series of IVF treatments to adopt a child.
Some of the endings are tragic, some are hilarious, and some are achingly bittersweet—the show in a nutshell, really. If you want a cheat sheet, here’s how things wind up shaking out for every major player:
Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning)
Depressed about her GED test, which she assumes she failed, Pennsatucky overdoses on drugs at the end of season seven’s penultimate episode. Her body is discovered by a traumatized Taystee. Later Taystee discovers that Pennsatucky actually passed the test—a truly bittersweet moment that exemplifies Orange.
Taystee (Danielle Brooks)
Still in prison at the end of the series for a crime she did not commit—and resisting suicidal ideation prompted by her unfair sentence—Taystee starts a fund in Poussey’s name that gives newly released inmates small loans and a crash course in financial literacy, so they can get back on their feet. She gets help from former inmate Judy King (the Martha Stewart-inspired inmate, played by Blair Brown). That fund, by the way, was really launched by the OITNB crew; find more details here.
Daya (Dascha Polanco)
Daya goes full Scarface and becomes the drug kingpin of the prison, using her younger sister Eva as her drug mule. When her mother, Aleida (Elizabeth Rodriguez) gets rearrested and thrown in prison for beating up Eva’s drug-dealing boyfriend, she confronts Daya, smacking her in the throat and choking her. Things are left slightly open-ended, but one can assume that Aleida…might have killed Daya?
By JoJo Whilden/Netflix.Piper (Taylor Schilling)
Piper finishes up probation, gets a job at Starbucks and a place of her own in Ohio—and, after a brief affair with another woman, ultimately stays loyal to Alex. Speaking of…
Alex Vause (Laura Prepon)
Alex gets transferred to prison in Ohio, an act of revenge by C.O. McCullough (Emily Tarver) after Alex spurns her. Piper comes up to visit, keeping their relationship going.
Suzanne (Uzo Aduba)
She’s still in prison, and still trying to make the best of it, participating in Litchfield’s therapy-chicken program. “I’m growing up. It’s hard, but it’s happening,” she happily tells Taystee.
Red (Kate Mulgrew)
After developing early onset dementia, Red gets transferred to the cellblock dubbed “Florida,” where neuro-diverse inmates live. There, she (literally!) bumps into her old enemy Frieda Berlin. “You know, you remind me of someone,” she muses. “I can’t quite place it. One of these days I’ll put my finger on it.” Well, she finally remembers in the finale—then chases after Frieda. It’s not clear what happens next. The last time we see her, she’s singing a Russian lullaby to Lorna.
Lorna Morello (Yael Stone)
Struggling to accept the death of her child, a delusional Lorna gets transferred to Florida and ends the season bonding with Red.
Nicky (Natasha Lyonne)
Still in prison, Nicky slowly becomes the new Red and takes over the kitchen.
The following story contains spoilers for Orange Is the New Black season seven.
When Susan Heyward was cast in Orange Is the New Black as corrections officer Tamika Ward, she had no idea her character would become Litchfield’s well-meaning warden in the show’s final season. At the time, Heyward was busy preparing to play Rose Granger-Weasley in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’s 2018 Broadway premiere. “I was like, Oh, man, I guess they’ll only have me on for a few episodes and then I start rehearsals—Bye!” she said in a recent interview. But the producers worked around the Carnegie Mellon drama school graduate’s schedule so that she could have more screen time as Ward, a guard who is Taystee’s (Danielle Brooks) old high school buddy and burger-joint coworker.
It was a happy coincidence that Heyward and Brooks knew each other as well; both attended the same South Carolina arts high school, although not at the same time. “When saw my name on the call sheet, she immediately texted me and was like, ‘Girl, are we gonna get to play together? Yes!’” Heyward said. “I don’t know what kind of magic crystal ball the writers had, but we actually did have that foundational relationship to play with.”
Their characters’ friendship—the crux of a season-seven plot in which a suicidal Taystee is coaxed back to life by Tamika after becoming her assistant—underpins Heyward’s performance as the naive 26-year-old, a character who sees herself in Taystee.
“I think she’s fighting for herself—who she could’ve been—and for all of the other people she’s known who have gotten caught up in jail,” said Heyward. It’s pure bravado that allows Tamika to stand up to the prison’s male guards, who are intent on manipulating her and taking her down. “I end up playing characters with a little bit of chutzpah, going into situations before they’ve got the full scope of the situation,” she added, laughing. “I think that might be a little something the writers in me that comes out.”
Unaware how aligned she’s become with the system, Tamika takes correction-management night classes after discovering that the prison’s white officers make more money than she does—and being told that she has to step it up if she wants to eliminate the pay gap. “I think Tamika does what a lot of people do—certainly a lot of black women,” said Heyward, a Georgia-born pastor’s daughter. “You do the extra work that people tell you you have to do in order to make a difference where you are. I know I was certainly raised with the idea that I had to work twice as hard to get half as much.”
Yet when Tamika leaps over all of the other guards to land the warden job (“you are so well-spoken without being strident,” prison administrator Linda Ferguson (Beth Dover) tells her during an interview, “and I just love the way your hair looks”), she’s surprised to discover she’s a “diversity” hire. Having experienced tokenism herself, Heyward understands the difficulty in recognizing this unpleasant truth. “I’m a little bit like Tamika—I’m rarely able to see it at the beginning,” she said. “I find myself inside of it, and then realize it. And then sometimes I’m driven crazy because I’m not quite sure.”
In Tamika’s case, the reasons that underpin her hiring are affirmed by former warden Natalie “Fig” Figueroa (Alysia Reiner), who, along with her now-boyfriend—and Tamika’s night-class teacher—Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow), become Tamika’s mentors. Fig advises Tamika to make the most of her situation, and “get a better blazer.” She does, closing the prison’s solitary confinement unit, starting farm-therapy and GED programs for inmates, and upgrading her wardrobe—perhaps, Heyward imagined, thanks to family who worked in retail.
Meet the warden who rules the roost on ‘OITNB’
In the Season 3 finale of “Orange Is the New Black,” actor Nick Sandow’s put-upon prison administrator Joseph Caputo finally decides to look out for number one. “It’s my turn — it’s the year of Caputo!” he exclaims while berating under-appreciated subordinate guards eager to unionize.
Actually, it’s been more like The Year of Sandow. The Bronx native’s character was only supposed to pop up in a handful of episodes on Season 1 of the Netflix prison dramedy — but instead has grown into an attention-grabbing highlight on the otherwise female-driven show.
“If you told me the first year that I would be playing in a band called ‘Sideboob’ in the second season, I think I’d say you were crazy!” Sandow tells The Post, laughing and referring to the crassly-named garage band in which his character thumps a bass.
Sandow says Caputo was ripe for exploration.
“He’s middle management. We all know that guy — he’s in charge of a lot of people but there’s people on top of him who don’t care and are just looking at the bottom line,” he says. “I think the writers saw the fertile ground of that. He’s struggling, but the poor guy’s trying to do something right.”
“He’s struggling, but the poor guy’s trying to do something right,” says Sandow of his character Joseph Caputo.JoJo Whilden for Netflix
This season, Sandow’s part was upped from recurring to regular as beleaguered Caputo’s sense of control teeters with the privatization of Litchfield penitentiary, a bed bug infestation and having to personally track down an escaped inmate, all while having hate-sex with his former boss, Natalie “Fig” Figueroa (Alysia Reiner).
“I couldn’t ask for more. I think I’ve managed to definitely overshoot whatever I imagined,” he says. “But I have a way of not having too many expectations, unlike Caputo.”
When Sandow was 9, his father died of a heart attack at age 45, and his mother was left to raise Sandow and his three older sisters. Sandow didn’t go to college but instead moved to Manhattan around age 19 to study acting and work in theater.
His first paid TV gig was the usual rite of passage for any New York actor: a bit part on a “Law & Order” episode.
(In May both he and “Orange” costar Samira Wiley had guest roles on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU,” though they had no scenes together.)
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While Sandow has a number of small indie films to his credit, his resume is primarily populated by TV roles on shows (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Blue Bloods,” “How to Make It in America,” “Third Watch,” “NYPD Blue”). The medium has been a more realistic route as movie roles have diminished in the last decade, he says.
“There are character actors who made a living doing small roles in big films, but that’s done for — that’s gone,” he says. “It kinda got harder and harder for working class actors to make money in films. The money is in television for us.”
And, with TV success, Sandow can do other projects. Most recently, he wrote and directed a mob film, “The Wannabe,” which premiered at this year’s TriBeCa Film Festival and will be released in late fall. It stars Vincent Piazza, Patricia Arquette and longtime friend Michael Imperioli (“The Sopranos”). It’s also executive-produced by “Boardwalk Empire” EP Martin Scorsese, whom Sandow can now effortlessly call “Marty.”
Working on “Orange” also means getting recognized more because of Caputo’s distinctive handlebar mustache, which he only grows during filming. Last month’s season premiere coincided with the start of shooting for Season 4, so it’s harder to maintain a low profile.
“I walk into a coffee shop and stand next to someone who stayed up too late watching seven hours of the show, and they’re like, ‘Oh my god! I cannot believe you’re here!’” says Sandow, who lives in Brooklyn (Carroll Gardens) with his longtime girlfriend, painter and yoga teacher Tamara Malkin-Stuart, and their sons, Sasha, 13, and Sterling, 5.
Sandow, unlike his fans, isn’t entirely surprised where he’s landed.
“How did I wind up in a women’s prison? Growing up with three sisters and a mom in the Bronx, you have a real understanding of women in certain ways,” he jokes. “Talk about karmic. You never know why you get a role.”