With only two months left before the big return of “Orange is the New Black,” there’s so much to discuss! And while everyone wants the big Dayanara (Dascha Polanco) cliffhanger resolved, there’s a lot coming up from the rest of the cast. I caught up with Daniella de Jesus who gave us an update on her character Zirconia who we hope we’ll see a lot more of this season. Since the Dominicans took over with such power last year, there’s not doubt things are still going to be mighty intense at Litchfield Prison.
“I have so much fun playing Zirconia,” de Jesus said. “She's the kind of character I dream of playing- strong, funny, capable, she's not afraid to be ugly, she's allowed to be ugly--which so rare for female characters, especially Latina characters. And I love working with the other people on the show, they're such a kind and warm collection of people. Despite playing in what can be a really dark environment, we manage to find a lot of lightness and joy. I've made some really great friends on the show.”
Although she can’t tell anyone much about her character’s upcoming storyline without losing her job, she gave us a tiny insight into what we can expect to see from her.
“In season 4, it's revealed that Zirconia's mother was murdered by her boyfriend, but that's all I know about her life before or outside of prison.? I think she's experienced a lot of violence and abuse, as evidenced by the 1.5 inch scar on her face. [This season] I'd love to see someone come visit Zirconia. I really want to know if there's anyone waiting for her, visiting her, calling her, sending letters. I'd also like to see some softness from her, what makes her vulnerable?”
Before the shows June 9th premiere, you can see de Jesus in a new play, "The Women of Padilla" by Tony Meneses at Two River Theater in New Jersey.
“It's about 8 sister-in-laws who are trying to maintain their relationships and faith and hope while their husbands are away at war. It's a gorgeous, almost lyrical play about grief and how people find light in spite of that. And the cast is made up of EIGHT Latina actresses, which is amazing! When do you get to see that?”
One thing you may not know about de Jesus is how passionate she is about writing poetry. She writes about various topics and although she hasn’t written anything about her character yet, she came up with something fun just for us.
“I tend to write a lot about Afro-Latinx history and my family. Genetic-traumatic memory, which is the idea that people are carrying the traumatic experiences of their ancestors with them and that their bodies or subconscious retain these memories, is a big theme in my writing lately.”
“I haven't written any poetry about/for Zirconia but I do keep a journal for her with doodles and memories. Here's a haiku:
‘Spanish Harlem, Zirconia's bunk, late at night’
Chewing a spork sharp,
Machiavellian she, spits
Plastic from gold teeth, smiles.