Filming Season 4 of the Netflix original series, “Orange is the New Black” was a bit of a blur for Julie Lake. The beautiful actress—who plays the role of the lovable Angie Rice on the show, was preparing to get married during filming and had found herself traveling back and forth from L.A. to New York.
The show that began as a comedic struggle for Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) to adjust to prison life has now evolved into an emotional dichotomy. The serious exploration of issues like racial tension, death and corporate greed have left us no doubt that Jenji Kohan’s series has finally hit its stride.
Although Rice’s personal story isn’t touched upon too deeply this season, Lake—much like everyone involved, deserves credit for giving viewers the series’ best one to date.
I recently spoke with Julie Lake about the new season of “Orange is the New Black” and more in this exclusive interview.
Warning: If you haven’t watched Season 4, this interview contains spoilers.
How would you describe this season of “Orange is the New Black” and Angie’s transition after the prison became a privately owned facility?
We all felt at the end of shooting that this was a heartbreaking season. Angie is dealing with it the same way she always has—by finding humor, fun and more trouble to get into to keep things interesting for her. In a way, she’s a class clown who deals with things through humor. We’ll see what happens in Season Five when the s#it really hits the fan how she’s going to cope!
The writing on the show has really developed into something special over these four seasons. What do you think makes it so special?
The great thing about the writers is that they’re given a huge amount of freedom. Sometimes on a network show the executives might poke their heads in and ask to have things changed. The beauty of this show is that no one is telling the writers what to do. They’re just going. Sometimes we’ll even get the scripts at the last minute and they’re still changing things up and doing re-writes. These writers are really unleashed and are just going for it and as a result, they’re making incredible art.
There’s a lot of racial tension within Litchfield this season. Were there any reservations with having to deal with such a sensitive topic?
I remember Emma [Myles] and I were nervous at first about being placed into a particular group and saying racist things. I want people to love Angie and was a little worried about what people might think. But the fans have really seen it for what it is. It’s been very powerful and I’m happy with how everything turned out.
When a main character dies on a series, there’s always a roller coaster ride of emotion for the audience. What was the feeling like on set filming that episode?
I remember reading the script and was like, “Wait…She dies? Is this real? Are they going to bring her back?” I really couldn’t believe it was actually happening. It was a sad day when we shot that episode. Everyone loves Samira [Wiley]. She’s part of the heart and soul of the show. It was a very emotional day and I remember everyone was upset. It was like we had just lost our friend.
At the end of Season Four, a major event occurs and things are about to become extremely violent. What do you think is going through Angle’s mind at the end of that episode?
You know, I don’t think it’s sunk in for her yet. Life outside of the prison was so real and dark and hard for her. Now she’s here in this place where she has friends so to her, it’s still fun.
Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?
I have been doing a lot of writing and creating. I’ve written a pilot with some friends from my sketch comedy troupe that we’re in the process of producing. Through pitching, we’ve actually begun work on another project, and are developing that into a pilot as well. I’m also in the middle of filming a series with my friend, Shirin Najafi, called “Mental”. We’ve filmed four episodes so far and have two more to go. I’m also acting and directing a web series two of my other friends wrote called “Tinderellas”. I’ve got a lot going on right now and am super busy, but it’s really been fun. It’s an exciting time and I have a lot to look forward to.