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Orange Is the New Black’s Selenis Leyva: From Negative To Positive (and a little sweat in between)

Selenis Leyva, aka Gloria Mendoza from the hit Netflix show Orange Is The New Black, has given us fans some insight on what’s it like to be on set while filming the show. Selenis sat down with Shoboy and Nina with her makeup done and looking so refreshed, the complete opposite of her character on the show, but she admits that it takes the same amount of time to glam down as it does to glam up.

“If you’re tired and you have a couple of bags, they are going to highlights those bags,” Selenis says. “Any little thing that is a flaw, they will highlight it.” She even jokes that a pimple of her face will become a character, just to make it look as real as possible.

Selenis also got personal, which was new for us being that her life story is not very out in the open. She’s from the Bronx, NY, where her family still resides and where an actual street is named after her, but her father’s story about escaping Cuba is what really gave Selenis that push to become the person she is today. He served time for trying to escape Cuba once before, but when he came to the United States, he did whatever he could to provide for his family from working multiple jobs, saving his money, and opening his own business from a meat market in the Bronx to restaurants, to buildings. “My father worked so hard and it goes to show you that immigrants do come to this country,” she told Shoboy and Nina, “and they work hard and they provide and they are important and crucial to the development of this country,” said Selenis.

selenis leyva Orange Is the New Blacks Selenis Leyva: From Negative To Positive (and a little sweat in between)

Selenis Leyvas (WBMP)

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

When it came to getting her role on OITNB, Selenis didn’t think her character would make it through the show after the first season. She was told that her character would have one line, but it actually has grown and become more of the spotlight of the show. She admits at the time of the casting, she had given up on acting because she realized she could no longer provide for her child like she wanted to. But then things started to change and she was included in more episodes of the show, even a part of their promotions like her picture on the side of a bus. Season 2 is when the show offered her a contract. This was huge for Selenis, because she remembers at the time she had a negative bank account and prayed for a sign to guide her in the right direction.

Being in the spotlight has brought Selenis to many red carpets events, but the first one she ever went to, the Emmy’s, is one she will never forget. She was in the car with her co-star Dacha Polanco, Daya from OITNB, and they started sweating through their dresses in places they didn’t even know they could! As they were walking the red carpet, they met actress Sarah Paulson from American Horror Story, and fan-girled out. But Sarah was an even bigger fan of theirs! “She stops her interview, runs over to us and is like fanning out over us and we were like ‘uh I think she’s got us confused. Does she think we’re America Ferrera and Salma Hayek?'” With all that fan-girling going on, Sarah turns to them and says, “Girls, I’m sweating in places I don’t even want to talk about.”

Aside from OITNB, Selenis is part of the new Spiderman movie Spiderman: Homecoming where her character is actually a man in the comics. The movie comes out July 7th.

Without giving anything away, Selenis has one thing to say about season 6 of OITNB which they will start shooting this summer, “What I can tell you is that the consequences are going to be real. It’s a scary time. It’s getting really dark.”


–Kristen Accardi/Shoboy in the Morning

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