0 Love It
Save it

Time Out meets: Uzo Aduba and Ruby Rose of Orange is the New Black

Time Out Seoul's exclusive interview with Uzo Aduba and Ruby Rose of the Netflix original series, Orange is the new black.

Park Jung Woo

Netflix Korea recently held its official launch party here in Seoul and we were able to sit down with two actresses from the Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black. Uzo Aduba, who plays Suzanne "Crazy Eyes," and Ruby Rose, who plays the sexy Stella Carlin, talk about the show, what it's like to tell new narratives [in Asia] and what they’ve learned from their characters. 

How long have you been here now? Have you done anything special so far?

Uzo Two days? I've gone to the palace and the DMZ and [we've had] Korean BBQ. Very fun.

Ruby Do not ask me how our manager managed to fit in so much.

You must be crazy tired.

Ruby Everyone’s energy is so uplifting when you wake up in the morning and it's so much jetlag, but you start meeting people and you forget about it.

How do you think you would describe the show to someone who’s never watched it before?

Uzo It’s a bit of a fish-out-of-water story. It’s about a woman who comes from a background of privilege and initially thinks that she has no similarities with any of these people who are incarcerated. But as she journeys on, she realizes she has a lot in common with them. I would also describe the story [as being one] that shows people [as] being [about] more than just their crime.

Advertising

And how do you think you would describe your characters to someone who's never seen it before?

Ruby I actually think that one of the struggles I had was that we had too many similarities. Aesthetically, I fit the mold. We kept a lot of my tattoos. My hair was already like that when I got the part. And she’s gay and she's gender fluid so my challenge was how do I find enough differences so people don’t just say, “Oh, she’s just playing herself.” And of course, she ended up being Australian, which I think they choose because it lent itself to a lot of funny jokes. But I had to find the differences to [be able] to separate Stella and Ruby so [that] it wasn’t just like Ruby Rose is in Orange is the New Black. I've found the difference is—I’ve never pursued anyone that was already in a relationship. It's not something I would do. Stella has a lot more confidence to really pick someone and just go for it. There are a lot of things that Stella does that I wouldn’t do. For instance, standing completely naked and having conversations with people is a confidence that Stella really has. I’ve never winked at someone before and yet it was what made it to the trailer.  It was fun finding those differences.

What do you think you have in common with your individual characters?

Ruby I actually think that one of the struggles I had was that we had too many similarities. Aesthetically, I fit the mold. We kept a lot of my tattoos. My hair was already like that when I got the part. And she’s gay and she's gender fluid so my challenge was how do I find enough differences so people don’t just say, “Oh, she’s just playing herself.” And of course, she ended up being Australian, which I think they choose because it lent itself to a lot of funny jokes. But I had to find the differences to [be able] to separate Stella and Ruby so [that] it wasn’t just like Ruby Rose is in Orange is the New Black. I've found the difference is—I’ve never pursued anyone that was already in a relationship. It's not something I would do. Stella has a lot more confidence to really pick someone and just go for it. There are a lot of things that Stella does that I wouldn’t do. For instance, standing completely naked and having conversations with people is a confidence that Stella really has. I’ve never winked at someone before and yet it was what made it to the trailer.  It was fun finding those differences.

Was it a scripted wink or was it just something that came?

It was something that came.

Advertising

And Uzo, any similarities?

Uzo Similarities to Suzanne? I run around peeing on the floor. [Laughs] I'm just kidding. 

Ruby Yeah! Why did you do that last night! C’mon I had just gone to bed!

Uzo Could you imagine? [Laughs] I know, for sure, that I have loved as deeply as Suzanne has before. I have felt that. I know the cost of it so I know that of her.

The peeing wasn’t real though, was it?

Uzo [Laughs] No, no! Could you imagine?

What has the response to the show here in Asia been like?

Uzo You know, it’s funny because we were here [in Asia] when we launched Netflix Japan last year. It was like Netflix when it first came out in America. People were like, “What’s a Netflix?” And then to come back a year later has been very interesting because people have watched the show, obviously. It's been wonderful to have that reception. And what I love about the show and the fact that Netflix is a global entity and a show like Orange is the New Black [is] it’s [all] steeped in Americana, the American prison system and most often highlighted as American issues. No matter what country we’re in, people are still relating to their stories which speaks more about their humanity than the subject matter itself.

Advertising

Have you recognized much traveling around in Asia? Any memorable fans?

Ruby Yeah, I would say Asian fans are my favorite fans because they’re so passionate and they get so genuinely excited that you can’t help but feel very blessed. At the beginning, you kind of feel a little bit confused. Like actually, I'm just a nerd. I'm not that cool. You feel so honored that they’ve taken the time to get to know you and they might break down in tears or bring your gifts. Wow, doing the job I love brings you joy? I feel like I should be bringing you a gift. So it’s really exciting.

Uzo I think the other day at the palace, we were just walking around and there were people like [gasps]. And we’re just people touring around Seoul and [I'm surprised because] my brain thinks Netflix belongs to the States. And it’s like oh no, people watch our show. It’s a gratitude more than anything. I can't say anything other than thank you.

Do you ever feel any fears or insecurities representing these narratives to the rest of the world? For instance, many Koreans may never have met a black lesbian woman. And your character might be the first narrative they hear. How do you feel about telling that story to someone that might never have encountered it before?

Uzo Our show's creator, Jenji Kohan, is very serious about the business of telling these stories authentically and humanizing them as much as possible. You could sit down with her right now and she could say the same thing, you know? And probably more eloquently, because she's a much better writer than me. I think that's her passion and it's not in a social activist sort of way, either. Because that's embedded in the material itself in that way—there's a trust that comes naturally in the playing of the parts and the characters. For myself, specifically in the acting of it, I would be lying if I said that I was taking into account a cultural sensitivity but I am aware of the responsibility that comes with the subject of mental illness, the subject of race and the subject of sexual orientation with Suzanne and not wanting to be anything other than truthful about it because I know it's something we haven't seen. But I also don't want that to infect the playing of it. Just to be aware that these are true things and we haven't seen these things before but at the same time, giving yourself permission to let it go when you're actually in the work. [And I can do that] because the responsibility is not mine to understand that story. Those are stories that have existed for decades past. I place the burden back on someone else to honorably take these stories. It's not the burden of the people—they've been living forever. The burden's on you to find the compassion.

Ruby I think what's special about Netflix is that you get to choose what you watch and when you watch it. And that's what has allowed Netflix to go into these uncharted territories. The reason I don't have a fear about Netflix going to different countries is because we have literally watched such progression on all these issues happen in America, in Australia and it's only had a positive impact. I imagine it'll be the same, God willing, everywhere that people get the opportunity to watch it. Having said that, taking in religion and tradition and everything else, if it does make someone uncomfortable, they have the option not to watch. [But]because of the brilliant way it's written... I don't see a black character, a lesbian character... I see everybody as the same. Once you start to learn the back stories and once you start to see them as humans, you start to forget who's gay and who's bi and even people in parts of America, where they might be more homophobic or racist... they'll still be huge fans of the show. It's almost like they're forgetting there are people in the show who are gay and black... It's like, “I hate gay people, but I love this show.” You realize you're watching a lot of people that you say you don't like. I like how it does that. It's not some tacky, tantalizing, lesbian drama. It's something so much larger than that and I think that's why it'll hopefully translate here like it has in other places.

Uzo There's something about prison becoming a great equalizer, which is odd. I think prison evens the playing field and then you're free to see their stories. 

Advertising

What do your individual roles teach you?

Uzo Suzanne reaffirms that you are enough. There's no need to put another thing on. Just go out and do you and she reminds me, though it's hard, to love again. Here's somebody we've never seen win at this and she dares to try again. I can't say that I've ever done. Part of loving is getting hurt sometimes but it's okay. Just go back in the pool. Dare to love again.

Ruby I guess the one thing that Stella probably taught me was that you can't chase someone's love. She reminded me of a 16-year old version of myself. You can't force people to like you. You can't force people to have the same feelings as you have. This happens at the time that Stella was ready to be released on a Tuesday and she was then set up. Basically, it taught me—you can think one thing is going to be happen and someone else can jeopardize your freedom and it's not fair. She taught me that injustice happens everywhere.

Any teasers for season four? (For readers who might not have seen it yet.)

Uzo In the previous seasons, you've been seeing a lot of individual tribes and in this season, you start to question if those tribes can really come together.

Ruby I don't even know if I'm in that season or not. [Laughs]

Comments

0 comments