It’s Women’s History Month, and we’re continuing our celebration of some of the most impactful women in media!
Selenis Leyva is known for her barrier-breaking work on Orange Is the New Black. Now, she is taking her career to new heights with the show’s final season, finishing out her role as inmate Gloria Mendoza after six years on the empowering hit series.
“It’s really wonderful to have been part of something that a lot of people maybe thought couldn’t work. And to prove that it did work, and it was like, worldwide,” Leyva tells us in an interview.
Leyva attributes the show’s global success to the diversity of its characters.
“Age didn’t matter, body type didn’t matter, ethnicity didn’t matter. It was this really beautiful bubble. But on the outside, the world continues to be what it was.
For Leyva, that includes the often difficult realities that follow an Afro-Latina actress.
“These shows that come up, and they’re like ‘Latina, Latina.’ But then you go in, and someone who is not Latina or Latino is telling me that I am not a Latina women. Or Latina enough.”
Even with an impressive resume and a hit show under her belt, Leyva explains how it’s often still not enough to break down racial barriers.
“People go, ‘Oh my god, your life must have changed a great deal.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it has!’ Financially, it has. It’s given me certain liberties and ease as far as going to sleep knowing that your bills are paid.”
According to Leyva, though, this feeling of ease has not found its way into the audition room yet.
“I will be sitting in that waiting room, you know, waiting for that role for two lines in a movie. Because that’s just reality.”
But even with hardships, The actress refuses to give up anytime soon as she strives to make history for women and people of color everywhere.
“Now that I have people’s attention [laughs], that I’ve come off of such a successful show, I can pitch shows, and I can say, ‘Well, this is my story. These are my ideas. This is how I see the need for representation.'”
The Orange Is the New Black star hopes that she can inspire others the way actresses like Lauren Vélez and Rosie Perez inspired her as a young girl.
“I want someone to look at me and say, ‘Oh my god, she could be my sister. She could be my mother.'”
Stay tuned to Celebrity Page TV for more on Women’s History Month!