Dascha Polanco’s rise has been fast: She was a nurse in the Bronx with two tiny TV credits to her name when she scored her gig on “Orange is the New Black,” playing new inmate Daya. She then had small roles in “Gimme Shelter” and now the indie fantasy “The Cobbler,” playing the harried girlfriend of a gangster played by Method Man. And when we speak, the Brooklyn native is in Boston, shooting David O. Russell’s “Joy,” alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and more. Not that makes her nervous.
Her "Cobbler" character: “It’s not a big role, but it’s very profound. It depicts what people in bad relationships go through — the ups and downs, the physical and emotional abuse, and being able to survive that. When I look at roles I look at them as an opportunity to not judge the character but to become the essence of that character. Seeing her resilience and seeing how strong she is — it was something I can actually portray quite well, because I find myself to be very resilient and to be an advocate for doing what you want to do and having a freedom of choice.”
Her short screentime: “There are times where you can have a conversation with someone for an hour and get nothing from it, but you can come across one person and get one hello, and that hello affects you your whole life. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. Though I wanted to show more of her, I didn’t have to show more to show her history. I want to make characters colorful and artistically intriguing so that it always leaves a footprint on the viewer’s lives.”
Playing Method Man’s paramour: “Growing up I was a fan of Method Man’s music. I had posters of him as a child. He was my little teen crush. To work with him — I was timid. I was a little intimidated because I didn’t know he was so tall. [Laughs] I was like, ‘Wow, you look small on MTV!’ But he’s very welcoming, very down to earth.”
The film’s portrayal of a gentrifying New York: “The other day I thought I’d look up some apartments in Brooklyn, because I thought I’d like to move back there. When I saw the average cost of living in Brooklyn, I was like, ‘Wow, it’s Manhattan now.’ Brooklyn has lost its culture, in aw ay. I know it’s improved vastly, but as a native Brooklynite, I miss the true genuine Brooklyn street.”