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Why ‘Orange is the New Black’ Owes Everything to Its Fans

Why 'Orange is the New Black' Owes Everything to Its Fans

READ MORE: Jenji Kohan and the ‘Orange is the New Black’ Cast on Season 3, Emmy Drama and Body Positivity

Just before fans went into a binge-watching frenzy over the early release of Season 3, the cast of Netflix’s Emmy-winning “Orange is the New Black” walked the carpet Thursday afternoon at the inaugural OrangeCon, a fan event held at the Skylight Clarkson Sq center in New York City.

The usual cast of characters from Jenji Kohan’s female-powered hit were in attendance, including Laura Prepon, Taylor Schilling and Uzo Aduba, among many others. The ensemble was also joined by Piper Kerman, the author of the eponymous book on which the show is based, as well as social media stars such as Alex from Target and Marnie the Dog. The cast interacted with an army of fans at this invitation-only event, focusing all of their attention on those who have helped “OITNB” became such a worldwide success story.

Vicky Jeudy, who plays former track athlete Janae Wilson, summed up the theme of the event best, stating, “If it wasn’t for the fans, we wouldn’t be where we are now. It’s all about the fans, and I’m so excited for tonight because it’s dedicated to the fans.” 

Taylor Schilling seemed in awe over how the fan base of “Orange” has grown and changed since its first season. “I think that they’re continuing to get more and more passionate as they spend more time with us on the show,” she explained to Indiewire with excitement. 

While conventions of this size are usually reserved for comic book films and other genre-related content, the stories the cast shared of their unforgettable fan experiences proved why such an event was needed for an ensemble comedy-drama like this one. 

Lea DeLaria, who has become a fan favorite playing the sarcastic Big Boo, recalled one particular interaction that happened only two days after the premiere of Season 1. “The show just started airing. I walked onto Knickerbocker Street and I walked by the Ace Hardware that’s right on the corner of my block,” she recalled. “The woman who works in Ace Hardware came running out, screaming, ‘Big Boo, sign my screwdriver!’ She brought me an orange screwdriver and I signed the screwdriver for her.” As fans are well aware, Big Boo’s screwdriver isn’t exactly used for hardware purposes. 

Kate Mulgrew, meanwhile, laughed about some of the funny things she’s heard from fans in regards to her lovable Red. “They always want to say, ‘I didn’t know you weren’t really Russian! I can’t believe that you’re not Russian!'”

Others have found their experiences to be more emotional, and in some cases even life changing. Samira Wiley, whose charismatic Poussey Washington really broke out last season, recently went to the São Paulo Pride Parade in Brazil with other cast members and felt truly humbled by the experience. “There were 4 million people there. It was a sea of people and they all had on orange shirts with our faces on them and signs,” Wiley warmly recalled. “To be truly honest, I was so happy that I had on sunglasses that day because I got emotional. To see that this show and somehow by proxy, us, are able to receive this kind of love that’s so real from people that we don’t even know — I got really emotional.”

Laverne Cox also shared impactful experiences with fans, especially those in the LGBTQ community. “I got a letter from a guy named Shane, who’s 18 years old now. He’s a theater major at Loyola and he was contemplating suicide before he saw me on television. He didn’t think he could have a career as an actor as a trans-person.” She proudly continued, “Now he’s a trans man and pursuing that in school, and he has the will to live.”

OrangeCon included interactive experiences for fans, including a panel and special screening of the first episode of Season 3. The early release of Season 3 was officially announced at OrangeCon as well.

The third season of “OITNB” is now streaming exclusively on Netflix. 
READ MORE: ‘Orange is the New Black’ to Compete as Drama at 2015 Emmys; TV Academy Denies Netflix Petition

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