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Interview: Yael Stone discusses her character on Orange is the New Black and what lies ahead

Amidst filming the upcoming season of the Netflix hit series Orange is the New Black, charming Australian actress Yael Stone (who plays fan favorite Lorna Morello) sweetly took the time to speak with Scene Creek about her character’s shocking development in season two, her experience in theatre, and what lies ahead on the next season.

Scene Creek: Your background is in theatre. I think I can say you’re a well-established theatre actress. How do you use your experience in theatre and translate it to your work on television? Do you get to improvise? Because each self -contained character-based episode is very much like a play.

Yael: I feel very distant from the stage. I miss it. The idea of getting back into it would be so exciting and terrifying at the same time. In terms of how that work plays into my work on Orange is the new Black, I kind of approach it in the same way. I’m looking at what’s going on, what does the other character want, how they are, how did they arrive there, etc. So for me it’s all the same preparation. And then of course there are different technical questions for different mediums. You need to know where the camera will be as opposed to where the live audience will be. There are levels of intimacy you can achieve with a camera and with wonderful sound people, and then on stage there’s this wonderful and completely different thing you can draw on, which is the audience’s energy and response. So in some ways it’s very similar but in some ways it’s completely different.

Scene Creek: Do you yearn to return to the theatre?

Yael: Very much! *Laughs* I don’t really feel like you have to choose one or the other. There’s amazing stuff going on in New York and amazing stuff at home in Australia. You know I might be a little biased but the best stuff comes out of Australia. I’m very keen to do it again but I’m kind of terrified, to be honest. It’s so scary.

Scene Creek: On the show you’ve worked with two well-known actor turned directors, Jodie Foster and Andrew McCarthy. Can you talk about working with them?

Yael: Well we did two episodes with Jodie Foster. The first one I was in very briefly and I got to say, “One of us, one of us, gooble gobble.” So that was funny. That was the only line I got to say in front of Jodie. Then the second episode that she directed was only with Alex and Piper. So unfortunately I haven’t had a lot to do with her. I certainly stood next to her and listened to her conversations a few times and she seemed like a delightful human being.

Scene Creek: Other than your character, who is your favorite character on the show and why?

Yael: Oh no! That’s not fair! I just adore everybody’s work within the show and I don’t know if I could choose. Like the fans of the show my favorite tends to switch. There are people that I get to work with and there are other people who I never get to work with who I so admire. I’m kind of enamored with everybody’s work. It’s crazy good! I still can’t believe I get to be a part of it all!

Scene Creek: Over the span of show, what was your favorite scene to shoot?

Yael: My favorite scene, singular? I really enjoyed learning more about Lorna, her back-story, because that was so rich and wonderful to learn more about this character that I’m so interested in. I feel very loving towards her. Then I had a special time in season two with Uzo doing that little scene in the Valentine’s Day episode where Lorna and Suzanne/Crazy Eyes have a conversation about love. I thought that was so unexpected in a way. Lorna’s been so racist up until this moment. You never see her outside of her white tribe and then she’s revealing her deepest secrets to Suzanne. That was so beautiful that Suzanne took care of Lorna and they understood each other so well in that moment. I love when characters surprise you. People are complicated. We don’t subscribe to one way of being and so I kind of really enjoyed that Lorna was growing with this unexpected friend. That was one of my most treasured scenes.

Scene Creek: Did you know ahead of time what was going to happen with your character’s development?

Yael: I read it along with everybody else. I had no idea! I had a sense that she was slightly unhinged, of course, I definitely did. There was something going on there that wasn’t totally PC. I was completely surprised though.

Scene Creek: This season revealed the shocking truth behind your character’s relationship with Christopher. She crossed a line, to put it mildly. As a well-known actress on a successful show, do you find that fandom has crossed that fine line in today’s paparazzi day and age?

Yael: Umm yeah. I don’t feel like a well-known actress. I feel like someone who is part of a show that a lot of people watch and identify with. So when they talk to me, they kind of think that they’re talking to Lorna really. But the thing is, I’m not Lorna. So that’s new for me. I always respect people and their experience with the show because I know that even when people come up to me and are a little rude or too excited or scary, it’s because they’re so excited about the show and they love the show and the characters. So I hope I’m always receptive and warm.

Scene Creek: Now that you’re a series regular, congratulations!, what can we expect from season three?

Yael: Season three is looking really wonderful. We’re up to episode 6 and we’ve had some really wonderful directors, some old directors, some new directors. There’s wonderful stuff happening. I’m really excited. I can’t tell you anything specific, but I’ve definitely had some fun recently. What’s great about the show is there are so many story lines so the writers have so much to play with. It’s a carnival of humans. Each episode is a crazy cocktail.

We’ll drink to that! Seasons one and two of Orange is the New Black are now streaming on Netflix Canada.

Leora Heilbronn

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto based film aficionado who has a weakness for musicals and violent action flicks. She can often be spotted reading a wide range of literature or listening to show tunes.