SAG Award-winning actor Alysia Reiner sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Reiner opens up about auditioning for “Orange Is the New Black,” the first time she met Pamela Adlon and working together on “Better Things,” how Meryl Streep inspired her to effect change, and more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Alysia Reiner —
On originally auditioning for Alex and other roles on “Orange Is the New Black”:
“I originally auditioned for Alex [played by Laura Prepon]. I read the pilot and I thought it was genius, met Jenji [Kohan], met the whole team, was heartbroken when I didn’t get it. And then auditioned for Polly, her best friend — didn’t get it. Auditioned for one other thing, and then was like, ‘Okay, I have to forget about this project altogether.’ And then they called and offered me Fig, which was two lines to begin with. So it was such a delicious journey. And it is the biggest gift on the planet when you get to develop a human for seven seasons.”
On the backstory about Fig that she never even shared with the “Orange Is the New Black” writers:
“I had a whole backstory for her that I don’t think I even shared with the writers necessarily. She had tried to go to law school. She was dyslexic and could never pass the bar. So she went into this line of work because it was a way of feeling part of the law system without having to pass the bar. And she was super smart, but she’s street smart. She wasn’t grade-smart. And then, she had a chip on her shoulder because of this dyslexia so she would steal. It was always like, ‘I should be able to be a lawyer right now, and it’s not fair that I’m not so I’m taking what I deserve.’”
On the most surprising thing she learned about the American prison system while working on “Orange Is the New Black”:
“The money behind it. I’m ashamed to admit that I had no idea what the industrial prison complex was. I would say two things: one is that, basically, our prison system today was created in order to have a new system of slavery. That’s simply the truth of it. And we have to all admit that. And if you don’t understand that, go watch the ‘13th’ by Ava DuVernay. There’s certain things we need as humans — right now on this planet, particularly white humans — to acknowledge, and it’s uncomfortable to acknowledge, but we need to acknowledge it. So that is simply a truth, and we need to be aware of it. And then awareness, acceptance, action […] So one is the slavery, and two is the money behind it.”
On working with Pamela Adlon on “Better Things”:
“I remember meeting [Pamela Adlon] — I think, like, Lea DeLaria was there, too. We were both auditioning for different roles, and we had all these people in common. I’m so grateful to be part of that show, really because Sunny is the most like me I’ve ever gotten to play. Look, she’s bitter and divorced in a way that I’m not, but she’s just a best friend, which no one had ever given me the best friend role before and that was a real dream of mine […] Playing Pamela’s best friend is the biggest gift on the planet. First of all, she is such an outrageous inspiration as the writer/director/producer, and she’s so generous of spirit. She’s magic, she’s magic. What she writes is magic. And again, it illuminates women we’ve never seen before like a working mom of three trying to keep it all together, and making that person a hero. That person is a hero.”
On the first time she realized the power of the arts to effect change:
“The thing that opened that door to me was seeing Meryl Streep on TV, when I was a little kid, at Congress talking about pesticides on apples. And then the law changed about pesticides on apples! It was mind blowing for me. I was like, ‘Oh my God, that actress person, who I think is a great actress person, just went to Congress and used her voice and then law changed.’ Now, I want to own for a second and take a step back, that’s a very simplistic view of a small child. There were Representatives, who probably had been working on this and lobbyists and incredibly important activists behind her, but the fact that she highlit [sic] it for people, perhaps to write letters or make calls, made me go, ‘Oh, there’s a way to be an artist that then also creates a platform and a voice to help make the world a better place.’”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us,” “Dallas Buyers Club”), Willie Garson (“Hawaii Five-0,” “White Collar”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions,” “Takes One to Know One”), Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace,” “Travelers”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi,” “How to Get Away with Murder”), Reid Scott (“Why Women Kill,” “Veep”), Matt Walsh (“Veep,” “UCB Comedy Originals”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), and Constance Zimmer (“Condor,” “UnREAL”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Harley Quinn,” “Saturday Night Seder”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes,” “United 93”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us,” “When They See Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “My So-Called Life”), Alan Cumming (“Briarpatch,” “Instinct,” “The Good Wife”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Jim Gaffigan (“Tesla,” “The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word,” “Nightcap”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “The Avengers”), Jason Isaacs (“The OA,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Big Mouth,” “Gotham”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl,” “Life in Pieces,” “Pretty Little Liars”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Nip/Tuck,” “90210”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs,” “Reno 911!”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters,” “Arrow”), Rob Morrow (“Billions,” “The Fosters”), Kathy Najimy (“Hocus Pocus,” “Sister Act”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon,” “The Muppets”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl,” “Gossip Girl”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Rent”), and Julie Taymor (“The Lion King,” “Frida,” “The Glorias”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. The Creative Coalition harnesses the unique platforms of the arts community and entertainment industry to make positive impacts on social welfare issues. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.