As a small and sassy convict, Diane Guerrero has a feisty attitude and a comeback for everything. She plays Maritza, on the wildly popular Netflix show Orange is the New Black, which has been nominated for 12 Emmy Awards this year. Even though she’s on complete lock-down when it comes to the third season that is currently filming, we chatted with the Colombian-American stunner about the cultural phenomenon that is OITNB, her character, her castmates and the beauty that is binge-watching.
We were supposed to chat yesterday but you were called into set. Was it for Orange is the New Black?
Yes. We’re filming the third season.
Can you tell us anything about it?
No! Absolutely not!
Is there ANYTHING you can tell us that we can look forward? Throw me a bone! I miss it already.
[Laughs.] I think you’re going to just love it even more than the second season. It gets more hilarious as it goes. You wouldn’t think that a prison show would be comedic, but this season takes the cake. It’s funny and sad all at the same time; it’s an intelligent show. You’re going to get what you’ve been seeing, but even better. That was the shittiest answer ever, sorry. That’s all I’ve got. We’re so on lock down, it’s not even funny. We get emails every day saying, ‘You better not be posting or saying anything!’ Even something small and innocent can be a spoiler so now I don’t even take the chance, I just stay quiet. I’m just grateful to be a part of it.
We haven’t seen a flashback for your character Maritza’s story yet. I know you can’t divulge anything, but what do you THINK landed her in prison?
I’ve had my own ideas with her and have tried piecing it together. My idea is that she was a wild child and fell into a bad crowd. But I know that she has a good heart so I think that balances it out. When you’re from the neighbourhood you kind of get stuck in those kinds of situations. I feel like they write [your character] as they get to know you. I think they sort of make your story according to your own personality and what they see in you. Sometimes. Maybe. That’s how I’ve been taking it.
When you started filming the first season, what kind of research did you do to get into character?
I watched a lot of Scared Straight but honestly, I’d watch those shows anyway. The whole prison system has always kind of interested me. What gets people there, what kind of people go in, which people get released over others…I have all these questions. I remember watching something about solitary confinement and now I know it as The SHU. As a kid growing up, I feel like I knew a lot of people who had gone to jail or I visited a lot of friends in jail.
How do you get into character on a daily basis?
The thing with Maritza, I honestly feel like she’s just very much a part of me and I can get into her really quickly especially when you put that uniform on and you’re on set with all these girls who are in prison. I think your imagination gets you there really quickly. I actually get sad! There’s this feeling of being trapped that comes over you. With this job you have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. That’s how I prepare, I just put myself in someone else’s shoes.
Within the show, most of the characters are kind of broken up into their own tribes, is that anything like how the cast dynamics are on set?
Since we’re all so divided into different groups, we’re always shooting with the same people. You tend to form bonds with those people. When we’re all together we take the opportunity to catch up. I feel like I’ve made bonds with a lot of different people. But I do tend to hang out more with the girls that I’m with more on set.
It really seems like everyone has a lot of fun being in character.
It is. It’s a lot of fun. When everyone is on the same page with regards to doing something naughty or bad, you’re all there and you can’t get out. And there’s no jealousy. It’s nice to be on a set where you’re not always thinking ‘hey! She looks better than me!’ Because we all look pretty shitty. So, it’s all good.
When you first auditioned to be on a show about a women’s prison, did you go in with any preconceived notions? Have they changed since then?
I thought it was going to be a lot tougher. I thought I was going to have to be a lot tougher. I think I carried myself a little differently in the first season. I’m a little tougher and a little nastier. But that’s changed. I see everyone differently now that we’re working on a third season. It’s not such a mystery to me. And Martiza isn’t such a mystery. Now I’m starting to feel for a lot of the other characters and I think that happens with people as they watch too.
I feel like a lot of the problems these women have in their lives are caused by men. Is that just me?
Well, you know, men are the root of all evil. [Laughs.] I’m just kidding! I don’t know. I guess that could have some validity to it, but I think there’s more to it than just that. Women kind of tend to—especially if they have a significant other, man or woman—do a lot of crazy things for love. And not just for a significant other, for their children, their mother, their family. You saw with Taystee’s story, how she found this mother figure and how she did anything for her love.
Do you find you have a newfound notoriety now that you’re on a show that is so immensely popular?
Actually, yes! Which is a total surprise. As a person who is just starting out, it’s crazy. All I want to do is work and just develop as an actor. All that other stuff, I wasn’t looking for it or even expecting it, but now that it’s happening…I’ll tell you, I don’t hate it! We depend a lot on the fans. You want to be well liked and you want people to want to watch you. It’s nice to have people like your work. People will come up to me and say ‘I love coming home after work and watching the show,’ or ‘You and your crew are really funny.’ I have a lot of Latina fans that come up to me and say ‘I don’t get to see a lot of Latinas on TV, so it’s really cool to see you there and really representing us.’
Do you watch the show?
I definitely like to watch to see what everyone did because we’re not all on set all the time so we want to see everyone’s work. But of course when I come on I’m like ‘oh god, why!’ I watch for the other performances, but when it comes to my performance, it’s tough to watch and I don’t know if it’s going to get any easier. Of course you criticize yourself the hardest. In the beginning I’d be in an interview and people would ask questions about the show and I’d have no idea what they were talking about! I had to watch it.
Do you binge watch it along with the rest of us?
No, I couldn’t! I absolutely would have if it wasn’t for my boyfriend. He caught me watching it and he got really upset because we were supposed to watch it together. He does not have the time to watch it all in one sitting so if I waited for him I would watch one season over ten months. I had to watch it on the sly, but I re-watched episodes with him until I got really annoyed. I got pretty far on my own. Binge watching is one of my favourite things to do.
What do you think about Netflix releasing a show’s season all at once?
I think it’s really cool. I think that it gives a chance to the actors who aren’t seen as much, to be well liked along with everyone else. Because you get to watch everything all together, you won’t forget about the smaller story lines. No one has the time anymore to wait for something that’s on at the same time once a week. I’m so busy, I get distracted and then I forget about whatever I was watching. I’m happy to be on a series that everyone gets to see all at once. And it’s funny because they watch the whole thing and then get mad because they don’t have anything else to watch. It’s like watching a 13-hour-long movie. There’s no patience nowadays. People want everything right now.
All Photography by Benjo Arwas @ DGReps BenjoArwas.com
Styling by Ali Levine AliLevine.com
Hair: Cooper @ Exclusive Artists MGMT
Makeup: Sonia Lee @ Exclusive Artists MGMT