Lea DeLaria talks “Orange is the New Black,” screwdrivers and Laura Prepon

AE: Jodie Foster directed the episode, “Lesbian Request Denied.” Did you learn anything about acting from her?

LD: It was not a big episode for me, but I actually learned quite a bit from her. She told me I was really funny, which made me very happy. She also told me that I was moving too much on camera, which was good to hear. Big Boo is on medication, so she’s a little jumpy. But Jodie was like, “It’s too much. It’s too much.”

That’s a constant battle with me because I’m a standup comic and a stage actor. But you have to be much smaller for the camera. And I think because Jodie Foster was there, I was kind of “big” because I was excited. It was so cool to meet her. She has to be the smartest person in any room.

AE: I know. It’s almost annoying.

LD: I find that incredibly attractive, so there you go. She was smart, she was fun loving, she like to laugh. I’m hoping we get her back. I don’t know if we are.

AE: Have you become friends with anyone from the cast?

LD: Definitely Tasha [Lyonne] is someone I hang out with. Samira Wiley [who plays Poussey Washington] and I are really good friends. You’ll see pictures of us hanging out. She’s my boy. And Taryn Manning, [Pennsatucky]. I absolutely love to play with her, go out to brunch with her, and hang out with her a lot. She’s cool people. And Kate Mulgrew. Kate is a gift the show has given me. I had no idea how much I would like Kate and how much we would become friends. We have a very similar outlook on life.

AE: You, Natasha and Kate are all lesbian icons. Natasha did If These Walls Could Talk 2 and But I’m a Cheerleader. And Kate is Captain Fucking Janeway, for cripes sake.

leadelariainterview7Photos courtesy of Paramount and Netflix

LD: I don’t think Kate is aware how much lesbians love her. I had a conversation with her once or twice about it. And she was like, “Really?” And I’m like, “Kate! You are so loved by lesbians!” [laughs] Isn’t that funny? She wasn’t really aware of it.

Natasha is aware. [She’s] hyperaware of everything. She’s the most aware human being I’ve ever met in my life. I mean, do you know how many lesbians she’s played? I mean, millions. She’s lesbian-for-hire. And she couldn’t be straighter.

AE: That’s okay. We claimed her.

LD: Tasha loves us. She loves to tease me backstage. And I always tell her that I want to bang her.

AE: Do you think Taylor Schilling and Laura Prepon are prepared to wear the lesbian icon mantle? Do they understand what it means?

LD: Everybody on the show is so excited about what’s happening for the show. It’s not like anybody is walking around going, “I hate lesbians.” It’s the opposite. Everyone is really thrilled to be a part of this thing. [And] they wouldn’t last long on the set if they did! All of this is the genius of [show creator,] Jenji Kohan. That’s where it all comes from. Jenji is smart, and funny, and gets it. Everything she touches turns to gold.

AE: You guys are definitely going to win an Emmy. What are you going to wear?

LD: I hope that somebody fantastic dresses me. I’m a big Hugo Boss fan but the problem for me is that their stuff is for a taller, thinner build. But we’ll go somewhere fun. Probably Armani, I’m thinking. Armani in a tux.

AE: You know who else likes Armani? Jodie Foster. No matter what, you’ll be fine. I’ve seen your red carpet photos. Your style is sharp.

LD: It’s all about the French cuffs and bowties. That’s my thing.

What a dapper dyke looks like
leadelariainterview8Photo credit: Getty Images

AE: Do you like a pocket square?

LD: Love a pocket square. Big fan of the pocket square.

AE: You don’t physically fit into the typical Hollywood actress mold. Is it easier for a butch woman to be cast on Broadway, as opposed to Hollywood?

LD: I think it’s much more difficult in Hollywood because they tend to put you in a box for film and television casting. For years, I played nothing but PE teachers and police lieutenants. And the lesbian who inappropriately hits on straight women at every function. Boy, that was my niche. I did that a lot.

In New York – not that it’s easy to get on Broadway – there’s a lot of theater. There’s Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-off-Broadway, Off-off-off-Broadway. They tend to put you less in that box. They want to see you act, they want to see you sing, they want to see what you do. In New York, I’ve played straight girls, I’ve played lesbians, I played men. The only thing I haven’t done yet is play a gay man. I’m looking forward to the time I get cast as a gay man.

AE: What is your dream Broadway role?

LD: J. Edgar Hoover. [laughs]

AE: [laughs] You would kill.

LD: My dream Broadway role is what almost any other actor in my position would say: I’m waiting for that part that will be written for me. I’m waiting for someone to go, “I just wrote this part [for you.]” Meanwhile, I just played Vera Charles in Mame, against Andrea McArdle’s Mame, and I had the time of my life. And she was magnificent.

AE: Bring it to LA! I need to see that.

LD: Hey, I was saying to Andrea we should take it somewhere. It’s brilliant. We stopped the show with “Bosom Buddies” every time we did it.

AE: Do you have time to do any stand-up these days?

LD: I’m doing a show called “The Last Butch Standing.” I’ve been doing it for a year and a half, and now it’s ready to be filmed. Were trying to figure out how to make that happen.

AE: A comedy special for HBO or Comedy Central?

LD: Something like that. I’m not at liberty to talk about it. Sorry.

AE: We’ve reached the part of the interview where I ask about the Laura Prepon rumors. Is she in Season 2?

LD: I’m sorry. Who’s Laura Prepon? [laughs]

leadelariainterview9Photo courtesy of Netflix

AE: [laughs] Come on, Lea!

LD: Yeah, that’s my response to that.

AE: I know, okay. I had to try.

LD: Of course you did. And I have to do what I have to do. Don’t worry about it. I thought that was a pretty good answer though. I’m over here still laughing about it. Laughing at my own jokes.

AE: I think the brilliant part of this interview is that we’ve paired up the chicken and Little Boo. We should give the chicken a name.

LD: Let’s give the chicken a name.

AE: Okay, what’s its name?

LD: Mini Boo. We’ll have Little Boo and Mini Boo.

AE: Done.