The fourth season of "Orange is the New Black" dropped on Netflix last Friday, and it wouldn't be totally out of line for us to assume you may have rabidly consumed all 13 episodes already. If you have (and are already scouring the web for Season 5 spoilers), we tapped actress Kimiko Glenn who plays tree-hugging incessant babbler Brook Soso to fill us in on her vital role in that shocking finale.
Actually, just kidding!
"I don't even want to allude to it!" she says. "No one knew until we read through [the script], and I thought, 'This is not real.'"
But what is real is the life Glenn gives to Soso in Season 4. Since her character's Season 2 introduction, fans had only known her to be the half-Asian hippie who once lived in a condemned tree (and was subsequently arrested) and now lives in Litchfield, where she has yet to find her own group of friends in the racially divided prison.
Following a failed suicide attempt at the end of Season 3, we kick off the fourth with Soso's burgeoning friendship/romance with fellow inmate, Poussey (Samira Wiley).
Glenn weighs in on her character’s Season 4 arch, sharing scenes with the sensational Wiley and her new role in Broadway's "Waitress."
*Warning: This interview includes spoilers from Season 4.*
What is it like for you as an actress knowing that the day after your new season drops people could have already binge watched it?
Well it’s crazy because it’s been less of an explosion this year than other times. I think because it’s on the fourth season, the diehards are still binging but a lot of people are enjoying it one episode at the time. In the past, it’s been like a gunshot, where everyone’s seen the show the next day and asking about the new season already. It’s been slow and steady this time. It’s nice.
We finally get a Soso backstory episode this season. Were you excited when you found out?
I was curious to know more about the character, and any time you get more material for a character, it’s exciting because it’s another clue to who they are. With television, the possibilities are endless, and then there’s the fact that we don’t know specifically what she’s done [to go to jail] yet, that's exciting, too.
How much did you know about Soso’s backgroundwhen you first got cast?
As much as everyone else did. It was a quick process when they cast me because I auditioned in the morning and by noon the next day they said I had to be on set at 6 a.m. that next morning. It was Season 2, and some of the other women had visited prisons and stuff like that, but I didn’t have the luxury of time. It ended up informing my character because I was thrust into this experience and totally unsure about what to expect.
You definitely don’t get the impression that she'sheaded for prison from her backstory episode.
No, I was surprised I got cast. I’m so scrawny and not intimating at all, but I think they wanted that energy and mystery of “Who is this girl and what has she done?”
There’s the theme this season of characters discovering their own racist tendencies, and Soso was one of the most surprising when she makes assumptions about Poussey’s upbringing.
I was a little bit shocked that she would be as insensitive as she was in that situation. She’s so educated and socially conscious about that sort of thing, so I was surprised she let herself blab. But then, no matter who you are, or what education level you’ve achieved, you might hold some prejudice because of your parents or surroundings as a kid. I was just surprised she would so openly do it. But it also showed her growth as a character to admit that she’s in the wrong and she’s willing to get better and listen more.
Let’s talk about Poussey and Soso’s romance. She finds you at the end of Season 3 after Soso’s suicide attempt and you can see the start of a bond.
Honestly, there is no one better to have a scene with or work with or be able to kiss than Samira Wiley. She’s so attractive and adorable and fun to play off of. And selfishly, for me, the past two seasons I haven’t had a proper scene partner — someone to listen to me and respond and respect what I say as Brook — and that can be a little hard playing. It was a game-changer for me. I felt liberated. My character gets to smile and feel loved, and you didn’t get to see that in the past two seasons. You know someone more when you see someone loving them.
Have you watched the season yet?
I cannot binge it. It’s really hard to watch myself. If you’ve ever seen a video of yourself, you know what I mean. I can do two or three episodes at a time, but I’m doing a Broadway show now that’s so different from “Orange” that it’s hard to compartmentalize. I’ve watched up to Episode 3.
Speaking of, you’re filling the late Adrienne Shelley’s iconic role in “Waitress” on Broadway. Is there particular pressure on playing that character, knowing she wrote and directed the film version of the story, too?
It's been a breath of fresh air. I thought about putting a lot of pressure on myself at first,but I also wanted to give it newlife because of Adrienne. I think I found something really nice and I hope she's proud. A lot of her family have come [to the show], and said she would have loved what I've done, and that means so much to me. Returning to the stage has been amazing. It feels like home to me.