A new season of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black premieres June 17, and to get Season 4 deets, we checked in with actress Laura Gómez, who plays inmate Blanca Flores. “There’s going to be so much talk about this season,” the actress shares. “It’s really special.” We chatted about what’s new for Litchfield, the dish on Blanca and we got the lowdown on her character’s signature look.
Channel Guide Magazine: Laura, is this the season we’re finally going to get Blanca’s backstory?
Laura Gómez: You know there’s a real season where we’re definitely going to see more of Blanca. I can’t say specifics. I can tell you that even within the walls of Litchfield, we’re going to see another side of this odd character. That’s as much as I can say in the most cryptic way.
CG: Blanca is unintentionally comical because she’s so strange; how is it for you as an actor to finally get to explore a darker realm?
LG: It’s lovely! I love this character because of all the contrasts that it has … She’s a walking contradiction, and I love that about her … I think any actor would appreciate those types of opportunities where you get to play with it, because that’s human nature. The contradiction in a personality is kind of human nature.
Being a comic relief without really being funny … I mean it’s not like a “ha-ha funny” character, her being a funny character comes from her oddness. And I like that because it’s what I’ve discovered throughout — I think together with the audience — there’s been a growth with Blanca’s character. It’s that what you see is not always what you get with this character, and I love that.
CG: Even within her own group, Blanca is very observant and watches almost like an outsider. As we learn about her this season, what are we going to learn about her introversion?
LG: I think that’s just her nature. I think that she’s wiser than she seems, and that’s what I mean by what you see is not always what you get.
I think she’s wiser than many. She’s just odd — in the sense that she’s not social. What we are discovering is a more human side of Blanca. Even though she still has her individualism— in a way — she is a little more connected with her tribe.
CG: This season, what will we learn more about the relationship between Blanca and Diablo?
LG: [Laughs] Let’s just say that Diablo is mentioned and we’re going to find out something relevant. Something interesting about that duo.
CG: Does it surprise you that of all of the relationships we’ve seen in Litchfield that Blanca and Diablo seem the most normal?
LG: Yes. I always say that! I always say it’s kind of the healthiest relationship among that group because it kind of works for the both of them and there seems to be a general love. As odd as the two of them are.
Whenever Blanca has mentioned Diablo, there’s always something tender about the dynamic and I also feel it brings a slightly softer side of her. So I agree with you.
CG: Tell me about Blanca’s look … How in the heck did those eyebrows happen?
LG: The big hair came from Angel De Angelis who is head of the hair department. It was like, Okay, she’s crazy and of course I have this curly hair so let’s make it bigger. I never knew I had so much hair!
The funny thing is that the eyebrows were never described in the script. It was kind of a funny joke coming from the fact that my real eyebrows are actually the opposite of Blanca’s. It’s kind of my pretty side. They were like, “we’re going to have to brush them in the opposite direction,” and the makeup artist said, “What if put we them together; would you be opposed to that?” And I’m like, “Oh, that sounds amazing. Let’s do a Frida Kahlo on my eyes and see how that goes!” And that was the creation of the signature eyebrows.
CG: Have you found any significance to the fact that Blanca Flores’ name roughly translates to “white flowers”? It’s such a gentle name for a woman who we can only assume has seen a lot of hardship.
LG: [Laughs] I thought about it once but I thought it was just a silly coincidence. I’ve never asked the writers if [the meaning] was even thought about. I’m not sure if they know it, but that’s a good point. I’m going to find out!
I actually never put it together with the name in English. In Spanish “Flores” doesn’t translate the same way. But now that you’ve put it that way, it kind of describes the character. She’s such a contradiction. I love it!
CG: At the end of Season 3, while the current inmates frolicked in a nearby pond, a busload of new prisoners arrived. How do these new women change the prison’s dynamic?
LG: We’re exploring the topic of the privatization of prisons— which is happening in our society — and how that affects people. Well, in the fictional world of Litchfield, new dynamics are created through this… There’s also the human nature of being territorial, and I think that’s one of the things you’re going to see in the season. The tribal thing gets really intense. It’s a little heavier season than we’ve seen before. In the sense of tone, it’s a little darker than we’ve seen before.
The new blood that’s coming is only going to make things more interesting … We’re going to really shake things up.
CG: Celebrity chef Judy King (played by Blair Brown), — a sort of Martha Stewart — will be incarcerated at Litchfield. How does that change the dynamic of the prison, and for Blanca and the other Latinas in the kitchen?
LG: I can’t specifically say which character she’s going to affect because I could give something up, but this character is going to stir some emotions for sure. It’s definitely one of those elements of the new blood that is shaking things up.
CG: Which of your castmates do you hang out with?
LG: I see a lot of the girls. Of course I have a lot of events with the Latina crowd and I love hanging out with them, but on a personal level I connect a lot with the women with a lot of journey.
I find myself turning towards Connie [Constance Shulman] and Selenis [Leyva], Elizabeth [Rodriguez], and Cathy Curtin [Correctional Officer, Wanda Bell] — who I actually directed in a short film. Oh, and the girl who plays Kukudio — Emily [Althaus], is another person that I see when she’s in New York.
I feel like there are moments where it depends on the event and what the situation is. I sometimes choose someone random because I miss them, and I call them. I see so many of them. I can’t choose one in particular. I have to say that it’s an unusually close environment; we really all do get along.
Orange is the New Black > Netflix > beginning Friday, June 17