Q&A: 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Natasha Lyonne

January 17, 2014 | by Simona Rabinovitch | Talk of the Town

Natasha Lyonne   
Natasha Lyonne (photo: Tomasso Boddi/Getty Images)  

Known these days for the hit Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, Natasha Lyonne also has a fun role in the upcoming comedy G.B.F., which has been described as Clueless for this generation. The comedy explores what happens when a gay teen is outed and becomes the new gay best friend (or G.B.F.) of three popular high school girls. Yet, as Lyonne explains, both the movie's message, and its laughs, hit home for all ages.

So who do you play in G.B.F.?
I'm a teacher in a high school. I run the Gay/Straight Alliance and I'm a guidance counselor-y figure, and I've been devastated by the loss of my own gay best friend, and in his place I now have a cat.  

It's great to see this sort of Will & Grace-style of gay man, straight female relationship more and more in television and film. 
I think that's why these movies are important, to keep getting that to be more and more mainstream, so we let go of some of these hangups. I mean, yeah, sure, I guess it makes sense that we would want to be friends with all kinds of different people. Men like to be friends with women and vice versa, and it's always nice to have a friend and not have sexual tension. And, what does that look like, a woman and her gay best friend? [People think] you're giving her fashion advice or something. A lot of gay man/female relationships have nothing to do with clothing, you know what I mean? And not all gay women are in combat boots and cargo shorts. There's all kinds of flavors of human beings everywhere.

Another big project of yours is Orange Is the New Black. How is season two coming? 
We're almost done, we're two episodes away from wrapping the season. All of us were together at the Globes—me, Laura Prepon, and Uzo Aduba. The three of us went to support Taylor [Schilling], so we had a long night on the town. I'm so proud to be part of that show, it is really satisfying to be proud of the work that we're doing. We have such a nice thing going with all of us that feels really great as a woman, and hopefully [through] these projects, slowly we're chipping away at these ideas––that gay people are considered second class citizens, that women are considered second class citizens––and it feels great to be part of that. And in both cases, it's really funny and original stuff, great writing, great voices.

Yeah, the writing on Orange is amazing.
Everything on that show is functioning at two levels at all times. There's a real underbelly of suffering and pain. We're people in prison who have this albatross of regret of making, at some point, a terrible decision that led us to be there . . . And Netflix feels like mavericks, there's not restrictions and walls, they really just want to make the best thing possible.

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