‘Orange Is the New Black’ Actor Selenis Leyva’s Father Epitomizes the American Dream

Orange Is the New Black released it’s fifth season to Netflix on June 9th for binging consumption. Selenis Leyva continues her role as Gloria Mendoza, former leader and non-stop mother-figure to Spanish Harlem, the Latina/Hispanic group at Litchfield Penitentiary. During an interview with Shoboy and Nina from 92.3 AMP Radio, Leyva discussed the strong parental role her father had on her life.

“I have a very strong, giving, forgiving father who came from Cuba. He came to the United States in ’68,” says Leyva, whose father, like many people in Cuba, wished to escape the country’s oppressive government. Previously failed attempts lead to nearly two years in prison.

selenis leyva Orange Is the New Black Actor Selenis Leyvas Father Epitomizes the American Dream

Selenis Leyvas (WBMP)

See Also: Orange Is the New Black’s Selenis Leyva: From Negative To Positive (and a little sweat in between) [Full Interview]

“It was really hard. It wasn’t easy. Prison in Cuba is not Litchfield,” says Leyva. “He had to go through a lot. He came to this country, worked so hard, worked all kinds of jobs, saved his money, started his own business — a meat market in the Bronx — and then from that a supermarket, and then a restaurant, and then he bought buildings. My father worked so hard. It just goes to show you immigrants do come to this country, they work hard, they provide, and they are important and crucial to the development of this country.”

Leyva’s parents still reside in the Bronx, where her hard work is currently on display: Leyva was inducted as part of the 20th class to the Bronx Walk of Fame at the Grand Concourse on May 21st, an honor accompanied with the renaming of a street.

“I’m just going to be like, ‘Do you want to go to my street?’ Can we meet at the corner of Selenis Leyva and Prince Royce?” jokes Leyva about her Father’s Day plans. “For me that day was so special because it was about my parents, all their sacrifices, and then for them to see me in this place in my life is pretty amazing.”

Season 5 of Orange Is the New Black is available to stream on Netflix now.

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