Windy City Times: Do viewers ever confuse you with your character on TV?
Dascha Polanco: They think I am my character and call me by her name. They don’t even know my real name.
Kate Mulgrew: Yes, lots of times. I get “Red” or “Captain Janeway” all the time. Make up your mind!
Taylor Schilling: I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think they confuse me with my character. When they say “Piper,” I don’t think that they are concerned I just busted out of the prison gate.
In Season 6, three of the show’s central characters, Piper (Taylor Schilling), Red (Kate Mulgrew) and Daya (Dascha Polanco), encounter betrayal, agony and abuse at the hands of the state and each other.
The following is an edited transcript from an interview with the three actors.
Q: When the show began, I know many were excited to see representation of gender-specific incarceration and that the cast became involved in discussions about prison reform. The story’s changed quite a bit since Season 1. Do you still consider yourselves artist-activists?
Kate Mulgrew: Well, I’m a political activist, as is Taylor Schilling. On the outside, we do our thing, as we must do in these times.
Q: This season saw drug addiction, betrayal, gang fights — as artists, how do you feel about tackling such dark material in what many would call a dark period of time?
Taylor Schilling: It’s a question I am really grappling with. It’s a very different world we’re living in than when this show started.