SPOILER ALERT: ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK SEASON 4 SPOILERS AHEAD
We first had Emma Myles on our radar when we met at the Kiehls Pride Event. We were immediately clamoring at the chance to get to know more about just who the Orange Is the New Black star is. At a Wednesday brunch at one of her favorite spots, The Farm on Adderley, we got to talking about fashion, life, the perils of today's world, and that little Netflix show she's on. The big question on our minds was how she felt about [SPOILER ALERT] Poussey's tragic death, which she opened up to tell us, "I cried, I cried hysterically and I called Samira [Wiley]."
The funny thing about fate is Myles almost didn't even stay in New York City to make it to auditions for Orange Is the New Black. "It was 2012, I went through a fire and got displaced from my house, I wasn't getting sent out by my agent or going on auditions and I felt like New York was expelling me! I bought a one-way plane ticket back to California. The month before I was supposed to leave, I started to get cold feet, and I have so much here and it’s a bad idea. I said to myself ‘Alright, New York, I want to stay, but I need a good reason to stay!,’ and magically I started to see more auditions. The day that I was going to tell my boss I was moving to California - as I was walking up the stairs - my agent called me to let me know that I booked Orange,” Myles told us.
Having no idea that it would become the phenomena it would be when it started, the cast has become one tight-knit family. “Who is on the show? I'm friends with them all,” Myles told us. With the cast being so close, it was hard for Myles not to spoil all the new characters this season. “Oh God!,” she exclaimed. "The fact that there were like 85 new characters and we couldn't put any of them on our Instagram was torture!" When asked who she'd play out of the rest of the cast if she could choose, she said, "I normally say Black Cindy, but I'm really feeling Frieda these days."
Adding another dimension to the show is the real life conversations that get brought up talking about the current broken prison system. "Anytime conversation happens, it’s a good thing,” she said. “People don't really talk about the prison system, you put them away. Since there is a show that is very popular that is about the prison system, it makes people look at it and how flawed it is and a lot of things that we need to change." Staying on that topic, she told us people come up to her saying that the show changed their lives, especially in the LGBT community. Myles went on to say, "I did the pride float this year; it was really hot. The most popular cast member on the float was Samira [Wiley – Poussey]. People were literally screaming for her; she's like Justin Bieber! People were crying, throwing themselves at her, and she's laughing and it’s all out of love!”
In this edition of 21 Questions we got to know the real Emma Myles outside of the prison. Quite the green thumb, we were impressed with her knowledge on all things plant based - just don't get her started on succulents. Myles didn't hold back, revealing everything from her guilty pleasure, and words of advice we can always get down for.
I’m a Cancer.
Favorite TV Show to binge?
I bake and I have a garden on my roof. I have a lot of "Suzie Homemaker" skills that I learned from my mom. I fought it for so long and I was like, “Okay, I guess I'll give in.”
What’s the last thing you made from your garden?
I grow tomatoes on my roof and a lot of basil. I made homemade pesto last night.
Ever cook for your cast?
I make these peanut butter chocolate cookies for everybody in the cast since the first season and they fiend for it, yelling, "THE COOKIES ARE HERE!"
Do you ever think you'll go into stand-up?
People ask me that a lot. I think I can do it in a setting like this, but if I have the pressure of being on stage, I'm like, "Well, what do I talk about?" I think I could figure it out, but I'm not cool like that and I'd rather cry on screen.
How does it feel to have set up a real life OINTB marriage? [Editors Note: She set up Lea DeLaria who plays Big Boo with her BFF.]
I feel like I did a mitzvah! As they say in New York!
What song is stuck in your head?
I was listening to Rumors by Fleetwood Mac right before I got here, so "Gold Dust Woman" is up there right now.
Any role you'd like to do next?
I'd like to do a full drama, because that's where my strengths lie, and it’s funny that I ended up on a show where I'm ultimately the comedic relief. Would love to do a drama soon, very soon!
Law & Order SVU actor you liked working with best?
It's got to be Chris Meloni. I never worked with Mariska, sadly. I worked with both Chris and Ice-T, who were both lovely, but I have a deep obsession with Chris Meloni.
Is it hard to say racist things on the show?
Yes. It’s our job so we have to do it, but I was scared people were going to be very upset about it. Julie [Lake] and I were like, "Why are we here?!" [In reference to the White People's Club on OITNB]. You notice we disappeared from the group, we're just joiners who are like, "Are there drugs there, great!" I've said racist things to Kimiko [Glenn – Brook Soso], that was really tough. Even the idea of cutting her hair was crazy to me. I said, "That's over the line, that's not cool!" I gave her the best haircut! Kimiko is also one of my dearest friends, too!
My hidden talent isn't so hidden anymore! I make dolphin noises. Once Jenji [Kohan] found out, she put it into the script.
Jeans and a t-shirt. I have to say, the jeans I'm wearing now, which are from Zara, I can sleep in them. They are really soft cotton. I was a competitive gymnast when I was younger, so it’s hard to find jeans that fit both your waist and your legs that are slightly bigger than they should be, so Zara all the way!
Coolest designer you've ever met?
Betsey Johnson by far; she's amazing!
Craziest fashion experience you've ever seen?
I mean that Betsey Johnson show [for SS16] was insane. Besides that, I would say "A Night of a Thousand Stevies" is fun to see what everybody is wearing, even if it’s not!
The Farm, Sycamore, which is a bar and has a flower shop in the front. I like Brooklyn Star, which is one of the only places I'll go in Williamsburg.
Best place to find a taco on the East Coast?
It’s not easy to find in NYC. Yuca Bar, I almost did the interview there! Great tacos, Taco Tuesday, great happy hour!
Most attractive feature on a man?
First date advice for women?
Words to live by?
"How you gonna win when you ain't right within.” [laughs] Lauryn Hill.
Follow Emma Myles on Instagram and Twitter, and watch her on Orange is The New Black on Netflix.
Interview by Nisim Frank
Photographs by Gwen Leogrande
Hair & Make Up by Neal Pittman