'Orange Is the New Black' Star Selenis Leyva Teases 'Beautiful' Journey Gloria & Sophia in Season 4
Selenis Leyva's ready to do some more time in Litchfield Penitentiary.
The "Orange Is the New Black" actress is back in stir for a fourth season as Gloria Mendoza, the former prison kitchen chief who in the new season now finds herself working back under the watchful eye of recently-restored-to-glory Red (Kate Mulgrew), even as the now-privatized prison itself faces a major influx of new inmates. And then, of course, there's the prospect of a likely inevitable and most certainly explosive confrontation with Sophia (Laverne Cox) once she's released from the SHU hole Gloria maneuvered her into. The actress offers up some early prison chatter:
Moviefone: Did this new season cause you to rethink Gloria in any ways?
Selenis Leyva: You know what? I think that she's been really well-established, and we're going to see her just grow from here. I think that Season 3 was crucial and critical in the development of who Gloria is, and it's solid. It's a solid foundation. So now we're just going to see her continue to evolve, but we know who she is. She's been set up nicely.
Does she see her position in the prison further challenged with all these new faces coming in and the shakeup that's happening?
There's a lot of challenges this season. A lot of people are bringing in different dynamics, and Gloria is dealing with so much. She's trying to keep herself sane this season. And she's trying to stay out of whatever mess is happening with the groups, and the tensions, because she has so much on her plate.
Do you get to mix it up with the new faces at all?
They're everywhere. You're going to see. You're going to have new faces coming at you from every corner, every direction. They're everywhere.
Was that new influx exciting for you as a cast?
It is exciting. It's always exciting. Listen, we have our core people that we are so in love with and attached to. These new guys, they come in and they shake it up a little bit for us, and you're going to see how we're going to try to control that.
Gloria's got a little unfinished business--
She has a lot of unfinished business!
--with Sophia, who was still in solitary the last time we saw her.
Yeah, she has unfinished business, and we're going to explore that this season. I think the journey that Sophia and Gloria are taking this season is really beautiful. It's a really well-written story, and these women have a lot more to grow and learn from each other. So I'm really excited about what the fans are going to say when they see where they go.
To have your storyline zero in on those two characters' interactions and be able to work so closely with Laverne Cox -- for you, what was the takeaway?
It was a gift. I have a transgender sister, and from the very beginning I said to Laverne, "I'm going to be watching you closely," and I shared why. We had a good cry because one of the things that we do have in common, Laverne and I, is that we have great mothers. And that her mother has been such an amazing advocate and supporter of Laverne, and my mother has been that to all of us, especially my transgender sister.
So we have a lot in common, that Laverne Cox and myself. She's a good friend, and she does an amazing job with Sophie, and I am really grateful for that.
Have Laverne and your sister had a chance to meet?
Yes, they have!
How'd that relationship kick off?
My goodness! My sister was so happy and excited. She was, like, geeking out. I handed Laverne -- I think it was after the first season -- a GLAAD Award and I presented it to her. And that night, my sister was there. It was a really special moment.
"Orange Is the New Black" Season 4 premieres June 17th on Netflix.