We sent Entertainment Editor Riley to Litchfield Penitentiary to catch up with everybody’s favourite inmate, Julie Lake, who plays lovable ‘meth-head’ Angie Rice.
The show on the tip of everyone’s tongues right now is undoubtedly the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, which this year released a third season. OITNB has taken the world by storm; proving that online series are certainly on the rise and a substantial threat for their television counterparts. Since the show was first released on Netflix in July 2013, it has accumulated an extensive fanbase; one which only continues to increase.
The series has racked up dozens of awards and stands alone as the most anticipated and celebrated online show. It’s a very exciting time in Julie Lake’s young career, being part of the hype surrounding one of the biggest shows in the world, so we simply had to find out how it all began for her.
“I had done a ton of theatre in NYC with one of the writers on the show, and he told me that a role was opening up and helped me submit a tape to the casting director. I was cast off the tape. I originally thought it would just be one episode. It is crazy that so far it has turned into 4 seasons on a hit show.”
Lake quit her day job as a secretary to pursue a full time career in acting and, following meeting her fiancé after the second season, her life has significantly changed in a short space of time. Without the show, Lake believes that she wouldn’t have had the confidence to be in the right place to meet the love of her life, so in a way prison has liberated her, well, metaphorically at least.
One of the most amazing attributes of the show is surely its huge diversity in the cast that she works with; ranging greatly (and proudly) in all respects from race, religion and sexuality. The show is a kaleidoscope of people from all walks of life and offers an accurate and unbiased view of society, oftentimes not found in many other shows.
“I think it is pretty clear from this show that viewers love seeing all different types of people on television. I actually think entertainment in this country is changing a lot, partially because of the success of this show. I know there was a huge push for diverse casting the pilot season.”
While all characters in the show represent a different aspect of society and the discrimination that oftentimes comes hand-in-hand, none speak out for a more accepting future than does transgender leading-lady Laverne Cox, whose voice has resonated with audiences worldwide.
“I have learned so much about the Trans community since the show came out,” says Lake. “I feel like that just was not something people were talking about before Orange. My heart goes out to anyone who has had to hide who he or she is, and I hope that shows like Orange have inspired people to come out and helped others to have acceptance and compassion for Trans people.”
According to Lake, Cox’s character is “super important” in fighting for equality. As for Lake’s own character, Angie Rice is an impressionable former “meth head” who spends most of her time in the laundry room.
“The best thing [about playing Rice] is just getting to be goofy and silly and make my friends laugh on set. The worst is looking like a hideous monster and having people think that is how I actually look. People rarely recognize me from the show because I look so different in real life. Even my cast mates, at the second season premiere and the SAG awards, were doing double takes trying to figure out who I was.”
There’s a lot of backstory we have yet to discover about Rice; slowly uncovering the stories of inmates before their sentencing is one of the cleverest aspects of OITNB. Lake admits to creating her own history for Angie Rice, while she waits for the writers to develop her character, but she wouldn’t tell us too much, claiming that it was her little secret. She does, however, think her back story is extremely dark and the goofiness of the character lends to her dealing with a past trauma.
If, while watching the show, you are alone at home alone, watching Netflix with your cat, you may notice that Litchfield prison is a place of love and romance – well, romance may be pushing the envelope a bit but the love is still there. And with Angie Rice lacking a special someone in her life, we quizzed Lake about if she thinks her character would be compatible with any of the others.
“Probably Lorna. I think Angie yearns for lots of love and attention because it is something she has never had before. I feel like Lorna’s intensity would make Angie feel super secure and happy. But that said, Lorna would never go for Angie.”
She then added: “I think Angie is pretty much screwed in the romance department until she gets her teeth fixed.”
Like every show we feel ourselves growing addicted to, we bond with the characters on an emotional level and more than anything else we want the cast to be just as close to each other off-screen as they are on-screen. Well, rest assured, Motley can put your worries to bed, as Lake admits that she loves the whole cast and that she is close friends with all the girls she shoots with regularly – Emma Myles, Kimiko Glenn, Taryn Manning and Abby Savage.
“I am also tight with Eden Malyn who plays Sikowitz – we randomly took acting class together in LA at Lesly Kahn. We all might be going hiking together tomorrow.” OITNB fans can now sleep easy.
When Lake isn’t spending time with her castmates, she’s planning her wedding and her “epic honeymoon in Argentina.” So if you are a fan from Argentina, Lake asks you throw some location tips her way. Wedding planning and filming aside, you could typically see Lake in the Columbia University Library (which she’s always sneaking into) and if you’re looking to run into the star she told Motley that you can find her and the other castmates together in restaurants that surround the studio where they shoot in Queens.
She can also confirm that after wrapping up shooting for season three right before Thanksgiving, the cast dived right into filming season four in June of this year. Lake also talked about how a lot of the scripts come to them with little time to spare, explaining how “the Orange sets runs pretty last minute. For episode two, we got the script forty-eight hours before we started shooting. But I would say we usually get it about a week in advance.”
Before we let the mischievous meth-head go (her character, obviously, in real life she is far too pretty to be a meth-head) we explained to her that the season three finale was met with a certain backlash due to its anticlimactic ending.
“I actually have 4 more episodes to watch, so I cannot speak to the finale yet. I have been busy – do not judge! Also, it is hard for me to watch myself. I think because it makes me uncomfortable, so I procrastinate watching it a bit.”
The season ended on a heart-warming note, seeing the inmates enjoying precious freedom in the neighbouring lake, which apparently was great fun to shoot.
“The lake scene was an absolute blast to film. We played marco polo for like 40 minutes and I was laughing so hard I could not breathe. I felt like a kid again.”
Orange is the New Black Seasons 1 – 3 can be streamed on Netflix now. Highly addictive. May result in emotional breakdowns.