Diane Guerrero Talks Maritza’s Backstory


It’s less than a week after Netflix started streaming the second season of its runaway hit Orange Is the New Black and fans are already craving more from the women of Litchfield. Since season three won’t likely debut until sometime in 2015, there’s plenty of time to speculate about what will happen next. Rather than take shots in the dark, we caught up with Diane Guerrero, who plays feisty inmate Maritza Ramos, for some details.

“We’re working on it right now,”Guerrero said of season three. “It’s kind of just following from the last episode. We’re continuing the tradition of wackier episodes or unexpected situations that obviously do happen, but people normally don’t talk about or show on TV.”

In an interview with the first-generation American actress, we learned what might have landed Maritza in prison, why Guerrero is excited about her new CW show Jane the Virgin, and her favorite TV shows to binge-watch.

Warning: this interview contains some spoilers for season two of Orange Is the New Black.

What’s it like to be on a show so beloved by both critics and viewers?
“It’s really exciting. I didn’t know the show was going to be so well received, so loved. I’ve never really experienced anything like this, so it’s just a dream come true. I have people I haven’t talked to in years and they’re saying, ‘wow you’re really achieving your dream, this show is amazing, we like to watch it.’ That for me is a treat because you do a lot of things and sometimes if you’re starting off as an actress you don’t always get to do the things you want to do or get into shows you want or think are cool, sometimes you just have to say ‘I got a role here’ and you do it, but you’re not necessarily into the story or whatever, and this one I was so taken by the story.”

Maritza hasn’t had her background story told yet on the show, do you have any idea what might have landed her at Litchfield?
“No! I have no idea, I really don’t. I get to know a little bit more about her as you do. She is crazy and impulsive and quite emotional and fiery, so I don’t know. Maybe she did something for love or something like that. I have no idea.

“Sometimes I think maybe she just got involved with the wrong crowd. She has a baby, so I’m assuming I might have tried to get money the easy way, just to survive. I definitely don’t think it was stupid, I definitely know that she was misguided. Sometimes when I read Maritza’s part or when I play her, I play a misguided youth, and I guess that’s all I can say about that.”

Aside from your own, which storylines on the show do you enjoy the most?
“I love Uzo [Adobo]’s backstory—Crazy Eyes—I love her backstory and we don’t really know why she’s [in prison]. I enjoy hers and Lorna’s character, she’s all nutty and I love these delusions and fantasies about being in love and having someone love you, but going about it the wrong way–and you know that credit card fraud thing is just awesome. So those to I really happen to enjoy and I love watching them.”

So much has been made of how close the women are on set of Orange Is the New Black. What’s it like between takes?
“It’s just a ball of fun all the time. Between takes we’re laughing or we’re catching up. If we’re out of character catching up we’ll be like, ‘do you want to go to lunch later?’ ‘yeah that sounds good.’ And sometimes we just stay in character all day where we’re just messing around the way we normally would. As you see in the show, I stay in the kitchen with the Latina girls, so I’m with them a lot shooting and that’s how it is outside of work as well. We’re just kind of goofy and trying to make the most out of this.”

What do you think makes the show so addictive to viewers?
“I think it’s because there’s nothing like it on TV. I think despite what we’ve seen on TV, people like seeing women and knowing about women’s stories and their struggles and their truth. I think we’ve seen it in a lot of these shows–when there’s a cast of all women, it does very well. People like seeing people being human and real and I think that’s been lacking on TV. It’s a subject that isn’t really talked about, women’s prison, it’s something that’s new for people and people want to know these stories that’s never told. It’s a sensitive subject to touch upon and I think in a comedy-drama like this, you get to watch it and not feel completely depressed. You see some happy moments, some funny moments, some heartwarming, and there are also some tough things to watch, but it makes you feel something different, I think.”

Since it’s on Netflix, OITNB is heavily binge-watched. What shows do you binge-watch?
“I definitely binge-watched House of Cards when it first came out. I love Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, she’s fantastic, Kate Mara—I’m such a fan, so I binge-watched that for sure. And before that, I watched Friday Night Lights, which I didn’t even know about. There are so many shows that escape you that are on TV, I also watched the United States of Tara, which I think is brilliant, I really, really love that show. And I did Scandal, Once Upon a Time, and Breaking Bad for sure.”

What drew you to The CW’s new show Jane the Virgin?
“I loved the story. It was quirky and I felt like this was a chance to be in a story that is heartfelt and family oriented. And I got to not be a prisoner! The setup takes from Juana la Virgen, which is a Venezuelan novela and it’s kind of a parody on that. I love that there’s a narrator on the show–I love narrated shows, they tickle me. And Lina, I love her, she’s a great character. I think I have a lot to offer to the show and I can’t wait to work with Gina Rodriguez and all the cast mates, they’re wonderful actors.”

When you first heard the premise for Jane the Virgin, which is about a young, devout woman who discovers that she was accidentally artificially inseminated, what was your first reaction?
“I said yes! This is good, this is different, I want to be a part of the shows that are not common and are not out there [already] and this is a story that hasn’t really been told. We keep pushing the envelope with these interesting stories and of course we have wonderful writers that are going to twist it make it even more interesting for you. The story is interesting itself, and I’m sure it could happen to anyone! It deals with staying true to oneself, family, and love, I think that really drew me.”

Will filming Jane the Virgin interfere with your OITNB schedule?
“I hope not! I hope to be on and as of now I’m on both. Hopefully it doesn’t interfere, that would be tragic. I love working on Orange Is the New Black and I’m really excited to be part of this new show.”

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whose backstories do you want in season three?